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."