Friday, June 26, 2009

My Arabian adventure: first report

June 26, 2009

Getting the job teaching English in Riyadh was easy enough -- I'm qualified, have no specific ties here other than a mortgage, love to travel, have no particular religious prejudices and I already live in 110-degree heat.

Getting the visa completed is a nightmare though.

Here's where I stand at the moment:

1. Passport - renewed and ready to go (it was set to expire in June so I needed it anyway). Cost: about $25 (need to check this)

2. Travel arrangements - my flight is booked (though I won't get the actual ticket until the visa is approved. Cost: free

3. Police report - in progress. Just took a trip to the Phoenix municipal office, fingerprinting, a small fee and they'll mail it to me in about a week (the city even pays for postage, though their published requirements say to bring a stamped, self-addressed envelope). Cost: $28

4. Medical report - incredibly expensive! I'm currently figuring it will come to more than $800 with all the lab tests, including a couple that neither my doctor's office or the lab recognize. The actual physical part is pretty easy though.

5. Immunizations - I'm holding off a bit. Technically no immunizations are required by S.A., but the US recommends Hep and Tet. This is going to be another $300 if I just get the minimum shots.

6. University degree authentication - another paperwork nightmare. It's not enough to just send authorized transcripts from Gannon University (M.A.) and University of Dayton (B.A.). No, they need:

  • my name and SS #
  • name of employer
  • name of "courier agent" (whatever that means)
  • letter stating reason for requiring authorization
  • copy of employment contract
  • copy of passport
  • certified copy of university degree (whatever that means)
  • updated official transcript in a sealed envelope (how is that different from the "degree"?)
  • name of university and telephone # of the registrar (wouldn't that be on the official transcript?)
  • verification letter from the registrar's office including SS#, school ID and telephone # of contact person in registrar's office
  • written consent to allow the Saudi Cultural Mission to verify the degrees

Other matters:

7. House - I'll need to start posting ads and spreading the word very soon to rent my house for a year. I've only told my plans to a very few people since a whole lot of things could happen to foil the adventure and I don't want to set up a lot of expectations and/or gnashing of teeth (or worse, choruses of hallelujahs).

8. Packing - nada

9. Laptop - acquired a new, working unit just for this. I figured it's a good investment anyway. Cost: $400

10. Skype - could be my smartest investment (free)...though I did shell out $20 for a microphone/headphone and $25 for a webcam (though it turns out my laptop comes equipped with webcam. Skype has already proved invaluable for getting in touch with my sister in Kentucky, my neice in Afghanistan, a friend living in Cairo, and my sponsor in Riyadh. Since the IPA e-mail system doesn't seem to work very well with AOL, we've used a bunch of workarounds like Skype and my Arizona State University e-mail to stay in touch. Cost: Skype is free, other items, about $50



  1. Hey. No probs for the idea, you gotta start somewhere :).

    I feel like I've been haemorraghing money this past week also. Money for the notary public, money for Dept. Foreign Affairs, fares to travel into the city and soon money for flights to the KSA embassy. What helps me relax is knowing that soon I'll be making it all back and more. Still, it hurts the pocket right now when I'm wanting to buy a laptop and such.

    For me, I'm all done with the paperwork. Thank goodness. Now just waiting for an appointment with the Cultural Attache to sign my contract. Its been a stressful 3 weeks tho! Good luck.


  2. Actually, that's kind of encouraging, Stacy. It's not like it's costing thousands of dollars, but there are all sorts of monetary issues that keep popping up.

  3. Hi

    What is a updated official transcript in a sealed envelope ?