Gatsby… oh Great Gatsby

September 24, 2014

This night… what a wonderful, wonderful night. It seems so long ago as I write this post now, on the 21st of November)… but it really wasn’t that long ago!

This night, and this whole weekend actually, will go down in the books as one of the greatest weekends of my life. Octoberfest brunch at Uncle Sam’s house (the US embassy) and a Gatsby-themed dinner party at a beautiful resort… meeting absolutely wonderful new people and re-connecting with other absolutely wonderful people…

Octoberfest brunch at the US embassy was a lot of fun!!! Good food… some foods I haven’t had in ages 😉 and some beverages that were particularly refreshing out in the hot sun. It was really really warm in the sun but that definitely didn’t stop people from dancing and having fun! I met a bunch of really great warm and friendly people who I can’t wait to hang out with again! Unfortunately, the brunch ended early in the afternoon… wasn’t nearly ready to stop yet… oh well…

Next event of the day…

So, somehow, I managed to get myself invited to yet another themed party… with minimal time to prepare! Fortunately, a Gatsby themed party doesn’t require crazy outfits… just a lot of sequins and feathers and gold and such. Not hard to acquire in this country!!

I went to the dinner party with a bunch of girls from my orientation group as somehow, despite being invited by different people, we all were ending up at the same party! And parties are always more fun and exciting when you get to experience them with your girls!!

The drive out to the resort took a while… but when we got there, it was absolutely gorgeous!! Long palm tree lined driveways… beautiful fountains…

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And a golden horse that rotated slowly, near the entrance to the party!!

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There were tables set up outside on the patio for dinner with beautiful, colorful flower balls overhead and stunning flower arrangements on the tables… beautiful lights…

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We arrived around 930, thinking we’d be late for dinner as we were told it started at 9pm. Totally forgot that we’re in Saudi, and things run on Saudi time… which is generally behind! Dinner wasn’t served until nearly midnight… so we got to sit around and enjoy lovely drinks and met a whole bunch of wonderful new people… and reconnected with the girls from the orientation group as well as from the radiation clinic.

After dinner the music started and we danced a bit… but mostly we just chilled on the patio in the beautiful night air just talking with all the great new people we got to meet…

It was such a beautiful evening… I feel like the luckiest girl ever sometimes!!! Who throws just a simple dinner party that looks like this??!!!

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I really loved these brilliant flower balls! They were huge!! Like a good 2 feet in diameter!!!

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And the pretty white/blue lights with long glowy strands you could wrap around yourself…

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Even the bathrooms were pretty!!!

imageAnd finally… shortly before sunrise… the shwarma came out and we stuffed our faces with shwarma before we left to go back home…

imageIt was an absolutely wonderful weekend… full of friendship and laughter and relaxation and just really good times building memories and connections with beautiful people!!! Really enjoying this life out here!!

More to come… stay tuned…

xo

Annemarie

 

Typical Girls Nights Out…

September 24, 2014

Marhaba…

I apologize for the lateness of these posts (It is already November as I’m writing this…) I’m struggling to get this blog completely up to date… but I think I’m making some headway…

On a side note… since it is November 15th as I write this… I’m listening to Spotify radio and it is amazing!!! I was finally able to download and activate my account… So I have good tunes while I blog! Yay!!!

Anyways… so this post is just another newsy-this-is-what-i-did-on-September-24-post…

Shopping… it’s a favorite past-time of almost all women anywhere in the world… but I think in Saudi women probably shop infinitely more than any other women in the world. For starters, there are huge shopping centers on nearly every corner… and then there’s really not that much that women can easily do here in Saudi, so they shop.

Sarah and I went to Kingdom Center to go shopping… nothing but beautiful shoes and handbags in mind…but as neither of us had had dinner yet and as it was nearly prayer time and all the shops would shut down… we decided to check out Elements at the Four Seasons Hotel (which is located in Kingdom Center) and have dinner while we waited for everything to open up again.

What we didn’t realize, is that Elements is a really really great buffet and we’d spend the entire evening eating and hanging out at the restaurant rather than getting much shopping done!!

Elements is an international cuisine buffet… it’s gorgeous and the food is amazing… especially the “puddings” as my aussie and kiwi friends say. (The desserts… as the rest of the world says…) We may have absolutely stuffed our faces on sushi, indian food, saudi food, salads, and fabulous deserts…

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So much absolutely delicious food, although my sweet tooth probably seriously favored the desert buffet!!

And check this out… beautiful flower arrangements and chandelier in the lobby of the restaurant. Beautiful… extravagant… amazing!!image

Anyways… After much food… many laughs and absolutely wonderful conversation, Sarah and I left the restaurant to go shopping for a little bit… but not before we sampled some delicious Saudi coffee and dates… and got a photo of the coffee guy in his traditional attire!!

