This is a guest post by Kailey Sniffen. You can read more of her travel posts at Thoughts with Kai.
Everyone has a story. A background. A place they call home with the people and traditions they love. And when people move to a new country they bring their culture and traditions with them. That is Bahrain: a melting pot of different cultures, languages and accents. And the best part is that most people, if you ask with just a touch of kindness and respect, love to tell you anything and everything about where they are from. Here are a few things I’ve learned from living in this environment. 🙂
1. Just try the food; even if you’re the pickiest person on earth. Middle Eastern food is beyond amazing. Especially the street food. It’s amazing what can come from a grubby little hole in the wall off of a chaotic street. Some of my favorite memories from Bahrain so far have been shared around a quick local meal. You are most definitely missing out if you don’t pay a visit to Sharwma Ally or a local farmers market. Do be warned though, weight gain becomes increasingly easy here. 😉
2. Be curious. Bahrain is expat central; and I love it. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would be learning Italian from a native Italian in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Nor did I ever think that I would hear about the chaos of Syria from someone who was there, or that I would tour a grand mosque. I have not only met people from other Middle Eastern countries, but also Europe, Africa, Australia, Japan, you name it! If it’s on a map that nationality is most likely here. Never be afraid to ask questions. More often than not people love to talk about their homeland.
3. Middle Eastern countries are all very different. Not only in landscape, but more noticeably in the way they follow Islam. Take Saudi Arabia for example, they are close neighbors with Bahrain but oh so different. In Saudi the rules of Islam, such as the hijab and abya, are much more enforced, whereas is Bahrain it is less strict. In some countries the Islamic dress is enforced by the government, while in others it is up to the individual and their relationship with Allah. Because of this and many other reasons, Bahrain is considered one of the more free and “western” of the Middle Eastern countries. As you can see, grouping all the Middle Eastern countries into one and saying they all believe the same thing really is not accurate, as each one has its own unique traits.
4. Embrace. Embrace it all. The good, the bad, the interesting. Embrace the fact that the grocery store has distinctly American dress, traditional Islamic attire and the traditional Indian Sahri all on the fruit and veggie aisle! Accept the fact that they drive so insane that one twenty minute car ride causes your knuckles to go white. But most importantly always remember that there is more to every place than what meets the eye. !
I hope this inspired you to go out and see the world. Life is too short to not go exploring.