Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bored Leaves Vernal

I'll blurt it out really fast, and maybe it will be easier--We're moving to Saudi Arabia.

I sure don't have a problem moving--I've done it almost every two years since I've been married. I've lived in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, Hawaii, Nevada, California, Texas, and Utah. I've even been out of the country--a mission to Quebec and frequent visits to Mexico when we lived on the border. But this is a different challenge than ever before.

Do you know what was the first thing I worried about when I found out this move was definite? You guessed it--my screen name will have to change. I'm fascinated by the fact that this one small thing is bothering me so much. This past year that I have been "Bored in Vernal" I have forged a new identity. I've had a difficult time integrating into the small conservative Mormon community of Vernal, and I've made friends blogging. In doing so, I've been able to reveal myself in ways that were unprecedented in my real life. I haven't been afraid to be outspoken and authentic. Of course, I don't anticipate that my blogging will change in any way, but I've grown attached to the Bored in Vernal moniker.

The second thing that bothers me is the unknown quantity of the country to which I will be moving. Here in the U.S. we are unacquainted with the culture, geography, and religion of the Middle East. I'm afraid of being a woman in Saudi. The move was initiated by my husband, who will be a library director at a university in Riyadh. After DH accepted the offer, I made inquiries and was fortunate to land a job with the associated but segregated women's college. Although the men's campus has an Olympic-sized pool and a swimming program, the women are not allowed to appear in swimming suits. So instead of coaching swimming (my area of expertise), I will be teaching aerobics and health and possibly other areas of physical education. Yikes. Do the women play soccer, basketball, volleyball? I don't know. I love aerobics, but if that is the only P.E. the women are allowed, I will be seriously irked.

Religion is another area of concern. When I tried to look up the Church in Saudi, I was shocked to see that there were 0 (yes, zero) Latter-day Saints in the country. Since then I have discovered that although the Church has no official presence, there is actually a ward in Riyadh. Can I say that on the internet? Will I get caught by the religious police? If I thought I was oppressed within Mormonism, will I be able to survive an even stricter religious authority? Interestingly, I have no problem with cultural differences such as wearing an Abaya or a head covering when not on the compound. But I wonder how I will react to not being able to drive or ride a bicycle. Worse, how will DH react? Will he embrace the male dominated culture?

Lastly, we must divest ourselves of our worldly possessions. So far, I've done quite well with this. We had our first yard sale yesterday. The piano went, the bikes, most of the furniture, a bunch of junk. Next Sunday Tom Kimball will come out and cart away all of the books. I'm sure it will get harder when I start having to part with keepsakes, swimming trophies and ribbons, genealogy notebooks. I don't know what to do with years of scrapbooks for 8 children. It will be hard to pare it down to 2 suitcases each.

Perhaps I have nothing to worry about. As you can see, they do have McDonalds. Now if there is a WalMart nearby, I may be just fine.

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