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(May I just insert in here that I am so extremely happy to have made a friend like Sarah!! We’re both Canadian, both work in very similar fields of nursing and are extremely passionate about we do! We have similar life experiences that have led us to be here. And although we are hugely different in some cultural/religious aspects, we share so many similar values and beliefs… and I am so blessed to have made a friend like her… right from the beginning of my time here in Saudi! And to share all these new and exciting experiences with someone else who is also new and supremely enthusiastic about it all… it’s wonderful!)

So… carrying on… Kingdom Center has a ladies floor!! The best part about this shopping center for sure. It is on the top floor of the mall, staffed by only women, and only women are allowed on the 3rd floor! The shops all have dressing rooms… truly wonderful!!! And there are some fabulous shops… such as Saks Fifth Avenue and such…

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On the 2nd floor… there are a great number of wonderful shops also that I only dream of being able to actually afford to shop at… like Christian Louboutin, Chanel, etc…

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So for now I’ll just pose with a pair of Loubs that maybe someday, I’ll own… Inshallah.

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And that is the end of our wonderful evening of fabulous food and even more fantastic company…

So Masalama for now

Saudi National Day

September 23, 2014

Happy Saudi National Day!! Mubarek Saudi Arabia!! Today is the 84th Saudi National Day!

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image It is celebrated every September 23, however, it was considered haram for some time, and it wasn’t actually even official or officially celebrated until a few years ago when King Abdullah pushed for the official celebration of the day, based on proven facts that it was celebrated earlier in the country’s history.

I wish I could say that I went out and fully celebrated this day… but unfortunately I’d heard that the city kind of goes crazy and its a great day to get in a severe car accident… not exactly on my bucket list for today…

People apparently drive in droves into the city and head downtown and drive around everywhere… like even greater lunatics than usual… and as if the traffic wasn’t bad enough already… the streets are absolutely packed on this day! So I stayed put in the safety of the hospital compound for the day.

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The hospital had green and white balloons everywhere and various displays and celebrations for Saudi National Day… I managed to snag a rose and a flag near the end of the day…

And… I enjoyed a coffee at Starbucks with my nursing girlfriends… (note  how the colors of the Starbucks sign are actually perfectly Saudi… all the green??!! You’d almost think it was a Saudi company, not an American one!)

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Even the hospital cafeteria was celebrating Saudi National Day with a menu of traditional Saudi foods… lots of Kabsa(rice with spices and meat and such, probably one of the most traditional Saudi foods)… and just so much food in general!! This country is going to make me gain WAY too much weight. All the carbs!!! So delicious tho… but I can understand the obesity problem in this country now when almost every dish is served with a significant amount of white rice and we all know white rice is not the healthiest of carbs!!

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Anyways… it was delicious!!!

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The sky was pretty green at night… Riyadh at night is a beautiful place that shines with many colorful lights in general… but tonight in honor of Saudi National Day… the lights were green everywhere, especially on Kingdom Tower!

So… next year, if I’m still here… I’ll definitely be going out to celebrate this day!!

Masalama for now…

xx

Annemarie

Welcome to the Radiation Team

September 18, 2014

Today is Thursday. And Thursday means it is a relatively quiet and lazy day in the Radiation Clinic. No doctors clinics. Just a few drop in patients who might need to see a nurse/doctor before the weekend but nothing scheduled.

So it is generally a day where we have inservices and various presentations for “staff development” and such.

And we also get to have parties!!!

I’ve been in Radiation Clinic for almost a month now, and Vivian has just arrived. So the unit held a welcome party for us… and a masalama (goodbye) party for Esperenza who is leaving us for another department.

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The great thing about Thursdays here in Radiation Clinic is that there are no official clinics so it is so much less busy… Although it does get a little boring! But today it’s a good thing because we could easily spend some time decorating the staff room…

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And easily spend an hour or so at lunch hanging out with the whole radiation interdisciplinary team… The radiation therapists, the nurses, even our head nurse and the doctors. I really really enjoy this group of people actually… and coming from a region in Canada, just outside Vancouver, where the majority of my coworkers were Caucasian as well as the majority of our patients… it is a wonderful experience to work with people from all around the world!!

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I must say… it is absolutely wonderful to have a coworker from back home here with me… it helps you gain perspective one days when its a little hard to find a positive perspective… or when you’re feeling particularly challenged by the differences in practice between Saudi Arabia and Canada… It’s nice to have a friend who understands where you come from and what it was like back home… So, I’m very happy to have Vivian here with me!

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There was so much food there it was a little ridiculous almost!! Asking everyone to bring a dish for a potluck results in excessive amounts of food. But in this extremely multicultural workplace, it’s great because we get to sample food from all over the world! Homemade sushi, Saudi dishes, Indian food, ceasar salad (my contribution as requested… Tried to make it with turkey bacon but it just doesn’t crisp up or taste as delicious on top of ceasar salad as the real stuff!!)

Anyways…. It was a really great way to end the workweek… especially because after the potluck, all of us nurses just sat around chit chatting and building friendships with each other!

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The end. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

xx

Annemarie