Why did you
decide to work in Saudi Arabia?
When I went through the information about the hospitals here, I learned that they have different type of cases that we have in Finland. I wanted a possibility to do more kidney and liver transplants as they do them here a lot more often. So basically I wanted a new working experience and do something different than what I had been used to.
Can you tell something about the meet and greet?
It was good, actually. There was a separate queue for the people arriving for the first time so there was not much waiting. There was a person from the hospital waiting for me and they gave me the keys and dropped me off to my apartment. They also instructed me well about when and where I was supposed to be the next day. The following morning they came to pick me up. It was very well organized in my opinion.
How was your apartment?
It is good. I have everything I need and everything is working. In case something breaks, I can just call someone and they come and repair it quickly. I have to say I am comfortable with my apartment. The compound is about five to ten minute walk from the hospital. It is nice that I can walk to work.
What was the start like in the Hospital?
First we had a general orientation for three days which included everybody. We talked about the hospital, the rules, the culture and stuff like that. Then we were divided into our own departments for the GNO. That lasted two weeks. It was a busy period, as we had something to do all the time. I think it was very helpful though. We got our badges and uniforms.
How do you cope with your multicultural working environment?
Really well. I like my colleagues and we have some really good teamwork. The only issue in our work is that we sometimes might have some trouble with the language because we have a lot of nurses from the Philippines and they sometimes just use their own language. But other than that it is really good and we have good team spirit.
What are your experiences with Saudis?
We only have one Saudi nurse in our department at the moment. She is really helpful and we are very comfortable with each other. We have a lot of doctors from Saudi Arabia and I think they are good.
How do you spend your free time?
I like to go eating a lot with my friends. I also take swimming lessons and tennis lessons few times a week. There are also great places to go shopping. I use the gyms in the compound quite a bit as well. We are also having a trip to Jeddah soon, to see the city and all its places. There are lot of ways to spend your time here. You just have to find your type of people to do the things with! One can also travel during the holidays. I have been home twice and I am going to Kenya and Dubai in September
Which one of the shopping malls is your favorite?
My favorite is Hayat mall. The best thing about is that it has a fitting room for women. The other malls do not have them, so you might need to take the clothes back home to fit them and then take back if they are not the right size, so this is really nice to have. Hayat Mall also has good places to go eat and it is quite big so I like it a lot.
What kind of restaurants are there available in Riyadh?
They have all of them here. The malls are really American so they have many American fast food restaurants in them. There are also available a lot of Indian and Chinese restaurants because so many people come from those countries. The food is pretty cheap. Then there are fancy restaurants, mostly in hotels such as Ritch Carlton and Intercontinental that we visit for dinners and breakfasts. There are even few restaurants at the hospital where we can eat lunch for very cheap.
A lot of people go to Middle East to earn money? Is your salary better there than it was back home?
Yes. The salary is better and the best part is that it is tax free! The extra money allows me to pay off my mortgage, which is really good. I am also trying to save, and travel.
Are you happy you decided to go to Riyadh? Do you enjoy the place?
I am happy. I am happy because I wanted to come and experience and see the place. Of course if I did not come I would be thinking what it would have been like so I am glad I decided to come. In the beginning things can be bit hard, but after the orientations and learning all the different things and regulations, one can enjoy the place. The best thing about Saudi Arabia is the weather. I am used to living in Europe where it is cold and rainy so I love it here. I love waking up when it is already sunny and warm. Even the heat does not bother me because I do not need to be outside all the time.
What would you say to a nurse wondering whether or not to go to Saudi Arabia?
I would say you should apply. You should try it. Especially if you are young, you should see the world and it is easier to travel from this side of the world. Many people feel it is easy to travel from here because of the location and because then you have the money to travel. And shop. It is good to see the other side of life. It is totally worth it!