Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saudi Arabia?? Seriously?

Yes, that is in fact correct.  I am moving to Saudi Arabia.

Why?  I've been given a crazy awesome opportunity to work with a wealthy Saudi family, one member in particular being an adorable child who needs a little help from a speech language pathologist.  

I can't go into details in that realm of things due to confidentiality agreements.  What I can tell you is that I received an e-mail from the national association for S-LPs with a job posting for a position in Saudi Arabia approximately two months ago.  I thought about submitting a resume for the position off and on until the deadline passed.  At that time I happened to meet a friend of a friend who was familiar with Saudi Arabia and who managed to convince me that it's too good of an opportunity to not at least try for (thanks, Yaseen!).  So, I submitted my resume four days late thinking that nothing would come of it and I would continue to enjoy my lovely and fun-filled life in BC.  

The universe had other plans for me.  About 2 weeks after submitting my resume I received an e-mail telling me that I was one of 8 successful applicants for the job and asking if I could interview for it the next day.  Here's how my schedule went from then on:
Monday, Nov 26: E-mail requesting interview #1 received
Tuesday, Nov 27: First interview
Tuesday, 2 hours later: E-mail saying I was one of four successful applicants to make the cut and would I be interested in a second interview.
Thursday, Nov 29: Second interview with the CEO of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, (intimidated, yes...the interview on the other hand was super casual, with Dr. P asking me things such as, "So, what does your mother think of all this?"  I instantly loved him.).
Saturday, Dec 1: E-mail saying that Dr. P was recommending me as well as one other applicant to the family for a third interview.
Monday, Dec 3: E-mail asking me to interview the next day with who I thought was going to be the family's  physician.
Tuesday, Dec 4:  Interview with Dr. F who turned out to not be the family's physician after all.  Instead, she was a super experienced S-LP and educational consultant with a Ph.D and a seriously extensive CV.  Let's just say that I was definitely kicking my ass that I didn't do at least a Google search before I had this interview....bad, bad Bonnie for not doing her research!  This was the time to be intimidated.
Friday, Dec 7:  Asked to fly to Boston to meet Dr. F and the family for a final interview/meeting.
Saturday, Dec 8:  Off to Boston via the red-eye.  FYI, always take a pillow with you when flying on a red-eye.  No sleep was had for the 9.5 hour trip.
Sunday, Dec 9: Arrive at the amazing 5-star Hotel that the family was staying at and at which I was to stay, courtesy of the family.  Attempt to sleep in preparation for my initial meeting with Dr. F.  Minimal success.  Then a phone call comes from Dr. F indicating that, not only am I meeting with her, but I am also meeting the matriarch of the family.  You'd think that I would've been intimidated by this.  Maybe it was a good thing that I was exhausted because I really don't think the strong matriarch factor registered.  Once at the meeting I quickly realized that this was going to have little resemblance to an interview, and instead was a meeting to talk about what the family wanted from me when it came to working with their son/grandson.  Somehow in this discussion, amongst my slow-moving-oh-so-tired mind, it dawned on me that I had already gotten the job.  Didn't have much time to think about that, though, because I was soon introduced to the little boy's parents and then taken up to their room to meet the little boy himself.  P.S. He's ADORABLE!
Monday, Dec 10:  Get my only real glimpse of Boston during a run through the city, past the Boston Public Library, multiple gorgeous churches, Cheers, and a ridiculous number of statues depicting famous American historical figures, through the botanical garden, and along the Charles River.  Back in the best hotel I've ever experienced I meet Dr. F for breakfast and quickly realize that she is indeed a kindred spirit.  She will be my programming supervisor and I become well aware of the fact that she will not only support me through my work with the little boy, but she will also be my life-boat when it comes to moving to Riyadh and becoming acclimatized to Saudi culture.  I love her.  Dr. F and I get down to business talking about my contract for a couple of hours; she heads off to talk to the family about contract details; I go to my room to have lunch; lunch is delivered; I get about four spoonfuls of amazing tomato soup in my belly and two sips of the most delicious latte I've ever tasted then a phone call comes to meet Dr. F and the little boy's aunt to discuss the contract further.  For the next 5 hours we finalize my contract, determine Visa requirements, e-mail an official letter from the family to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Ottawa, receive my travel reimbursement from the family in the form of way too much cash to be sensibly carried on my person, talk with the man who will be my God-send of a liason with everything related to the family and Saudi culture, go to Barnes & Noble with the little boy and his loving entourage to buy him a small mountain of books, play with the little boy in his room and come to realize that he is going to be a complete blast to work with, continue discussion on my contract, confirm that I will be leaving on January 15th, make a to-do list that includes creating a list of any and all items to be ordered for the little boy's therapy room, and finally get back to my room to finish my now cold (yet still delicious) soup and my wilted salad.  I will definitely be working for my money!  Oh, and if you're wondering how much money they'll be paying me...let's just say it's enough.  Considering the money and then adding to it the places I will travel to with the family (all expenses covered), the fantastic opportunities to learn amazing things from Dr. F, and the experience of living in a country that the majority of people in the world aren't even allowed to enter, I can confidently say this this is THE opportunity of a lifetime. 
Tuesday, Dec 11: Sit in the Boston airport and write a summary blog post that doesn't even come close to explaining the crazy whirlwind of experiences that I've had in almost exactly two weeks.  And, also stop myself from breaking down in tears because I am absolutely amazed at how lucky and blessed I am to have been given this gift of a life that just keeps getting better and better and better.

I plan on keeping up with blogging about my experience in Saudi Arabia.  I promise to be more reflective and articulate in the rest of the blogs, which will be written in a more rested mental state (I hope).  And I'll also think of a better name for this blog...creativity is not at the forefront of my brain capacities at this particular time (I've since renamed this blog from "I'm What?!!" to it's current name, taken from the lyrics of Jason Mraz's song, "Make It Mine").  If you'd like to continue to hear about what I'm up to go ahead and sign up to follow this blog or send me your e-mail address at gavalanche@hotmail.com and I'll put you on my mailing list that I'm setting up for keeping everyone updated.

Also, I'm going to be missing my BC lifestyle in ridiculous amounts and will want constant reminders of the awesomeness that is the province I now call home.  So, if you know of any fantastic books about BC that can allow me to escape back home for those times when I'm feeling especially homesick, please let me know what they are so I can make regular orders with Amazon to purchase.

While I'm at this, does anyone want or know of someone who would want to open up their home to two fantastic cats for a year?  My darling Jared and Chai will be in need of a home and I'm getting desperate to find one for them.  Even if two of you are willing to take in one of them each, I'd be okay with separating them.  AND, while I'm in asking-for-help-mode, I'm going to have VERY little time to get packed and ready to go (I'm spending 10 days in Ottawa for Christmas with my dearest friend, Malgosia) so, essentially, I only have 3 weeks to get everything done.  HELP!!

Thank you to everyone who played a part in supporting me through the process of getting this job.  You are the ones who kept me living in reality during this surreal experience.

In Joy,


  1. Amazing! Amazing, amazing, amazing! And congratulations!!! Bon, you are such an incredible person with truly incredible adventures. Way to open those doors!

  2. Awesome! I want to read all your updates. And I should get a cut of your salary lol!!!

    Have all the fun you can. Enjoy your new world!

  3. That is so fantastic Bonnie! Paul and I are soooo happy for you, you are truly a student of life. Keep us posted.


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