FAQ: Headed to Saudi edition

They (finally) sent me my ticket, and I’m flying out this weekend. I figure it’s time I go ahead and post some answers to frequently asked questions about this trip/move to Saudi Arabia. Here it goes…

Why are you going to Saudi Arabia?

I published a post answering this exact question, so I’ll point you there.

What will you be doing there?

My visa says I’m there on business. Really, though, the reason the program is sponsoring my visa is so I can teach English. I signed a contract with McGill University located in Montreal, Canada. McGill partnered with a Saudi education company that’s teaching petrol company employees. So that’s what I’ll be doing, occupation wise.

How will you teach students who don’t speak English at all?

When I went to Korea, I got a lot of questions about whether or not I would need to speak Korean to live there (answer: no, not really). For whatever reason, this time, no one’s really asked about Arabic. What they have asked, though, is how I’ll teach without speaking Arabic (I guess people were more likely to assume I spoke some Korea – no one’s assumed I speak any Arabic).

Anyway, for teaching, we’ll see. My students in Saudi Arabia will be “false” beginners, as opposed to the students I had in Korea who already knew some English when I got to them. So I’m a little nervous about these Saudi students. Overall, I did training in Thailand for this, and I feel pretty confident I’ll get it eventually. It’s just a challenge to run with.

Where are you going to live?

I’ll be staying in a compound just outside Jubail Industrial City, which is on the east coast of Saudi Arabia. I’m sharing a two-bedroom apartment with another teacher in the program. (I mentioned some of what I know about the area where I’ll be living in a post specifically on Jubail. Check that out here if you’re interested.)

Aren’t you scared?

A friend recently pointed out that I seem more worried about my students, getting everything ready for them, than about physical danger. That’s pretty accurate.

I’m not really scared of the country. I know trying to communicate with people who don’t speak English can sometimes lead to some interesting and potentially┬ánerve-wracking conversations, but I’m not worried about getting hurt. I’m more worried about how I’ll do as a teacher. I’m technically qualified to teach the classes, I guess, but it’s always a little tense jumping in at first.

I’m looking forward to the challenge, though, and overall excited about the opportunity and the experiences I’ll gather and share along the way.

“This is a great adventure.”