Sunday, December 26, 2010

America, I Don't Like You!

Soon after I posted my chance meeting with a young African girl coming from Saudi Arabia to study in America, I came across this poignant account of a Saudi woman also living in America as a student. My translation is from her Arabic blog which can be viewed here.  

"Before I came to America, the idea of independence attracted me more than anything else. Even though my father was never involved in my personal decisions and allowed me full responsibility, the lifestyle of my country forces women to be dependent for the simplest of things. Besides that, my father spoiled me so much that he would not even allow me to move a glass from its place - that was the job of the servants!

So I came to America with the dream of benefitting from the experience of freedom. I wanted this experience to strengthen and develop my personality. I wanted to learn to depend on myself, which was hard in a country controlled by masculinity.

But I no longer want this independence, nor the responsibility that I used to dream about. I want to return to my parents. I want to wake up to find my breakfast prepared and waiting for me. I want to finish eating breakfast and have my coffee ready. Then I want to get in the car and have the driver drop me off at the university, or the mall, or wherever I want to go. When I'm finished, I want him waiting to take me home.

I don't want to have to look for a parking spot. I don't want to pay the rent and the utility bills. I don't want to think about anything except my dreams. I don't want daily responsibilities that weigh me down.

Who is at fault for my fear and inability to accept responsibility? Is what I feel normal? Is the lifestyle I am accustomed to the reason for this? Should I blame myself, or the society that demands the permission of my father for everything?

I don't like the American life. I find it pushes people down. It forces you "to be or not to be". You can't be just an ordinary person living an ordinary life. You either succeed, or you are forced to work three jobs to live a respectable life. There is no place for the family. There are no boundaries placed in front of trying to get money.

This is what I have observed in my small environment, and is not a generalization. I prefer the pretense and windowdressing of my own country. I prefer the dichotomy, and the lack of freedom. I want to live my life and defend my principles, with all the limits and restrictions, but with my family. I want to be with my daddy and mommy, with my brothers and sisters and my relatives. I want to be my father's spoiled child who arranges the entire house according to her whims.

There is something about my country that makes me crazy about it. In spite of all my criticism and my rebellion, I love it more than any other country.

I know many will not agree with me, but I am speaking about my personal experience. Many people love life in America, and they have that right. Yes, there are many positive aspects, but they mean nothing to me. None of them make up for what I am missing. What I have lost is much greater than I can put into words. America, I am sorry but I don't like you!

Life in America is not right for me. That does not mean it is not right for all the women from my country. I am merely speaking for myself. I was much happier in Saudi Arabia. There is a spirituality I have lost here. What I have lost is much deeper than the feelings of independence and self-reliance, and that I am equal to a man in every way. I have lost something that all those things are not able to cover. I have been in America more than six months, and these feelings are still with me.

I still view America as being green, the color of money. Its nights are depressing, and its streets narrow. Life here is frightening. I would prefer an hour in the Empty Quarter to these dreary woods behind my house. 

This is my personal perspective, nothing more."

7 comments:

Susanne said...

Well I can understand why spoiled brats who have servants to do everything and who can arrange life according to their whims won't like it here.

I hope the poor girl can catch the first flight out of here.

Emma said...

Jeez... that made me rage. I guess the post sort of speaks for itself, but wow. How ridiculously self-absorbed and ignorant do you have to be??

I feel sorry for the Americans who had/have to deal with her on her little trip.

in the vanguard said...

" I find it pushes people down. It forces you "to be or not to be". You can't be just an ordinary person living an ordinary life. You either succeed, or you are forced to work three jobs to live a respectable life. There is no place for the family. There are no boundaries placed in front of trying to get money."

Servants she wants - but not to "push people down".

Servants she wants - but that's what "living an ordinary life" means to her.

"You either succeed or ... ." and of course she's a success in saudia ayrabia.

"No place for family" - not her's, thank goodness.

"No boundaries laid to make money". As if in her worthless country things are more "respectable".

This is just a stupid child talking. From a country where stupid people live and stupid people reign. A country that trashes their own women, their own people - let alone people of other countries or persuasions.

observant observer said...

Reports on news have so horribly tells that many Indonesian maids who were eager to go to SA thinking that they would be able to perform the Hajj rituals while work there, and imagining thousands of dollars that they would be able to send home, had become the victims of terrible violence. Their employers (I can picture this girl as one of the children of those employers) were quick to find small mistakes and grant them the punishment that they "deserve", pour them with hot water, beat them with sticks, cut their mouth, iron their back!! It's reported that 110 Indonesian women workers died in a year 0f 2010 alone, and 57.000 cases of violence reported on abuse by these employers towards their domestic "partner/helper". And none of the employers have been reported to get proper sanction.
I can imagine this girl felt very "powerful, privileged and nobler" than her drivers and maids.

How I wish that the oil that has supported this SA mentality get dry soon!!!

Anonymous said...

6 months..
This is exactly the time it takes to get to the bottom of the culture stress curve...
Give her a break you idiots. She's just homesick and struggling with a very different culture. I hope she gets to stay a little longer and she will start to see the good aspects and perhaps bring some of those back with her. Working as an expat in the M.E. for a church I've met plenty of ridiculously self-absorbed and ignorant "brats" visiting from the USA who come out with similar ethnocentrism - and I've seen them grow through it eventually too

Anonymous said...

just wait till her benevolent daddy sells to a husband she has no say in choosing- her life will always be a the mercyof someone else's who may or maynot be as kind as rich Daddy- little spoiled bitch will be crying for USA- good riddance- we don't like you either

Verumi said...

Wow, I'm surprised at the scornful comments. Is that really necessary? The girl is going through her growing pains. She chose to express it now, rather than reflect on it months or years later. Give her a break.

She was frank about her dislike about America, but she was also clear that she wasn't generalizing and that she was only speaking from her own experience. Her tone was reflective. She was not contemptuous of America and American life. She recognizes that just because American life does not suit her, it doesn't mean it will not suit other Saudi women as well.

I hope this girl knows that not all Americans are hostile to her feelings about America. She may or may not eventually like this country, but that is not the point, is it? She is here to gain some experience and learn from it. She is here to grow.

Najla, I wish you well. I'm sure you will continue to reflect on your experiences and grow as a better person. God bless you.