My Top Ten First Impressions of Kuwait

Alternate Title: Let’s Post this Before the Internet is Down Again

I am nearing my two week anniversary with Kuwait. I figured that since most of my friends who recently had babies post weekly update photos of their infant along with short anecdotes about their baby’s progress in areas such as sleeping, eating, crying, goo goo ga ga-ing, and something referring to as “tummy time,” I figured it was only appropriate to update all of you about my progress with Kuwait and the little baby we have made together called Living Abroad.

So, to start off, here is a picture of me in Kuwait.IMG_3571.jpg

 

Following that lovely gem, here are some things I have learned thus far about living in  Kuwait.

1. No matter what anyone tells you, Kuwait is HUMID! Yes it a desert and yes it is also the most humid place I have ever personally encountered. Even now as I type this, it is getting dark out and it is still 108 degrees Farenheit (I don’t know what that is in Celsius without an app, I’m not that evolved yet). Kuwaitis and expats alike spend a lot of time indoors at least until the heat breaks around October. Seriously. I know someone who plays gigs at local places and he said that they don’t even try to book anything June-September because no one will leave their house to go out and brave the heat. As it stands, five minutes outside is enough for me. Praise Air conditioning. IMG_3513.jpg2. The internet in my hood, Mahboula, is…how do I put this nicely….choppy. I’ll be halfway through my episode of Dawson’s Creek and Dawson is just about to kiss Joey and then the swirling ring of death comes up and I am informed I do not have the right amount of “bandwidth” for “streaming.” Yes, well, I do not have the right amount of “patience” for “this sh*t.” But alas, I have no choice. So lately, I have gotten really good at getting random things done in between breaks in the streaming. Watch five minutes. Wash a dish. Watch seven minutes. Empty the dryer. Watch ten minutes. Dump aforementioned laundry on the floor. Watch six minutes. Stare at the laundry hoping it will put itself away. Watch 15 more minutes. You get the idea. Clearly though, I have been present on social media, so I’m not exactly roughing it.

3. Many people in Kuwait live a life of luxury. My apartment that has been provided to me free of cost is great and really spacious. However, construction in Kuwait is not an exact science. If your bathtub is…say… not totally level, water might run out onto the floor. Instead of building it totally level with the rest of the room, they install drains in the floor, just to be on the safe side.

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Likewise they install knobs on the wall to control water pressure and adjust overall temperature. If these knobs don’t turn because they are too close to the joint in the wall, the philosophy here is to just knock out a few tiles and then, voila! They can turn!

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4. Kuwait has a lot of American chain restaurants which provide all the comforts of home. They also have great online delivery systems for restaurants of all varieties. However,  each restaurant has some variations. The salad dressing at Olive Garden and the lack of certain sauces for your nuggets at Burger King are two of the minor differences I have noticed so far. If you are reading this, send Sweet and Sour sauce!

5. There are no crosswalks and often there are no sidewalks at all. Be prepared to walk on sand, on the side of the road, and play Frogger to cross the street. I have been informed that drivers are “likely” to slow down for you and avoid hitting you because then they would have to stop and file a report which would be a real bummer for their day.

6. The people here so far have been very friendly, both Kuwaiti and expats. Expats means ex-patriots, aka people from other countries.

7. I have never been around more people who want to help you with any issue you are having. From the doorman who helps with the internet connectivity issues to the man who works at the tiny grocery store next door called a bacala (think: bodega) who helps us newbies to count the new form of currency when we are paying. From the bus driver who will take a teacher twenty  minutes back home to get something she left (not me for once) to the amazing co-teachers at the school (they refer to themselves lovingly as the Filipino Mafia) who help you get off the bus with four giant bags and a foldable table and help you cart it up to your classroom four floors up (this one was me). There is a lot of caring for other humans that I have encountered that has made my heart very happy.

8. A lot of expats use taxis. Like in New York City, you can hail a cab from many neighborhoods. However, they don’t all use GPS and know where they are going. They are unmetered as well. To avoid being taken for a ride (figuratively, literally that happens either way) you stick with a list of cab drivers that are trusted by your friends and work colleagues. My favorite driver happens to be Antony. You can call or text him via WhatsApp and he is there. You set a time for him to bring you somewhere and you can set a time for him to pick you up again to bring you home. Plus, he is personable. I know more about him from one week of transportation friendship than I did about my neighbor in Florida that I lived next to for a year. So yeah, we’re pretty much buds at this point.

9. I have mentioned WhatsApp. If you are considering moving overseas, WhatsApp becomes a way of living. You can make phone calls, video chat your friends, and text all via this app that uses data to work. I’m a modern girl after all, and this modern girl has communication needs.

10. In the Summer, the sun goes down here around 6:30pm. It rises before 5am. Good, light blocking curtains, or at least an eye mask, are a MUST.

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So those are the big things so far. I am actually felling pretty comfortable around here a week in. I know this because one of new friends told me a few days ago that I seemed super sweet at first but that she thinks I was holding back on her because my sass is starting to come out now. That has been my integration plan since age six when I started moving every three years. Super sweet at first then, once I find my stride…BAM! In comes the biting wit (or so I like to think). Call me the reverse Sour Patch Kid.

Anyway, I think I’m gonna like it here. FIngers crossed the internet stays up long enough for me to make this post!

 

<3 Erin

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