Graduates’ Dilemma

"So what are you up to?"

"I just finished university and I am looking for a job. I don't know where I shall look."

This was a typical answer that I've heard on more than one occasion from the fresh graduates I've met this summer. I admit that I was in their same shoes 15 months ago and it was one of the major and toughest decisions I had to make in my life.

Unless you have a Wasta and connections, graduates in general don't have a clue on where they shall start their career because of the many crucial factors that will directly affect your life.

  1. "Origin of your university degree" - If you've studied in your home country, then most probably you target yourself to work in your home country or gulf region. If you've studied in western world (US/UK/Canada), then your chances of working in the western world is higher
  2. "How close are you to family" – how dependent are your family on you? Do you think that your family are constraining you from enjoying an expected level of freedom? Many graduates irrationally rush to be expats before they realize that they were closely tied to their families or dependent on them
  3. "How adaptive you are" – especially when it comes to relocating from West to Middle East region or vice versa. Leaving all the people you know to start a new life somewhere else takes alot of courage and tolerance when you have a cultural shock in terms of the lifestyle, people and society.
  4. "Money" – let's face it. Nothing beats the gulf region (with the exception of Dubai I think) when it comes to making money and saving. Cars are cheap, fuel is cheap. And thanks to the Chinese industry, you can always find clothes, accessories, furniture that is a very good replica of the originals and at quarter or even less the original prices. You can always manage to find pirated copies of software, DVDs and games. The point is that you get to choose the standard of living that suits you. You can find the cheap products as well as the originals.


Living in the western world has its advantages. Unlike the gulf region, you rarely find the discrimination between the rich and poor, between locals and foreigners. Everybody uses public transport. Anybody can work in any job and its not considered a shameful thing. A Master student could be working as a gardener as part time job and be into snowploughing in the winter. You learn to be self-dependent. You fill up your own car at the gas station, and you wash it. There isn't any Bengali or a Pakistani guy who does it for you. All this comes at the expense of the high taxes and the uptight standard of living that would keep you busy managing your own finance and surviving in that competitive world.

And then you have people. It is a two edged sword. What's great about our culture is how people are willing to volunteer and give help when needed. It is not unusual to find people helping an old person cross the street, or help a lady carry her bags. On the other hand, these social obligations are absent in western societies. People rarely bother to help offer guidance for lost ones. It is such a materialistic culture that lacks trust and caring for fellow human beings. This reminds me of the first time I rode a subway in Toronto. There was an old guy who was seated in an awkward position covering his head in a way as if he is knocked unconscious. We passed by more than 8 stations and this guy never moved a muscle. I was surprised that no body bothered to approach to wake him up or see if he is alive. People seem never to care.

Whereas these strong social commitments are considered a positive aspect about our culture that does not mean that I despise the western culture. With time, I started to like the "I don't care" attitude. You don't feel the 'peer' pressure that you'd normally find at our part of the world. You don't see nosy people interrogating you with questions "how much money are you making?" "Who's that person that you ditched me for?" You don't find silly people who match the colour of faceplate of their phone with the colour of their clothes (trust me I know someone who does). Or show-off people who are willing to break their leg to show their visitors on how their company are paying for FIRST CLASS treatment in one of the best hospitals in the city (and unfortunately, I know someone who did it).

And after all, it all comes down to the person. Personally, I've suffered in my first few months in Canada. It was such a depressing period because it is not easy to find a person who has a similar mentality or share a similar background to discuss the concerns of settling there. But with time, I managed to settle and gel with the community. My last few months were amazing. It constituted part of the best summer I had in my life. When I took the decision to settle back in Jeddah, I went through the same phase all over again; the ability to filter my thinking and my actions from the experiences I've learned abroad and tune my character back to the old culture that reminds me how narrow-minded and primitive I were. Nowadays, I feel that I have developed the skills that made me capable of settling anywhere in the world.

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P.S: my employer is sending me on my first mission abroad to one of the most politically instable areas in the world (try to guess what it is ;) ). I will blog all about once my 8 day journey finishes...that's IF (and that's a big IF) I come back. It all boils down to how lucky I am and whether I'll survive the trip or not. So meanwhile, Ramadan Mubarak to all of you and happy birthday to those who'll have a birthday next week. And oh don't blog much in my absence. I will only read and comment on the last post when I come back. :P. So keep it a post a week.

8 comments:

KJ said...

Very nice post!

I guess it truly comes down to the person himself or herself and how tolerant and/or exposed they are to different kinds of cultures, people and experiences.

Good luck on your trip and Eid Mubarak to you too. I am definite you can make it and waiting for you to pop up on Gtalk

Ms Loala said...

"prepares a funeral for hamza"


Just kidding :P



Oh come on, don't be such a pessimist, if you died you'd die a martyr!



Again just kidding!!


Don't be like that, just take care of yourself wenshalla ya36eek 6olat el 3umot b3dain ;)

And a great post btw.
I always say that settleing abroad is a great opportunity for a person to start over and find out who he really is without his acquaintance around, and measure his capabilties of survival and make it through the day.

Good luck and come back soon.

Isam Abu Salhieh said...

nice post ... i really cant choose wheather to live in jordan , europe , USA , gulf ... it is really confusing ...


" And oh don't blog much in my absence."

MAN that was sooo stolen from my goodbye post before i went to jordan !!!! have some dignity man !!! :P

troo7 o terja3 bel salame ...

elijah said...

Good luck, whenever I go to a new place, it takes me time to adjust, but it's a good thing, you learn a lot and become independent. i think the helping people part is not about the west or east, it depends if you're in an industrial city or not. Wherever you go you'll find that.

Don't die on us, we want our gifts :)

eshda3wa said...

u goin to bagdad?

im terrified of moving back home

ma3na there are no restraints or obligations
i just am

7aki Fadi said...

nice post.

troo7 w trija3 bissalamhe :)

Nora Cassandra said...

Living abroad! Now that was experience for me more than 1 time! It’s not easy to start from zero all over again! I mean find friends, maybe a job, accommodation some times and so much more! When I moved back to Finland after 15 years in Kuwait I did find it so difficult, and as the years past, and many works and schools came and went, I got used to it! Then I move to Cyprus! Where I have to do that all over again! But here I am today mixture of cultures no one excepting me fully (except my husband, daughter and some family members)! I love who I became, and what will come to me! I think it’s amazing what you could learn from moving around the world! I live in an I DON’T CARE world myself!

About the phone cover; man that’s funny! About the breaking a leg; now man that is pathetic!

Hope your trip goes all well! Will be waiting for you!

Kinano said...

Beaver! :(

Be safe ok, we dont want you coming back, uh, in less than one piece or something.