Welcome to Kuwait

August 29, 2016
expat, kuwait, living abroad

Hello and welcome to Nutritionista Abroad! Thank you for stopping by to read my first ever blog post. I’m Sheli and I decided to start a blog because we (the husband and I) just moved to Kuwait and I have a liiiittle extra time on my hands.

Luckily, at present, I have more than just a little time because who knew blogging was SO. MUCH. WORK?? I mean, serious kudos to all of the successful bloggers out there. I don’t even want to think about all of the hours they’ve put in.

Moving internationally is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done/continue to do. Even though moving abroad has always been part of our theoretical life plan, once you actually start the process it becomes very overwhelming, very fast.  Leaving everyone and everything you have ever known, packing up everything you own – either for storage or to take with you, and giving the rest away was definitely a challenge. Now add to the fact that you’re moving to a Middle Eastern, Muslim country with pasty white skin and light brown hair and you even have to leave behind your precious dog for a few months. Whew!

Before deciding to move to Kuwait we did a lot of research and here’s some of what we knew coming in:

  • Average summer temps of 110-125 degrees F
  • Average winter temps of 30-60 degrees F
  • It’s a dry country (Meaning NO alcohol. No glass of wine with dinner or meeting a friend for a beer.)
  • Dogs are allowed in without a quarantine (if paperwork is in order)
    • But, for their own safety, they cannot be transported in summer months
  • Women can drive
  • Modest dress is expected but women are not required to wear any traditional Muslim coverings
  • There are 18 countries we can visit for less than $300 each, round-trip from Kuwait
  • It’s a pretty safe place
  • It’s the only Middle Eastern country that recognizes Christianity and has churches in addition to mosques

We’ve been in Kuwait for just over one week. Last Wednesday we got on a plane in D.C. with a total of 13 bags and flew 14 hours to Dubai. After a 4 hour layover, we flew one more hour to Kuwait.

We flew down the coast of Kuwait for quite a ways so we were able to see what the country looked like outside of the city. It’s brown. Obviously I knew we were moving to the desert but looking out that plane window and ONLY seeing brown as far as the eye could see was still a little striking. In Kuwait’s defense though, Dubai is also very brown from above. Once you’re on the ground the city actually does have some green.

When we landed, I was nervous, scared, exhausted, and expecting to basically be lost as soon as we stepped off the plane. But, much to my surprise and relief, we were greeted by our liaison as soon as we stepped into the airport. He took care of my visa (Kyle already had his), took us through passport control, got some helpers to load all of our bags up for us, took us through customs, got us loaded into a van, and provided the driver with the address for our apartment.

The drive was maybe 20 minutes but I had to fight to stay awake and catch a glimpse of the city. We drug all of our bags into the elevator and back off again and into a shiny new (to us anyway) apartment.

I love our apartment. Partly because we have a great view and partly because we have 2 bathrooms again. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have TWO bathrooms again because living with a boy is just gross. Right?? We also have a small gym and swimming pool, where I’m training to be the next Katie Ledecky. Be watching for me in Tokyo in 2020.

For the past week we’ve been unpacking, going to malls – because there are like a million here with more coming soon, and trying to figure out the area. We need our civil ID’s before we can get a car, which takes about a month. Given that the city is pretty sprawling, we haven’t been able to explore too much with just taxi’s. It’s also a bit of a challenge getting mops/brooms and garbage cans into taxi’s but we’re managing. Needless to say, I’ll be happy when the civil ID is ready.

I’m also still trying to get a good grasp on what’s acceptable for western women to wear here. So far, for the most part, I’ve stuck to wearing jean capris (those are all the rage right now, right??), linen pants, and t-shirts. I’ve seen a total of about 5 women wearing sleeveless dresses in the last week so I guess I’m good to go. Overall I’m not complaining about the modest dress code one bit. But ask me again after I try to run outside.

Which brings me to the desert heat. If you don’t know (and haven’t read my About Me section, which is your next stop, right?), I am originally from Arkansas. Arkansas spelled backwards = HUMIDITY. When we would tell anyone where we’re moving and the current temperature the normal response was “at least it’s a dry heat”, to which I thought “if it’s over 110 degrees it doesn’t matter if it’s dry or not”.

I was wrong. In the last 7 days, 2 of them were just slightly (compared to Arkansas standards) humid, and holy cow did that make a HUGE difference! Give me the dry heat, I want alllll the dry heat – take the humidity far, far away!

Don’t get me wrong, 110+ degrees is still HOT but is, for me anyway, somewhat tolerable. And that includes the days we’ve walked 10+ blocks to grocery stores in the hottest part of the day.

Why did we walk 10+ blocks at 3 PM in 115 degree heat? What was so important that we couldn’t wait until the sun went down, especially given that pretty much every store is open 24 hours? Starvation? Illness? Impending death? I have no idea. Maybe we were just bored. I’m just gonna chalk that up to a rookie mistake and call it good. But hey, we survived, so there’s that.

And the evenings here, except for the humid ones, have been more than tolerable – dare I say nice even?  And although we haven’t met that many people here yet, they’ve all been more than kind.

I was shocked by the grocery stores. So far there hasn’t been anything we can’t find. Lactose free milk and yogurt are crazy expensive but everything else is pretty on par with US prices. Fresh produce was sometimes hard to come by in DC but we really haven’t had any problems here. Most of the grocery stores we’ve been to double as an ‘everything you could ever need’ store. They have 2 levels with ramp escalators so you can take your cart up and down. One floor has all the food and the other has home things – pillows, blankets, towels, rugs, everything you could ever need in the kitchen, serving wear, cleaning, and outdoor things. That has helped tremendously with shopping without a car. Sort of like a Super Wal-Mart but more Bed, Bath, Beyond meets Whole Foods without the crazy prices.

The worst thing about Kuwait is that Roxy isn’t here yet, but I know she’s being well cared for by my awesome in-laws until she can come over. I’m hoping for November at the latest.

I still have a lot to learn about Kuwait but I honestly think I’m going to really like it here.

If you made it this far through my very first post you deserve 2 gold stars! Thanks for sticking it out while I get my feet wet. I hope you come back for my next post on Monday!

expat, kuwait, living abroad

Goodbye USA!

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