Life in Riyadh

Things I have learned during my 36-months/5-years stay in Riyadh as a university student:(Of course I am not bad at math)

Since: September 9th, 2011 – Until: May 18th, 2016

– First few weeks will be difficult if not super difficult fighting off the highest level monster in a game. It’s an axiom. But it will pass and it’s up to you and your skills on speeding up the process of adapting.

– Always remember the reason you moved to where you are right now. Remember the goals you set for yourself.

– Motivation is needed, either inner or outer. you’ll need both so deep stare into your soul to get the inner one first, it will last more. Outers are easy come, easy go.

– Whenever you’re running late for your class, never take the train! It’ll be crowded like a hajj season. Instead, trust your legs and race the time.

– Better idea, always wake up earlier.

– Check the weather forecast to decide on what you’re going to wear that day. You don’t want to dress lightly and end up with a cold stomach later on.

– On a second thought, never trust the weather forecast! It’ll tell you it’ll be a bright sunny shiny day and you’ll find yourself choked in a sandstorm!

– Always be prepared for sandstorms, (especially during seasons ends) with a box of masks, and many more masks everywhere!

– If you want to shower, the best time is at night time before you head to bed. You can wash whatever dust and bugs were stuck on you.

– If you are in a hurry, never take the elevators! (Unless you are seriously injured somewhere down there)

– Oh, and please make sure to learn cooking before you decide to leave your town. (your mommy’s favorite dishes won’t come to you on a golden plate through FEDEX)

– You do not want to turn into a cat, eating canned tuna all the time is not what you want to live on.

– Get rid of your bad eating habits. even if it means neglecting or minimizing the portions of the spicy food you’re insanely passionate about. You do not want to get sick when there’s no one around you to spoil you and take care of you.

– Drink double the amount of water you normally do, otherwise getting dehydrated in and out is what will be of you. (Even if it means going to the loo every half an hour)

– Vaseline’s name will grow bigger, and so will your need of Vaseline in your bags (hand, shoulder, back, purse, luggage), bedside table, car and even your office. It’s another way of fighting dehydration.

– Learn the basics of surviving when you’re on your own.

– (If you are Arab) Pretend you’re a foreigner who does not understand Arabic. When you’re out in public, with your “non-covered” face and you do not want drama. It also makes things much much easier even for guys.

– The only type of “hanging out” in Riyadh is going to restaurants and malls. which means getting fat, wasting your money, wasting your money on getting fat and more wasting money! So you better stay in, call your people in, have fun in.

– Make sure you have a driver/car to take you to whatever social events are going on. (Careem/Uber will do good)

– Make use of your time by volunteering. Even if you do not have a driver/car, do your volunteering within your university!

– If your college happens to have interesting extra courses or clubs of your interest, seize the chance before it’s too late.

– Which means try to not ignore the bulletin boards all around you.

– Or, Join a gym and lose all the fats you’ve gained so far.

– Keep yourself busy as much as possible. Seriously. You do not want to be overwhelmed by your emotions whenever you have free time.

– Explore everything where you are at. Only then you would notice the joyful tiny details of the places surrounding you.

– On your break time, stay in the library to chill with a book or to do your people watching, as that’s how nonreaders in libraries have fun somehow…

– Never dispose of the things that make your identity, your accent or dialect from where you come, your habits and the scent of your home.

– Observe more, everything. especially the people you are surrounded by; and keep on mind only few of them will stick with you till the end. (if none at all)


– Never have high expectations from people. (more tips about that will be posted in Basics of Surviving)

– Enjoy it while it lasts, you’ll most probably look back on it and all the lessons you’ve gained.

PS. I wrote this during 2015.


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