Changing Departments: Off to Oncology Clinic

October 23, 2014

So I’ve been in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center for about 2.5 months now.

I had originally applied to KFSH&RC because I wanted to become an oncology nurse and learn chemotherapy. At home, it is fairly difficult to get into chemotherapy clinics as positions are usually snatched up by staff with much more seniority.

So learning that KFSH&RC was opening a big a new cancer center and looking to train new staff… I jumped at the opportunity to come here and learn new skills.

Unfortunately… but not really… I ended up in the Radiation Clinic for a few months initially as this is where I had some background experience back home. But after 2.5 months… of really not utilizing my Radiation Therapy nursing skills… and not much of my nursing skills in general… I realized I had to switch departments. To something a little more intense… where I’d actually learn what I’d come out to Saudi Arabia to do!

I requested a department transfer to the Oncology Clinic… and after a few weeks of following through the appropriate chanels… I landed an interview with the head nurse… who then offered me a job in the Oncology Clinic. YAY!! I would be trained in chemotherapy administration and also would take a basic oncology course to gain a greater understanding of oncology nursing.

Fortunately, between my Palliative ICU background and my Radiation Clinic experience from Canada… Oncology nursing isn’t completely new for me so I’ll have a bit of a leg to stand on… I hope!!

Anyways. Today is my last day in Radiation Clinic. I’ve loved getting to know a lot of the staff there and building relationships with them and some of the patients… However… it is time already … to move onto what I came out here to do…

Masalama Radiation Clinic… I’ll just be a couple floors above you now 😀

Nerd Alert: Can’t wait to start learning heaps of new things again!! I seriously love cancer care… it’s fascinating!! I could talk about it for ages… but I won’t bore you with my jabber of that at the moment.

So… enjoy this video… love the app… it had myself and my coworker Vivian, from back home, laughing hysterically for ages at work!! Stress relief!!



Typical Girls Nights Out…

September 24, 2014


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…


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!!


(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…


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…


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


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

So Masalama for now

Cloud 9

August 19, 2014

Week 2… Is it possible I’ve found cloud 9? I didn’t think I would find it in Saudi Arabia… but if feels pretty close right now to what I imagine Cloud 9 feels like!!

I know I’m in the honeymoon phase of Saudi life right now… as everyone keeps reminding me that it will pass… But I have no intention of moving out of the honeymoon phase or of losing my positive and optimistic perspective anytime soon!!! Life is what you make of it… The opportunities you seize… The mood you chose to be in… The way you chose to interact with others…

So… I’ve now finished General Hospital Orientation, General Nursing Orientation, and start Oncology Department skills days soon! Moving along… Getting antsy to actually start working and find out what it’s all about! But I’m enjoying the hours we “work” right now and all the free time in the evenings… And especially the time to hang out and get to know the girls from my orientation group. We’re definitely going to be each other’s closest friends and supports trough the next year or few!!! Friends who GNO together stay together right?!

In celebration of finishing orientations and starting skills days, my friend Sarah (another Canadian YAY from Montreal) and I went to check out Panorama… A mall close to the hospital. And it was here that we completely unintentionally, discovered the lovely brilliant delicious little bits of cloud 9 called macaroons from Lauduree!!!

Sarah was thrilled to find a little macaroon shop here from the famous Paris/French macaroon shop! And I was just excited to try macaroons for the first time.


And oh. My. They. Are. Absolutely. Divine!!!! The orange blossom… Or the rose petal… Or the pistachio… I don’t even know how to pick a favourite!

We finished up the evening with coffee and chocolate cake at the beautiful Versus by Versace Caffee… Red carpets… Fabulous coffee… Mmmm so good! This country definitely knows how to make you feel like a princess!! And… I can understand why everyone talks about the Saudi 10… the 10 lbs you gain on arrival here… we do so much eating out!!! And there are just way too many delicious desserts everywhere!! :S


So… If this is how cloud 9 feels… I definitely never want to leave!!! Can’t wait to see what the next 51 weeks of our first year in Saudi will bring!!! All sorts of wonderful things I’m sure!!!

Feeling happy happy happy!!!!


And that’s all for now… Ma’a Salaama



Abaya shopping in the souqs of Dirah

August 16, 2014

Saturday morning… the weekend is nearly over, and I’m up early to take a bus to Dirah (also spelled Deera, Deira), an old area of Riyadh home to souqs or marketplaces filled with shops of all types but especially abaya shops and a gold souq. Today I am going shopping for abayas with the girls from my GNO group!

I’m so grateful to do this… I only brought one abaya along and so I really need more! Considering it’s what I’ll generally be wearing when I’m not wearing hospital scrubs, I might as well invest in a few abayas!

We took the bus to an older downtown area of Riyadh, where we drove past crumbling cement buildings, so decrepit it was shocking that they still looked like they were inhabited! The streets were so dusty and littered with garbage! Although, that’s not surprising because most of Riyadh is quite dirty like that.

We excited the bus into the blazing hot sun, quickly moving into the souqs to try find shade. Fortunately, the majority of the shops had decent air conditioning so in our un-acclimatized state we didn’t melt completely!

We found many shops, filled with abayas. Most were black. But there were some beautiful colored ones too! Many of them were so intricate and detailed with beadwork, lace, and various other embellishments.  I’ve quickly learned that an abaya doesn’t have to be plain black and hot and boring. It can have beautiful designs… simple or fancy and completely extravagant… it can be cheap or it can be haute couture! But figure flattering it is NOT! Which is absolutely the point of the abaya!

I found a long enough (YAY!!!!) abaya that snaps down the middle (so convenient vs the one I brought from home that is miles of fabric I have to constantly pull over my head… not convenient when you’re going somewhere where you can actually take your abaya off) with beautiful beadwork in gold and blue and yellow and silver. Super pretty! And super cheap!! It was less Saudi Riyals than my first abaya was Canadian dollars! About 150 SAR which equals less than $50 USD! Not too shabby at all!


There were also so many scarf shops! With a plain black abaya, a brilliantly colored scarf with beautiful patterns is really so nice! So I picked up a couple scarves too for less than $10USD!

And 5 Riyal shops… the Saudi equivalent to a dollar store! Full of cheap stuff. But plenty of good stuff too! And considering we haven’t had our first paycheck yet… I’m quite ok with cheap stuff! 😀

And then… dum dum dum… we found the gold souqs!!!! Could have spent days in there just window shopping! So much beautiful jewellery… so many beautiful stones… One day!! Gold prices are incredibly low in Saudi Arabia… the entire Middle East in general actually in comparison with Canada and all of North America. So it’s understandable how many women walk around with so much beautiful gold jewellery. And hopefully, when my time is up here, I’ll leave Saudi Arabia with some bling too!


I’ll definitely be coming back here for another abaya… and some jewels!! Girl’s gotta have bling!!