Monday, December 10, 2012

The Reasons Why

In case you haven't heard the news, I've officially resigned my position here. 

There are a lot of reasons and all of them are personal. It took me a long time to accept the fact that personal/emotional reasons were enough to leave a good job behind.

Reason One, "The Most Important One": 

My mood is so unstable here that it's not good for my emotional health. When I first decided to leave, I was wracked with indecision because one day I was ready to hop on a plane, and the next day, I thought it wouldn't be so bad to stay here a year. The changes were so severe and so unpredictable that I felt like I couldn't plan anything in advance because who knows how I would feel when the actual date rolled around?

Reason Two, "The Official Reason":
My Visa. Or lack thereof. When I came here, I was told that I wouldn't be getting a resident's visa or Iqama as it's known in the Arab world. I was fine with that. Iqamas took four weeks to get, you had to go back to your home country to get them, and your employer has the right to keep your passport. I've learned too much about human trafficking to be comfortable with someone taking my passport for safe keeping. 

The visa I came on was a three month, multiple-entry visa that would expire into a single entry visa after three months. Meaning that I could come and go as I pleased the first three months, but after that, if I left, I couldn't get back in. I was told that in January, I could go home and renew this visa in order to travel for another three months in the area. 

The laws of the country have been changing – in the last couple of months, actually – and these visas are no longer available.

I had just bought my plane ticket to go home (after informing my employers this was my intention and receiving positive acknowledgement in return) when I received an email that stated there were no visas, that no one would be able to leave during the school break. I was understandably pissed off. But I didn't cancel my plane flight.

For several days, I sat and stewed. Finally, the CEO came to face us and tell us that, he has Iqamas available, but he wasn't going to give them to us. He said he needed them to bring new teachers in that would replace the teachers who already left. We asked him why he didn't try harder to keep the teachers he already has (i.e.: give us the visas) and he simply shrugged his shoulders. At which point I told him, very calmly, my position: I have paid for a plane flight in January. I will be on that plane, out of the country. If you want me back, then you can get me an Iqama.

I don't think they are going to offer me one, but they may. In which case I would seriously consider coming back.

Reason Three, "The Obvious":
Not being able to leave the house by myself is taking a serious toll on my sanity. Left to my own devices, I like to take long walks by myself to just think. In the Kingdom, I have to walk in circles on my roof inside the high walls like a prisoner. All I see every day is the four walls of my apartment, the four walls at the university, and the things I can glance out the tinted windows as we drive to work.

Reason Four, "The Company":

The way the company treats us has been intolerable from the start. Things like telling us to be ready to go shopping at 6:00am, and then phoning us up three hours later to tell us the trip has been canceled. No other explanation. Like it doesn't matter that we've gotten up ridiculously early and been waiting for three hours. This is only one example of many that include safety issues both in transit (they stranded my friend in the middle of the night on the side of the road without explanation), and at home (our accommodation has only one doorman, who is a string bean of a man, and glass doors). Also a problem is their habit of not paying us so that we can access our money in a timely manner, and not allowing the proper amount of sick days (we have been told, several times, that if we are sick, we should just suck it up and go to work).

Reason Five, "My Goals":
I had certain goals when I came here. They were, in order of priority – be creative, write, learn Arabic, travel to the nearby countries, explore Kingdom Culture, get university experience, and make money.  Being creative and writing is almost impossible when I never see anything new in my life. I was promised free Arabic lessons which have never materialized. I've honestly learned more Urdu than I have Arabic working here. I would do better with Rosetta Stone. Obviously, the visa situation makes travel impossible and I've been out and about in Kingdom Culture for about four months now.  The experience is great, but now I have a semester, so that goal is more or less accomplished. That leaves making money, and doing this only for money is something I suspect I will regret in the future. 

Therefore, I have nothing left to gain by being here.

            UPDATE: They have offered me an Iqama when it seemed that I was serious about going home. I had a couple hours of indecision about why I was really leaving and would my problems really be fixed with an Iqama. I finally decided that getting the visa didn't really make a difference. I am leaving anyway.

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