BELLSPIRATION CLUB – IVANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ: A lot has changed in Saudi Arabia in the last 5 years since I’ve been here (Part 3/4)

1) Ivana, you are currently in Saudi Arabia. Could you please tell us more about your life in Saudi Arabia, comparing it to our, Balkan life?

A lot has changed in Saudi Arabia in the last 5 years since I’ve been here. From one very closed country to a country that has opened doors to tourists and new things.  Things that we are watching on TV and that we hear of are not true at all. Honestly, when I left, I was afraid exactly because of how the UAE was represented in the media. I expected that I needed to give up a lot of things. But when I came, I saw that media and news articles were just an empty story. I’ve met gorgeous people with big hearts who love their culture and tradition. In today’s time when all of us are losing our culture and tradition, they succeeded to save theirs … Their culture, amenities, food, everything is mystical. Abaye clothes that Saudi Arabian women are wearing is something most comfortable that I have ever worn and that I’m wearing. And it’s easiest to get ready in Abaye, you can wear pajamas underneath and then you get abaya and you are tip-top. 🙂 And how beautiful fabrics, materials, models, ornaments they have I think that every woman would wish one. One thing that is a plus also is security. It’s rare for somebody to lock the door. I know when I go out on the streets I don’t need to worry if somebody is going to attack me or rob me. The country is really well organized. Education is free for every Saudi Arabian person. Health insurance and good doctors …The biggest malls that I have ever seen. So many gorgeous and mystical deserts, beaches on which the Maldives would be jealous, beautiful mountains. One thing that I like the most is how much they respect a mother figure in their culture and how mothers are the most important family members. ♡

2) Was it ever difficult for you to get used to that new lifestyle? What impressed you most when you first came to Saudi Arabia?

In the beginning, it was hard for me, honestly, but with time everything comes into place. You just start to be aware that you are growing up and that the world isn’t what you have thought about and what kind of borders you have set up for yourself. You see how small you were and how there are more stars than you can count. You grow and broaden your horizons. You see sometimes you have to leave parts of yourself to receive something new. And that’s okay, because growth is never easy. But when you realize that when you grow up and see the world with other eyes, you realize that this world is full of colorfulness and colors. And when you get twice as much today, you have to indulge in life. When they throw stones at you, it is up to you whether you want to build a fortress or a bridge. I am always for the bridge. Build a bridge and let your fears pass, not a fortress that will close you with everything that bothers you. I believe that everything agrees the way it should and that fear and every emotion should be felt, understood that it is there and experienced and then let go …

3) Can you share with us tips for all those who plan to venture into the unknown, away from home, how to deal with nostalgia and what kind of mindset we need to have to enjoy this experience of living in foreign countries?

The road to the unknown is the best adventure because you never know where the road will take you, and that is up to you. You need to know how to appreciate everything and see that it is a blessing, and when you look at it that way, everything becomes easier. There is always nostalgia and it can be difficult, especially when you have a bad day, you want to be home to see a familiar face and to have someone, even if that person is silent all the time, but only to be with you. That is the case especially at the beginning. You question yourself and whether it was the right decision. When you are far away you always question yourself. When you come home and see new wrinkles on dear people and gray hair and then those questions bother you. Nostalgia has taught me that it is easy to fight others and the hardest is to fight yourself. But as time goes on you learn to trust yourself and your decisions and you know that you always have roots where you can go back and where a warm home. In essence, believing in yourself gives you the strength to survive nostalgia … Trust me, it gets better, and you realize that you are exactly where you need to be and that your life is going exactly the way you want because you chose it even when you are scared and in the end, it will always be good and if it is not good then it is not the end …