Life in Kuwait: Work and Social, Part I

By Zaynab Baalbaki — So, I have been in Kuwait for about 20 days now, and during that time I have been able to experience an entirely new environment.

Let me just give you an update on the temperature. The temperature here is ALWAYS in the three digit range. I think the highest so far was 120°F, which basically means “IT’S WAY TOO HOT!” However, keep in mind, no one really spends time outside. For example, the only time I’m outside is when I am walking to work in the morning – and it’s only a block. Everything is air conditioned. Both of my placements are actually freezing!

Here are some random quick little updates of my time and what I’m noticing while I’m here:

  • I went jet skiing last weekend in the gulf. It was really fun, but my eyes are in so much pain. Whenever the water got in my eyes it would sting…because it’s salt water.
  • This past weekend was an extended weekend because it was a holiday. It was the Prophet’s Ascension. Also, the weekend here is different than the States, in Kuwait it is Friday and Saturday.
  • A co-worker took me to experience a part of Kuwait known as the Fabric Souk, Fabric Market. Which is basically a huge mall full of fabrics. You can find any type of material or pattern there. As my co-worker said, “If you can’t find it here, they don’t make it!” They also had all the possible clothing accessories you could think of, from buttons, gems, ribbon, chains and more. There were stores that had either only white or black fabric to typically make either an abayah or distasha, traditional Kuwaiti clothes.
  • People that know me know I am a soccer (futbol) fanatic. Kuwait is also a soccer driven country. Currently there is the EURO 2012 occurring right now. Almost everyone watches the games. I have watched them all J! Usually, I watch them at a sheesha (hookah) place with friends. I have some friends in Kuwait that attended my undergraduate, so I often meet up with them.
  • Professionally speaking, getting used to Kuwaiti work has taken a bit of adjusting. The workplace is much more relaxed compared to the states. Also, I am working at a university, and it is the summer, so there are fewer students on campus. Furthermore, a lot of the staff and faculty will tend to go traveling during the summer.
    • Specifically looking at my placement in Career Services and Wellness Center (CSW), I am learning a great deal about the political and social rules in Kuwait relating to helping students and providing them with support. Overall, there is not a lot of external support for students who come to the CSW with pressing issues/concerns. Even the support and resources provided at CSW are limited. People in Kuwait do not talk about rape, depression, assault, sexuality. It is a taboo. Even coming to the CSW has stigma associated with it. There are students who lie to their parents and say they are going to the gym/hanging out with friends/movies and instead, come for counseling.
  • I was able to observe a classroom at the university. I wanted to learn more about the student academic life. Here segregation is legal and expected, gender segregation. At American University of Kuwait (AUK) there are male and female classes. There are mixed classes for more advanced classes that have less professors and students available to teach or take the class.

On Thursday I am supposed to observe a male class, which I have been repeatedly told will be very different, due to student motivation and engagement. I will let you know how that goes next time. Until then. Enjoy the summer!

2 Responses to “Life in Kuwait: Work and Social, Part I”

  1. 1 རིན་ཆེན་ རྡོ་རྗེ June 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Hi Zaynab,

    Read about your beginning experience in Kuwait and looks interesting. So, are you there to do some teaching or for some exchange program.


    • 2 zaynab June 27, 2012 at 1:14 am

      Hi Rinchen! I am in Kuwait doing a graduate internship in student affairs. Im working at American Univeristy of Kuwait (AUK). Since its student affairs, im not doing any teaching in a classroom. I’m teaching and supporting growth/development in other ways such as working in the Career Services and Wellness Center (CSW) and the Academic Advising Center (AAC). I hope all is wonderful with you!!


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