My husband and I haven’t had the greatest luck with weather on vacations. This trip to the United States is no exception. If you’ve been watching the news, you might have seen the record breaking cold weather in “Frozen America”. The Great American Popsicle might sound like a bunch of whining, but trust me it’s cold. I am actually writing in my parent’s living room…while wearing a ski jacket.

Upon landing in Washington D.C, I attributed my newfound cold intolerance to Saudi’s weather. Of course the icy breeze was a shock – it had been 70 F (21 C) when I left Saudi. The idea that I could have acclimated to anything in Saudi got me thinking about perspective.

These last couple of weeks have been brutal – I don’t ever remember it being this cold when I lived here. However, my father remembers a time in which the Susquehanna River would freeze thick and solid enough to ice skate across it. It’s funny how one person’s Arctic blast is another person’s slight chill.

I think the same logic could be applied to my time in the Kingdom. When I first arrived, the cultural climate shocked my system. I could have never imagined getting ‘used to’ a place so ‘strange’. Over the years, the Arctic blast of cultural shock has been reduced to a slight chill. Despite my struggles, I’ve outstayed many – carving out a life that served me.

Who knew I would get used to anything within the country– let alone the oppressive heat? Ten years ago I would have went out in a blizzard wearing a t-shirt. Now I’m wearing a ski jacket inside to avoid shivering. Did I really think I could live in a country for the better part of a decade and remain unchanged? I’m now certain that my days in the desert have etched growth I can’t yet see.

Being an expatriate shapes you in ways you can never predict or control. I am no longer the girl that left home six years ago. And I am grateful. Saudi Arabia has never truly felt like home, and I don’t think it ever will – but my gained perspective was worth the trip.