Three months ago I was moving to KAUST, following my husband who is pursuing his doctoral degree here.
FYI, KAUST is a research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, around 100 km from Jeddah.
I’ve never imagined that one day I will have to live in this country, with all of their strict rules. Long before my departure, my mother already advised me this and that; take care of yourself, don’t go anywhere alone, don’t take a taxi by yourself, use sunblock, etc etc etc. Well, her anxiety is understandable, tho. :))
In Saudi Arabia, there are several compounds which have quite different rules with the local norms. And KAUST is one of them. Here in KAUST, people can dress up more freely (but still appropriate) and women are allowed to go anywhere within campus by themselves.
Turns out, living in KAUST is very different from what I’ve imagined, in a positive way. Yeayyy! :D
One of the best thing of KAUST is that they support the relocation of their faculty and staff members (and families) very well and smooth. They helped to book our travel, and then on the appointed date of our arrival to Saudi Arabia, one of KAUST team greet us in the arrival gate and assist us through the immigration and customs, which is great. More than that, one driver were already assigned to pick us up at the airport and take us to KAUST. :’)
HOUSING AND FACILITIES
People in KAUST can enjoy a unique and multi-cultural living experience with great housing and amenities. We got an apartment for married couple with no child. Apartment building that we are living in consists of 12 units, each of them is two stories. The unit is fully-furnished, completed with electricity, water and high-speed internet. The space also big enough for two of us.
Besides the apartment, there are another variety of housing offered in KAUST: townhouses and villas. All of them designed in modern Arabesque style, and all of them are look-alike. Hahaha
The facilities in this neighborhood are great. We have access to medical clinic, supermarket, gym, golf course, water activity in the Red Sea (yes, we live alongside the Red Sea), cinema, day care, school and restaurant. Well, there are not many choices of restaurant here which makes me really missed my time in Jakarta where I can find any type of food with reasonable price. :”(
Besides restaurant we also have campus diner which I visit when I am not likely to cook a.k.a. almost every day. :))
There are many variety of food in the diner; local food, pasta, pizza, noodle, various desserts anddd nasi goreng with chicken satay! The taste of nasi goreng is so-so (I think I should recommend bumbu kokita to the chef, hahaha), but the chicken satay is great! I wonder why they not serve chicken satay separately, I will definitely order it.
FYI, most ordered item at Campus Diner for me is the value meal. Value meal = carb + veggie + 2 main course + salad + soup + dessert + mineral water = 23 SR, enough to be shared with my husband, hahaha.
Back in Indonesia, I really love to spend my spare time watching new movies at the cinema. For me, watching movie together is refreshing, and watching movie alone is my kind of me-time. So, actually there is one KAUST facilities that I really grateful for, CINEMA! Since there is no movie theater in Saudi Arabia, having one in this compound is a bliss.
Campus offers shuttle bus to commute within the university and residential area. But after I bought a bike, I prefer to use my bike to go around campus since riding a bike around campus is very safe and comfortable (yeah, despite the heat in the midday, of course). This place is very bike-able, me love it!
Buses are also available for off-campus trip. Those buses go to several malls in Jeddah and also to Mecca and Medina. This off-campus bus is very helpful since we don’t have a car and not planning to have one in the near future. After all, it seems that driving outside campus is not comfortable; traffic jam and reckless drivers.
It is said that around 6000 people from 100 countries are living here, which makes living in this compound is such a multi-cultural experience. What I love about the community is how everyone really kind and helpful toward each other. It’s like everybody have a good intention to make this small community even better. This good feeling is also felt inside the Indonesian community at KAUST, a small community consists of around 15 Indonesian families. :)
A utopia (/juːˈtoʊpiə/ yoo-TOH-pee-ə) is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities.
I feel that living in KAUST is like utopia. Everything is nearly perfect and in place. Things are too good to be true. Sometimes, I think: how to live in the real world again someday, can I accept all the imperfections? Hahahaha :))