My Story

After the video we watched in class last week, I felt that I should share my story with you guys. From my experience as an international student from Saudi Arabia, I always think that I’m not only getting a degree here in the US, I’m also representing Saudi as a country and culture. Since I got here in 2011, I was fascinated by how whenever I say I’m from Saudi people always ask me to talk about Saudi and they admire that I left my country, family, and language to pursue my dreams. The funny thing they all have to ask is “Do women drive in Saudi”, and of course the answer is no women don’t drive in Saudi not yet (of course at that time, because 3 weeks ago women have be given the permission to drive). Their immediate question will be “Why”, So I have to explain by first making sure that it’s not about religion all women from other Muslim countries drive. It’s the culture, Saudi people really care about their mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. They believe that they have to make sure that they are well taken care of. And of course, I have to tell them that if we don’t drive that does not mean we just stay home and don’t go out. We still have fun and go out we have shopping malls, cafes, and restaurants.

So that now women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, there is a lot to think about.

First, Before driving in Saudi Arabia I need to know all the rules and laws I have to follow, to make sure I’m not violating any of them. So, what kind of rules are putting in place for this now movement? As a Saudi woman who drives and learned how to drives here in the US, I did so by learning the rules here and what to do and not do according to the US laws.

Second, how we as citizens will adapt to this transition, and what is the public opinions are. What I hear from my close friends and family is that for now, they are waiting to see how this transition affect the way people look at it and how the government is handling that. Other people are actually taking action and start driving an hour after the announcement. And of course, there are some who are totally against the idea who thinks that it will affect the norms and values of our culture.

For me, even though I’m driving here I’m not going to drive in Saudi Arabia until I see that everything is in place. I’m really excited for this movement and looking forward to seeing how my country and people will go about this transition.

10 Replies to “My Story”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is very interesting that you noted all the rules and laws that you had to learn about the US. I feel that every culture has its own respective rules and laws that guide how people act and behave. In order to be a part of that community and culture, we need to honor those laws and rules to gain a deeper understanding of what life looks like from the people in that culture and community. Thank you again for sharing your perspective and story.

  2. This is awesome! Thank you for sharing. I had always heard about women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, but I had never heard such a thorough explanation (which I feel is the wrong word to use here) of the rule. It really makes me look at it from another perspective. And like Rudi said, your response teaches us a feature of another culture and its practices. Thank you!

  3. I had a labmate from Saudi Arabia back in Washington State University. We talked a lot about this driving restrictions for women. He also mentioned that the Saudi society cares a lot about women and don’t want them to get on the road and make them vulnerable. However, it’s great that women can drive now. You must be very excited to go back and press the gas!

  4. Wow, thank you for sharing your personal experience. Before reading your post I did have a very different opinion on the topic. My arguments were just regarding how unfair it was that men were aloud to drive and women do not. But now, I have the full picture an it make me realize how woman are value in your country and it totally changes my thoughts.

  5. Knowing the whole story before judging… I think the example you gave in relation to driving might be one of many misinterpretations that people have because of “lack of knowledge”… thank you for sharing

  6. Stupid me! When I heard the Saudi women do not drive, I thought it was discriminant against women automatically. It’s refreshing to hear the explanation from you, someone who is actually from that place. As a Chinese, I also have the feeling that I’m representing Chinese people back in the country. Thank you for sharing this. Now I understand more.

    1. Good to hear Wejdan.

      And Qichao, I get the same feeling – we Americans are representing our country to the visiting students. It is easy to turn on the television and see ugliness in the American news- but hopefully the foreign grad students, who do return home, have fond memories of their American colleagues. 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. National diversity not only stimulates the development of modern society but also offer a communication opportunity to listening and sharing the stories and experience. Congratulations that women have rights to control the vehicle. As the first time, I study in London. One of my classmates asked that are all man in China still have a long hair? I was totally shocked. “Are you serious, the hairstyle you mentioned is 100-years ago!!!”

  8. I like that you mention representing your country! I think it is absolutely important for us as international students to always keep that at the back of our mind. Especially since we may become that ‘single story’ that a person we meet knows about us, our country and our culture.

  9. It’s so great to hear your story! Foreign countries are always mysterious and people want to know more about what is happening outside. It’s an exciting change that women can drive in Saudi Arabia and I believe women will obtain more rights in the future.

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