– So, where do you live ?
– I live in Kuwait.
– Ah… And you have to cover your head, right ?
Every conversation about my expatriation and my life in Kuwait end up like this. Kuwait is not a dream-country but … in fact, it’s ok.
But, where is Kuwait ?
Let me introduce Kuwait. It’s a small country between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It’s mostly after this sentence that the look people have on my life in Kuwait changes. There is around 4 millions inhabitants in Kuwait, fewer Kuwaitis than expatriates, there is no lake, no river, a desert without dunes, big roads everywhere and a lot of beautiful cars.
That’s it. It’s a bit cliché but I think it’s the way people imagine Kuwait and it’s how I saw the country when I arrived.
Alcohol is illegal, as pork is. 85% of kuwaiti population is Muslim, the rest is Christian or Hindou. Sometimes, in cinemas, movies are censored – some scenes are just cut – but some of them have french subtitles. There is some museums but to be honest, I’ve never visited them !
Why Kuwait ?
My choice for Kuwait looks like a small joke. I was struggling to find a job in Paris. I was a French-as-a-foreign-langage teacher an internship in a school and I was giving night classes in another school. I’d just broke up with my boyfriend so I started looking for a job outside of France.
I applied in Kuwait because my dad worked there when he was younger, before the war. He wanted to bring my mum in Kuwait and move to Kuwait forever, but his contract was not renewed because of the politic situation. My parents love souvenirs and when they travel they bring a lot of things. So, my dad came back from Kuwait with a lot of souvenirs, included a small representations of the Kuwait Towers and an Arabic tea pot. I saw a lot of pictures of my young dad in front of the Kuwait Towers in his albums. I grew up with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as a backdrop.
So, when I saw this job offer in Kuwait, I applied directly, but only because my dad worked there before. I also applied in Cambodia, Rio de Janeiro, Thailand and New York. At the end of June, the Lycée Français de Koweit contacted me. I passed the interview and I got the job !
The 27 of August 2015, my Qatar Airways flight landed at the international airport of Kuwait and I walked on the Kuwaiti ground for the first time under 47° Celsius.
And what about me ?
The first year was a bit complicated : everything was new for me. To start, the weather. I’ve been sick the complete year, the air conditioning, the heat, the cold in winter, the bad isolation in the houses and the kids, my immune system is now on the top.
I didn’t know how and what to wear : can I wear skirts ? Is there a dress-code ? Do I have to cover my legs and my arms ? A lot of questions for only one answer : I can wear whatever I want. There is no law about clothes in Kuwait but there is usages. I only wear skirts and I never had problems. But, and I think it’s very personal, I never go out with a tank top because I really feel not comfortable wearing this.
During the interview with the director of the school, he told me you will see, life in Kuwait is really calm and quiet. And three years after, I can say it : life in Kuwait is really calm and quiet. Some people are bored, but I am not. I have an easy life with a comfort I can’t have in France with my job. I have a two bedrooms flat, I bought my car, I adopted a little adorable cat, I have a job I like and enough time to do whatever I want to do.
So, OK, I don’t go out every night, there is no afterwork, I dont walk around in the streets and I don’t sit on the grass in parks to eat. But if I start staying focus on what I can’t do, I can’t see what I can do.
I can go to tan at the beach from April to November, I can drive luxury cars (yeah, ok, we learn how to like what life can give us !), I have enough time to do what I like (this blog) and try new things (sewing, for example) and most important, I am not stressed or nervous anymore and I have enough time to think about what can I do to be a better person.
I can also enjoy life in a really safe country. Every time I take the metro or the train in Paris, I realize that I live in a safe bubble. In Kuwait, in restaurant, we leave our things on the table (phones or wallets) when we go to the bathroom and when we come back, it’s still there ! I also run at 4AM sometimes and nothing never happened : I am not afraid. Since I am in Kuwait, I am not scared or nervous anymore.
In Kuwait, we practice slowlife, without knowing the concept. Everybody drives fast but we enjoy every minute of the day. We always are late but it’s not a big deal, every problem is solved in a calm way, we go to bed late, we live at night, we live slowly when it’s hot and every slower during Ramadan. We spend hours in coffee enjoying the day, and we go to restaurant every time we are hungry.
Three years after landing in Kuwait, I love my life. I love this pleasant routine, I love the comfort I live in, and I love to not be stressed or nervous anymore. If I had to do it again ? Without any hesitation !