Sitting around and waiting. Waiting and waiting more. This journey to getting a nursing job in Saudi Arabia is taking a lot longer than I expected, and now even longer due to COVID19. I feel like I am waiting in between two worlds. I am in an intermediate state between the United States and the Middle East. I am transitional between my current job and the new job. I am floating midway to starting my new life and adventures in Jeddah.
My agency contacted me to say they have tried to follow up about my medical clearance. The majority of the staff in the employment department of the hospital are working from home, so it might take some time to receive a response. I asked the other day about my physical and if I would need to repeat it. Originally, I was told I had to obtain my physical within three months of applying for the visa. What if this lockdown goes on longer? Will my physical or other forms expire? My agency is also inquiring about submitting my visa application sooner rather than later (once the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. reopens.) I have 90 days to travel once my work visa has been approved.
I have been busy though during this time. I still work three 12-hour shifts a week. Work has been busy but my unit is not as crazy busy as the rest of the hospital. In the adult ICUs, nurses are caring for four to five patients each. We had to create more ICU rooms and turned the pediatric unit into an adult medical-surgical floor. I really feel sorry for the respiratory therapists. A few of them have caught the virus are are out sick. I am hoping that this area has peaked and we will start to see a decrease in the amount of hospitalized patients soon. The rest of the country still might get increased patient loads and hopefully they will be ready. I am also worried about the economical impact this will have on the world.
On my days off, I have been staying home as much as possible. Yesterday I went to the grocery store for the first time in two weeks and I think I am stocked up for another two weeks. It was frustrating to see other customers wearing N95 masks when a lot of healthcare workers do not have enough to care for COVID19 positive patients. And to make it worse, some were not wearing the masks properly. One guy had it on his chin and not covering his nose. I wanted to ask him if he had a stash of masks he could donate to people that are fit-tested for them.
I have packed and repacked my bags for moving to Jeddah. I bought a new, very large suitcase about a month ago. It was my first real suitcase. I have always traveled with duffel bags or backpacks. It was my travel style. But this suitcase is super big and can fit a lot for my life overseas for a year. I also have a suitcase for my diving gear, even though I still don’t have a lot of dive gear. I do not have my own regulator nor BCD yet. I hope to buy them in Jeddah. That bag is also filled with summer clothes that I have been told I can wear at the compounds and expat beaches, and when I travel outside of the KSA. There is a third bag I will be checking (my first time ever that I will be paying for extra baggage.) This third bag is my backpacking rucksack, which included hiking and camping gear. I have a 2 person backpacking tent, self-inflating mattress and lightweight-sleeping bag for any camping adventures I might find! Then there is a smaller carry-on suitcase that I need to pack.
I am still undecided about bringing some books. I packed a few neonatal nursing books in case I stay there longer and need to renew my NICU certification. I am packing a book for learning Arabic. I plan to bring a few books for learning French, but not sure how many I want to bring. One should be good enough. And I have some books for learning photography. Maybe I can take this time in limbo to read some of them to avoid packing them.
I have been trying to find motivation to exercise. I have a yoga mat laid out in front of the TV. I have done a few exercises while binging TV shows on Amazon Prime. I have done a few arms exercises now and then. I definitely less active than I was before the virus hit the USA. I was going to the gym at least four times a week before, plus hot yoga. I now barely work out once a week.
Most of my off time has been practicing French, Spanish, and Arabic on Duolingo. I have been very competitive on the app, competing against strangers from around the world. I came in first place for the obsidian league and made it to the diamond league. At first I was trying to stay in number one place there but I could not keep up with the other players. They must not have jobs nor sleep. But I think I need to disable the leader boards to focus on actually learning the languages instead of the competition.
I have been trying to find time to read. And cook. I have been continuing to make low-sugar meals to freeze and take to work for lunch. I have been enjoying cauliflower pizza. Doubt I can get that in Jeddah. I am working on making a scrapbook for my mom of a trip we took together three years ago. I was going to make more scrapbooks for myself but I am discovering I do not really like scrapbooking. I am also turning an old purse into a pillow by cutting up old socks to turn into the stuffing. That is tedious work I usually do while watching a movie.
Also, since my landladies have allowed me to continue staying here and most of my things are cleared out, I am gonna prepare the apartment for a new tenant. I have been applying Spackle to the holes and I will paint the walls before I move out. The Spackling part is enjoyable. I slap some on the walls over some holes and then smooth it into the wall. If you don’t know what Spackle is, it is a brand of quick-drying, plaster-like material for patching plaster-work. I have a lot of holes all over the apartment because I had my home decorated with a lot of art from my travels or frames of my own photographs. It is very bare in here without them.
So that has been my life this past month and will continue to be my life until I get my visa and Saudi Arabia allows flights to arrive again. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. How are you spending your time during the COVID19 crisis?