America to Saudi Arabia - Repat Interview With Carol

Published: 1 Dec at 3 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Saudi Arabia
Carol Fleming-Al-Ajroush has not had the typical expat journey. Prior to her marriage to a Saudi national, Carol had traveled to more than 100 countries while working for the Central Intelligence Agency. She had the opportunity to live in Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and Iraq where she experienced the unique customs, traditions and culture of each country. Carol established the American Bedu blog in September 2006 as a medium in which to share her experiences of life in Saudi Arabia with friends and family. However, upon their encouragement she made American Bedu public to the world and writes daily posts about the customs, culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia and what it is like to experience daily life as an expat who was also became part of a large Saudi family. Due to the 2010 death of Carol's husband to a rare leukemia and Carol's ongoing battle with Stage IV breast cancer she now resides back in the United States near to her family. Carol's blog is called American Bedu (see listing here)

American Bedu

Here's the interview with Carol...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from the United States.

In which country and city are you living now?
Due to the death of my Saudi husband to cancer and my own ongoing battle with cancer, I am now living back in the United States. However I continue to blog daily about the life, customs and traditions of Saudi Arabia.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 2006 to 2009. It had become a second home due to marriage to a Saudi national. We intended to have permanent homes between Riyadh and the United States but my husband's untimely death changed those plans.

American BeduWhy did you move and what do you do?
I moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with my husband in 2006 because at that time he had completed a four year posting with the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC and was due to return back to his home country for an assignment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While in Riyadh I worked as a consultant to Saudi Arabian Television and also at the Saudi Arabian National Guard Health Affairs.

Did you bring family with you?
We did bring three cats from the United States to Riyadh!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I had lived most of my adult life abroad so it was an easy transition to Saudi Arabia. What is important is to keep a positive mindset. Minimize exposure to what you dislike and maximize exposure to what you like best.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was very easy to make friends and meet people. Prior to arrival in Riyadh I had like-minded friends thanks to various internet forums and of course, through my own blog. Due to marriage with a Saudi national, I socialized among both Saudis and expats on a daily basis.

American BeduWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Travel to as many places as you can within Saudi Arabia. Each city and town has unique places, sights and museums. It is also a great place for outdoor activities such as camping and picnicking in the desert, sand surfing, geo-caching and horseback riding. The Red Sea also offers unique diving opportunities in Saudi's Farasan Islands.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I had a very comfortable life with great friends among both Saudis and expats. I enjoyed socializing with friends and Saudi family and especially exploring new places with my husband.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
The cost of living in Riyadh was lower than compared to Washington, DC. We were able to live in a spacious and comfortable villa and have full time domestic help.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The negatives depended on an individual's outlook. Saudi Arabia is more conservative than other countries. Women can not drive and are expected to wear a black abaya covering from neck to ankles anytime out in public.

American BeduIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Do plenty of advance research, participate in online forums and come with a positive attitude. Additionally, remember you are a GUEST in a foreign country as well as an unofficial representative of your own country.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest part was being in Saudi when my first grandchild was born in America.

When you returned home, how did you cope with repatriation?
It has been an adjustment. But my case is rather unusual. I went from being married to my best friend and living in his country to a new widow fighting an insidious disease while re-adapting back to life in America.

American BeduWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. research.
  2. open mindset.
  3. find like-minded friends.
  4. be respectful of customs and traditions even if you do not agree with them.
  5. reach out to the Saudis and get to know them.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started American Bedu shortly before my late husband and I left for Riyadh in 2006. It was going to be the mechanism in which I shared my experiences and impressions with family and friends. However, they in turn encouraged me to have the blog open to the world. As a result, I got in to the habit of writing daily posts on the customs, cultures, traditions and experiences of daily life in Saudi Arabia as the expat wife of a Saudi.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted through email: admin{at}americanbedu{dot}com

Carol blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. American Bedu has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Carol, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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