Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not all the Saudis fault

Suffice it to say the past 8 weeks here in Riyadh have not been ideal. I was fully aware of some of the difficulties to be expected and in those things I have generally managed alright.  I knew there was no alcohol in the Kingdom and I was worried a little bit about this as 4 years in Ukraine had led to a certain level of imbibing which was probably a little unhealthy but since I've arrived here no real desire for a drink. I think it's because we aren't inundated with ads everywhere and it isn't in any of the shops and there are no bars it's completely out of sight out of mind. Women was another area where I knew the situation beforehand and it hasn't been a problem st least so far I guess we are only 8 weeks in I suppose it could be a different story after 18 weeks.  With regards to females it's not the amorous part I am missing it's the little conversations with random women. There are no waitresses acting a little flirty trying to get a tip, no lady asking for directions, no idle chatter in the supermarket.  Bacon has been replaced by Fakon (Bacon made from beef, no it is not the same I try to avoid it at all costs).  So these potential trouble spots have been fairly easily managed; it's not a perfect situation but I can do without those things. Even my students have been better than I expected, I mean they are pretty horrible students, but they are good kids.  One student an 18 year old young man has yet to bring a pen or paper to a lesson yet but for the past two weeks he has managed to bring his textbooks, baby steps, we are taking baby steps. Despite this, he makes me laugh with his ridiculous comments so the classroom is generally not the war zone I had been expecting.

The majority of my frustration is borne from my fellow teachers. One thing I had been really looking forward to was being surrounded by a collection of like-minded professionals and in this I have been let down.  Working in Odessa 99% of the native speaking English teachers were great to talk to there just wasn't that many of them. When I did my teacher training my fellow trainees were one of the best groups of people I had ever had the chance to work with.  I assumed coming here with 200 other teachers that the workplace environment and corresponding social life would be fantastic and it hasn't been. There are some teachers who have entered the profession late in life and are working here only as a means to pad their retirement a sentiment I can appreciate but this group tend to be some of the most negative soul-sucking complainers I have ever come across, the literally suck the joy out of everything they come near. A great part of this job for me, probably the best part, is the travelling and meeting new people and getting to know a new culture. However, a large segment of the teachers here seem to despise all the people and places they have taught in. Lunchtime conversations inevitably turn to how awful the Koreans, Chinese, Thais, Saudis, or whoever are. I do enjoy picking apart the idiosyncrasies of different locales but the bitterness expressed by some stuns me - why are you teaching? The money is not that good in this profession, go home get a real job.

Of course I am generalizing there are a number of really good teachers here who I enjoy hanging out with and who have not been beaten down by their chosen profession.  Anyways I am sure I will find my niche and all will be well once I settle in a little bit more.

1 comment:

  1. Awww, what nice things to say about our TEFL class! We were a great group if I do say so myself.