From the USA to Kuwait: American Girl's World
Hi there! My name is Diane and I’m from central North Carolina in the U.S.A. I lived in Kuwait for a bit more than 10 years, married a local, and we moved back to my hometown in North Carolina last year. We continue to maintain our home in Kuwait and travel back and forth several times a year so I guess it’s safe to say we live in both countries now.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I had completed my education and found myself seeking something challenging beyond the typical 9-5 workday.
2. How do you make a living?
My primary function has been international Human Resources but I also do consulting for government agencies and HR related training for corporations and individuals abroad.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Now that ‘home’ is in 2 countries we’re avid Skype and Whatsapp users. We’re also constantly attached to an IPad, Tablet, or smart phone when we’re not sitting at a computer. We maintain mobile phone/internet contracts in both countries and rely heavily on them to stay in contact with family on a daily basis.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Kuwait?
My favorite thing was always the opportunity to learn a completely different culture. From the beginning I found myself striking up conversations with locals at every opportunity. I was fortunate to meet some really amazing people and develop valuable friendships.
I also love the fact there’s a Starbucks on every corner!
Additionally, Kuwait’s location allows for quick access to other countries – making a weekend getaway quite simple.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Kuwait?
Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. Driving in Kuwait can be extremely dangerous, add to that endless traffic and it’s just outright scary. Eventually you learn to schedule every task around rush hour.
Heat. Heat. Heat. The summer months (March – November) can reach 130F. Air conditioning becomes your best friend and simple tasks, such as grocery shopping, take place at 2am. Weekends are spent sleeping all day and enjoying outdoor activities at night.
6. What do you miss most?
Family! Regardless of where we are in the world we’re always missing one side of the family. While in Kuwait I also miss the abundance of fresh, reasonably priced produce, and soft bread. While in America I miss the incredibly low priced gasoline.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I made a genuine effort to strike up conversations with locals as well as attend cultural events. Yet to this day I continue to ask my husband a variety of questions about his culture.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I found it very strange that adult males lived at home with their parents. In America moving out is a sign of maturity and coming into adulthood. In Kuwait it’s almost considered irresponsible. The majority of people live at home until they’re married and sometimes even afterwards – moving their bride into the family home.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
It’s not all desert, camels, and tents. Yeah, much of the country is desert and you’ll certainly see some random camels, and in the winter people will pitch tents and go camping. But Kuwait is primarily a thriving metropolis consisting of gorgeous high rise buildings, massive malls, literally any restaurant you can imagine, and streets filled with luxury cars.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living in Kuwait is much higher than our location in North Carolina. It could easily be compared to living in Manhattan. Rent in a decent apartment can easily be upwards of $3,000 a month. And at this time only locals are allowed to own real estate in Kuwait so buying isn’t an option for an expat.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Get to know the locals! Don’t spend the day at work and the evening in your flat. Meet people and experience the true culture. Travel! Flights to Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai, etc. are less than an hour and very reasonably priced.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2004 with a friend who also blogged with me. She eventually married and stopped blogging so I took over full time. Initially it was a way to keep family back home in America updated on my life but eventually started growing. I found people were actually interested in my experiences and it made blogging more fun.
Diane's Blog, American Girl's World
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