By Jihyun Sohn (손지현)
Keep in mind this is my viewpoint as an international student; I had a lot of perks that not many people can share.
- Pretty much free AC and heating. Now that I’ve left the country, I really miss it. A LOT. AC/heating is expensive in Korea, so I’m stuck with five blankets and a lot of hot tea for now.
- The lack of humidity. Say what you want about the scorching sun, but at least you never have to deal with that disgusting feeling of accidently brushing against someone and trying to figure out whether that was water or sweat.
- Cheap local produce. The fruit and vegetables there was actually delicious and relatively cheap. I especially recall being fascinated by the carrots there – they had four kinds. And they came in different colors. As a carrot enthusiast, I’m proud to say I tried every four of them, including the black carrot.
- And the milk and yogurt. Milk and yogurt in Korea tastes a bit chemically manufactured to be honest. And way too sweet. Saudi had amazing fresh milk – and there was plenty of skimmed ones as well. In comparison, Korean ones taste…well, weird.
- Food. I miss Shawarmas and falafel. The shawarma guy I often went to was awesome too – he used to give me free extra french fries.
- Arabic coffee. I don’t care what some others think, to me, it tastes even better than black coffee. And I have black coffee every day.
- Employment benefits. Jobs in Saudi come with extremely tempting packages, such as subsidised education, cars, housing etc. I got the international private schooling and all the opportunities that come with it at a relatively cheap price.
- Traveling was one of the employment benefits. We were able to save more, and were able to use that money to travel around the middle east, europe, and North America.
- Imports. Fresh mangos and some of the more exotic fruits are almost impossible to find in Korea. A lot of them were available AND pretty cheap on top of that in Saudi. Let’s not forget the gluten free/bio options they have over there. It’s generally hard to find those options in Korea unless you seek them out in a separate shop.
- Okay, I’ll stop talking about food and move on to compounds. The compound might have made it difficult to interact with locals, but it was great to meet up with other internationals. Korea is mostly homogenuous and it’s difficult meeting/befriending internationals unless you’re deliberately looking for them in certain social circles. I never had that problem over there.
- International education. Again, the international private education gave me access to studying in a globally accepted program in a diverse highschool. Not many people are privileged enough to have that.
- There are a lot of difficulties living in Saudi, mobility-wise, but I like to think that it made me more tough and proactive. Nowadays, I can find an opportunity anywhere as long as I look outside the box.
- Camels. I’m deprived of them in Korea. It can be a good thing(less poop, and camels can stink), but it’s a bit deflating to realise your ambitions of going to school riding a camel are now dashed. I’m serious, by the way.
- Less competition. The competition in Korea is cutthroat. I’m glad I dodged that bullet in highschool, but I’m not looking forward to seeing it in college. On the other hand, Saudi is a lot more relaxed. There’s less impatience, and people are less likely to fault you for being late or bad at something.
- Community is tight there. Korea is technically the same, but a lot of it, such as the importance on large families, has started to change with our fast modernisation.
- Abayas. For all they tempt to trip me, they’re convenient af. You literally never have to change out of your pjs. Also, you have a rare opportunity to attend expensive buffet meeting in a fancy hotel? Great, put on some make up and go in sneakers and sweatpants! I’m stuffing myself comfortably while I can xD
- Muslim friends. They’re great. Especially when we laugh over memes like “when your hijab falls off but homies got your back”. I was the one who pointed out my friend’s hair when it fell out of her hijab. Those experiences help me be openminded, especially now when islamophobia and racism is so mainstream. Their dedication towards their religion also motivates me to be a better Christian. I’m a very lazy one, unfortunately.
- It’s progressing. Women can work, even if the work is limited. Tourist visas are starting to be issued. The country is slowly starting to open, and a lot of well educated Saudis are working to develop their country economically and socially. I’d definitely like to see how Saudi will change in a few decades or so.
- The cool factor. Let’s be serious, not many people get to say they’ve been in Saudi Arabia, and lived there long enough to complain about it. Yes, I’m immature about the coolness, and no, I don’t care either.
I’ll cut this short seeing it’s 12 am in the morning and its getting mushwar. I’d conclude that there are plenty of perks of Saudi society regardless of its faults, and the best thing is that it’s improving itself even now.
Posted Originally at Quora