*This blog post was written on the 28th February, but I don’t have wifi access, so this is belatedly going online when I can get onto the internet*
This morning I woke up at 8am, & given that I’m not a morning person, I had a spring in my step & was out of bed pretty quickly. Louise & I had agreed to meet at 9am, but turns out she wasn’t awake until I banged on her apartment door, so we didn’t head out until about 9.30am. By then I was itching to go. I called Morag, who works in HR & had been assigned to show us around for the day, & she came over to meet us.
First order of the day was a trip to STC to sort out a cell phone. Morag was suspicious that we wouldn’t be able to sort it because we don’t have our Iqama yet (something which I’d also read online), but we did. There was much back & forth between the phone shop & us (we eventually made three trips), but I’m now in the land of the communication! You don’t realise how much you miss using a cell phone until you don’t have it. We don’t yet have wifi in our apartments (that will happen within two weeks apparently), but I have a landline phone in the apartment, & now a cell phone number, so getting there.
After our first trip to STC we went for a quick browse of the grocery store (Lala’s), then Costa Coffee in an attempt to use the free wifi & set up the new phone numbers (we didn’t have any luck). After that we went to meet Morag’s friend Michelle, who works with my manager (Hasma, I think his name is) for lunch & had a barbecue. It was really nice, a proper cooked lunch, & whilst everybody else was working that day, it was so laid back. Apparently it is encouraged for everybody to use their full one hour for lunch, which is nice. In the past I used to just eat at my desk, as I’m sure most people do. Alas- no barbecue lunches for me from now on. My office isn’t based on the compound, & food options are pretty limited in the office.
After our long lunch (also- early. We met at 12pm. Usually I don’t eat lunch until after 1pm. But we start work at 7am here so will be wanting to eat earlier in the day), it was back to STC to try sort out our cell phones (again, failed), so we did a trip to Lala’s to get some basic groceries. I was suitably impressed by the availability of food. There was loads of cheese available (albeit, at a price), the fruit & vegetables looked good enough quality, & it had most house stuff. After Lala’s we came back to the apartments to drop off the shopping, then headed back out to see ‘the ballpark’. Basically, the recreational area. It had a gym, library, movies, bowling alley, cafe, park & playground, swimming pool (with steam room & Jacuzzi), & a restaurant. After having a wander & a drink, we went to see the spin room & yoga studio (which I definitely need to get back too after all the eating & drinking I’ve done in the last few weeks), then to Morag’s apartment to use her wifi & try set up our cell phones. Again- no joy. When realising this we decided to run across to the store before it closed (because apparently closing time is prompt in Saudi), we managed to get the man in the shop to sort it out for us. Hurrah- we are back in the land of the living.
I was really impressed with how everything has been set up, & especially with how friendly everybody has been. We have an induction tomorrow, & somebody is collecting us for that, & Morag is escorting me on my first day of work (because I’m working outside the compound, I have to catch a bus & it can be a bit scary), & she’s also invited us to join her & her friends on several plans they’ve got which is really kind of her. Everybody seems to realise what a daunting move it is, & going out of their way to make it easier for us. After our induction we have the weekend, & then three days of secretarial induction, & then we go face the big bad world.
However, by the time I get to go on wifi, I will have already started work & have had my first few days.