Continued Observations of a 1st time Saudi to the USA

It is a real pleasure to see my country through the eyes of someone who has never been to the United States. We continue to have a family member with us during our short time back in the USA who had never been to the States before. His impressions began from our arrival at the airport when he observed customers being picked up by a female limo driver. Not only was this woman driving an oversize passenger van but she was also assisting in loading everyone’s luggage into the vehicle. My relative turned to me with a look of such surprise asking if it was legal what she was doing! I assured him it certainly was. He continued to watch with keen interest as she eventually got behind the wheel and drove off with her passengers.

Well the next surprise in store was him being driven by a woman – me! My husband even chose to sit in the back seat so he could sit up front and get the best view. He acknowledged that he never thought in his life he’d be driven by a female. I hope that my driving did not frighten him and perhaps he now has a better impression of women and driving!

Other observations he shared with me was the distinction in the grocery stores. First, he noticed that the shopping malls in the States did not have a major supermarket at one end or the other of the mall but instead were located independently by themselves. I told him I was not aware of any major shopping malls in the US which also had a grocery store within the mall like Saudi Arabia. He also noticed that while the grocery stores in Saudi Arabia do offer quality products and choices, the number of choices in the grocery stores in the States were more plentiful, particularly when it came to salad dressings for example. And of course he was surprised to find several aisles of the grocery store dedicated to selections of beer and wine. I explained to him though that not everyone could just come into a grocery store and buy beer or wine. All purchases required proof of identification to ensure that one had met the legal drinking age.

Another fascination was with the railroad tracks and trains. For those not aware, Saudi Arabia at present only has a minimal railway system with train service running between Riyadh and Damman. Therefore to see multiple railway crossings as well as passenger trains and freight trains was a new experience. He was also quite surprised by the number of cars and how much time passed waiting at a railway crossing for the train to pass.

Last but not least what he shared he was enjoying the most and appreciating was the openness and friendliness of the American people. He better understands why Americans are more laid back and relaxed also noting that he felt much more relaxed and “free” in America. He thoroughly enjoyed how the majority of Americans spontaneously say “hello” and engage in chit-chat whether in an elevator or in line at a store. He also overcame his own shyness to now say ‘hi’ first and is confident that therecipient will respond positively in turn.

I will likely be sharing more observations and experiences. I am pleased that my family member is having a positive and enjoyable experience while he is in the United States.


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