Life lessons from a Middle Eastern compound resident

This past year and a half has been an interesting one to say the least. My family moved to Saudi Arabia and in many ways we’re just now feeling settled in our new home. Life is very different here but I’m of the opinion that it is better in many ways.

We live on a compound where I am able to drive, wear what I want and life is how I imagine life in the States would have been in the 50’s. There is no traffic and everyone knows everybody. Where I find this extremely helpful is when I don’t have to spend valuable time out of my day stuck in traffic while shuffling Little Miss Markey to her many activities. The grocery store lacks the long lines and crowded aisles and everyone looks after each other’s kiddos.

Our evenings begin at 4pm where everyone can be found playing outside (until the hot season comes) and family time is actually honored. I often found that that was what gave when we were in the States. Life was busier and what we really wanted to do seemed harder to reach. Thanks to an easier life I’m able to get done for my family what I want and have time for my writing and dance instruction without feeling even the hint of guilt.

The best part is the sense of community. We actually know our neighbors! I have somewhere to go if I need that extra cup of sugar and my daughter has instant playmates waiting to see her after preschool. Being part of a small community we are very proactive about making things we want happen. A great example of this is children programming. Since moving here I’ve sat in countless community meetings organizing and making programs happen so that the children of this community can participate in the same wide range of programs they’d expect to find in the States or UK. We make change happen and it makes our community better.

Another interesting thing to note is how my writing seems to be affected by the creativity and supporting community around me. Working with creative people to arrange such activities for children (as I have done with my dance program) has made me feel more creative. I’ve experienced this feeling before when I was active in my Houston RWA chapter but it’s fun to feel such creative energy from a variety of fields outside of writing. This energy helps me to stay motivated when I often feel isolated from the writing community.

So how can you learn from my experiences of living in a compound? Well, how well do you know your community? When was the last time you’ve attended a neighborhood block party? Have you thought about organizing one? I think you’d be surprised at how freeing it feels to actually know those living around you. Especially if you live in the States life is faster than it is here. Wouldn’t it help to have somewhere to go at night for a cup of sugar versus changing your dinner recipe or worse, hopping in the car for a bumper-to-bumper trip?

Take time for family. Sure life gets crazy but having time for family has made me see just how important it is. Yes, we should all know that but I feel more energized to work after family game night than anything else I could do to stimulate my creative self.

Think like a compound resident and try to dial life back a bit. I remember easily feeling sucked into life when I lived in the States. Yes, I miss it greatly but when we move back there are many things that I would do differently in an effort to maintain a compound-like life.

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4 thoughts on “Life lessons from a Middle Eastern compound resident

  1. Piper Bayard says:

    What you’re describing is life in America outside of the cities. It’s the life I’ve always had the pleasure to know, and my cooking is greatly simplified by having access to the groceries in my neighbor’s kitchen.

    I’m so glad things are working for you there. Sounds like a wonderful compound, though I’m still not sold on the surrounding area. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Piper! I grew up outside of Houston and still felt the impact of the big city. And let me be clear, I LOVE BIG CITIES but I think that often times life can get in the way of what we really want. I wanted to write this post to show people how life is in my compound. I think people believe we live in a prison under constant protection. It’s true we have top notch security but we feel very safe. We go off camp in the surrounding areas and have never experienced any problems. It’s just like living in the U.S.A. Stay educated on current events, use common sense on where you go and don’t stay out after dark especially by yourself.

      • Piper Bayard says:

        I love hearing your perspective, and I’m so glad you and your family are able to feel safe. 🙂

      • We do love it but don’t get me started on sand. I hate sand and my dog really hates sand! Poor Oscar is actually allergic! Always happy to share our perspective of life abroad. I always get questions about our life here so I think I’ll start talking more about it on the blog.

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