Terri Lundberg: Why I Live In Ras Tanura
Terri Lundberg is an American expat living in Saudi Arabia. A travel addict and photographer, she talks about her current life as a trailing spouse in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia.
I’m sure you’ve never heard this before: where are you from?
Originally, I’m from San Diego, CA. I’m so proud to say I’m a native. 🙂 However, I haven’t lived in San Diego since 2000. Prior to moving to Saudi Arabia 2.5 years ago, I lived in Seattle, WA, which I love so much, I consider it my adopted hometown.
And what did you do there then?
I’ve done so many things. But, the job I quit when I moved to Saudi Arabia was as a Staff Analyst for the Boeing Company.
How did you end up in Ras Tanura?
Basically, my husband dragged me here. I like to tell people that I was dragged here kicking and screaming. That’s not entirely true. I had mixed feelings about coming to Saudi Arabia; I was excited about a new adventure, yet worried as to how I would do in such an oppressive environment.
Have you lived abroad before?
Yes. 1999 – 2000 I lived in Stockholm, Sweden. It seems like I keep moving to places that start with “S.”
So what’s so good about Ras Tanura?
It’s on the beach. See, the thing is, I don’t have much good to say about the place, but my life is good, so I won’t dump on the place. But, I can say with almost certainty, that when I leave, I won’t come back. I said, “won’t” because you should never say never. LOL. We’re here because of the great expat premiums and the tax free income. When our time is done, we’re on to the next place, where ever that may be.
And what don’t you like?
I’m on a western compound and it’s small. You’re one degree at all times from some you know, or someone who knows you but you don’t know them. I miss the feeling of anonymity that living in a big city provides.
Do you feel like an insider or outsider?
Most of the time I feel like an outsider. Within the Saudi culture, I’m definitely an outsider (even though I have Saudi friends). The expat community here is a tight knit situation. Again, everyone knows everyone. If you don’t know someone, someone you know does, so in that sense, I’m an insider. But, even within the expat community, I kinda feel like an outsider.
How do you support yourself?
I take this to mean financial support in which case, I don’t. LOL. I’m a trailing spouse, so I guess that means my husband supports me. Which really was the hardest thing I had to adjust to.
Any advice for wannabe Ras Tanurans
The biggest advice I can give to anyone moving to Saudi Arabia as an expat, is “don’t try to fight it.” You will witness things that do not make common sense regardless of where you come from. For example, it’s against the law for unrelated men and women to interact. Yet, the only people you will find working in lingerie shops are men. The next thing is to make friends with people you have something in common with. They will be your new support system.
Finally, tell us about something typically Ras Tanura (or Saudi Arabian)
The ubiquitous Shwarma guy is at every house party. Recently on an extended visit in the States, I actually found myself wanting a Shwarma (Middle Eastern version of Gyro, typically made with Chicken).
Terri Lundberg writes and shoots video about travel at Black Chick on Tour.
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This piece was first published in an older version of our blog