Stories with Soos: Interracial Marriage

I took a hiatus– sorry about that.

I want to start a series about different topics, so I asked ya’ll what you wanna hear about, and two people said interracial marriage. I might do a post someday about how my family and my husband’s family took our marriage, but that day is not today. Instead, I will tell stories regarding us… how we have adjusted merging our lives together between the USA, KSA, and even my short time in Turkey. So here’s a story about the first time I met my husband’s family in the United Arab Emirates in 2014.

In case you were wondering, it’s hot in the UAE in August. Yes, of course you know, but you don’t know until you walk out of the Dubai airport and the heat hits you like bricks. It’s hot.

I went to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in August of 2014 for the first time. I had just converted to Islam a few months before and completed my first Ramadan, so I decided to take a trip. I booked my flight 2 weeks before departure to meet my now husband’s family, and we honestly had a blast. For 10 days, we explored between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, going to Yas Water World, the Dubai Mall, going on a safari, and even going to Ferrari World! It’s not cheap to travel to Dubai in the middle of summer, but I worked all summer long at WalMart and saved every penny and booked the flight.

A preface to this story, is that showing the bottom of your foot to Arabs is very offensive. I knew this, again referencing my Arabic classes I had completed  two years of at this point in 2014Рbut I seemed to have forgotten when our story starts.

My Arabic was very limited at that time, but I knew quite a good amount of vocabulary from spending all of my free time with my Arab friends. I was desperate to become fluent in Arabic and later live in the GCC– so as I sat in our 5-star hotel room (AlRaha Beach Hotel in AD~ I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH; it’s the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in still to this day, in my life), I listened to my husband’s parents talking about various things, trying to follow.

It came to my father in law’s career in Saudi Airlines, and I do not even remember what we were discussing… other than I decided that instead of pointing to my husband’s father or gesturing to him, I would simply point my foot in his direction.

You can only imagine the shock on his face, my husband’s face, my mother in law’s face, everyone in the world’s faces… you would not imagine my embarrassment as I realized what I had just done. And I had no idea how to fix the situation because I was 20 years old and very dumb! So what did I do?

I ignored it of course.

And my husband later brought it up and years later, I apologized to my father in law who did not even recall the situation.

But, that’s the thing when you mix cultures, and especially in marriage. Alhamdulillah, I have a great relationship with my in-laws, but that doesn’t mean somethings don’t get lost in translation.

Let me know in the comments if anything embarrassing has happened to you in your interracial marriage! I would love to hear some stories!!

Converting to Islam

I converted (or reverted) to Islam in May of 2014. I had been studying about Islam for quite some time before I finally took the plunge, and took my shahada (the declaration of belief/a pillar of Islam).

I grew up post-9/11. In school, we learned a lot about what happened on September 11, 2001. I was in just 2nd grade at the time, living in a small town mostly comprised of white-America. I don’t remember seeing people of color until much later in my education, but also maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I want to also point out that my mother is British and my father is American. So growing up, I was always considered “different” just because my mom was from just outside of London. When I was in 2nd grade, and my mom took me from school to go visit our family in London, my teacher gave me a project to work on whilst abroad. One of the tasks: how to say different words in England. She had given me a list of words like kitchen, dog, and other simple words a second grader would be interested in. It seemed she forgot that in England, they speak English. Most of our words are the same.

Media really portrayed the Middle East as this dangerous, foreign, tribal land. Growing up I assumed that everywhere in that region was always fighting. It wasn’t until high school I started realizing the Middle East is actually quite normal.

When I was 13 years old, I knew only one Muslim girl in my town, and she didn’t go to my school. I remember in MySpace days being so interested in this religion because of what the media told us daily. I asked this girl a few questions, but she probably thought I was weird. My memory is blurry to this time, other than one thing that stands out: on my MySpace one day I wrote the word “Muslim.” I didn’t understand that to be Muslim you had to actually do stuff. Many people in America identify as Christian but know nothing about Christianity. I thought Islam was the same. I probably also at this time just wanted to be different. After all, one of my best friends was Jewish, and I just wanted to believe in something.

I never really identified myself as a Christian growing up. My mother did, and her husband did, but my father never talked about religion much. I think both of my parents and their spouses just saw being a good person as good enough. I always believed in a higher power, but thought of myself as more agnostic.

I decided in high school I was going to graduate and go to university to study Arabic. My goal was to graduate and be fluent, and then get a job in the CIA or some other federal agency. I applied specifically at this time to DePaul University, in Chicago, for their Arabic major program. DePaul was painfully expensive, and luckily I didn’t get myself into $100,000 worth of debt. Instead, I decided to study Arabic and International Studies at West Virginia University, where I would later find out had a huge population of Arabs from all over the Middle East, North Africans, and Persians as well. I met and mingled with anyone who would be my friend. I became incredibly lucky to meet all of these people, and most of them answered my questions without hesitation. I was so obsessed with the Middle East/North Africa, I just wanted to understand the people better, and to me at that time, I figured the best way was through religion. Plus I loved the Islam they showed me so I had to know more.

My first Arabic teacher was a woman from Saudi Arabia, who would invite us to the mosque for extra credit so we could meet Arabs and practice Arabic. I fell in love with that space, and spent much of my time reading, watching videos, and talking with Muslims and learning as much as I could about Islam. I will never forget the people who encouraged me and taught me so much information; especially the imam of Morgantown at the time Sohail, and the current imam, Kip (another revert who reverted maybe 1 or 2 years before I did).

The muslim community in Morgantown during my university years was a tough one. I took my shahada, and felt so much love and support. But as time went on, the community definitely became a bit difficult. But, that’s another story.

My love for Islam stemmed from me from the age of 13 until 20 when I finally got the courage to become Muslim. Alhamdullilah now I am the happiest I have ever been. I have done ummrah, done ummrah during Ramadan, fasted, prayed, and become a better person, inshallah, than I was before. Islam teaches us to show love and respect all people. Islam was and is the polar opposite of what the media told me growing up.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming Muslim or learning about Islam, I strongly encourage you to reach out to them. It is the responsibility of MSAs and Muslim communities to show support, even if the convert is doing something you do not agree with or understand. Most born Muslims will never know what that person is going through. I am saying this because this happened to me. Alhamdulillah my religion was and is strong and I did not leave. But I was also know that I was not doing things wrong alhamdulillah, and was judged by the community a great deal, and never once was advised privately about my actions. Sometimes I felt incredibly alone because I felt no one understood me or cared about me. But alhamdillah, now I know I became stronger because of this time.

*This story is shortened, if I’m honest, because it’s actually much tougher to write about than talk about. Some details have been left out to protect the identity and privacy of others involved in my story.

The One Where I Ended up in Turkey

Some back story

In July of 2017, I went on my annual trip with my husband’s family to Istanbul & Fethiye, Turkey. During this time I definitely was feeling lost and confused about my next move– at this point I had been graduated from university for a year, working part-time retail, with no clear direction of what would come next (this was during the waiting time for my iqama to be accepted by the Saudi government, but more on that later).

After my trip, I decided to ask around if anyone knew anyone living or working in Turkey. I knew my close friend from college knew a girl who had married a Turk, and to my knowledge she lived in Istanbul. I quickly got her number and contacted her about how I, too, could move there. I had been looking all over the internet for recent/updated blogs and Instagrams of people living in Turkey, especially Americans, and could find none. After returning my frantic WhatsApp message (this was the end of July so I doubted I would be able to get a job with such short amount of time until the school year began), I quickly got hold of a company working with native-English speakers, that would place foreigners in schools around Istanbul, for free. This company is called Calculus.


Calculus then informed me that in order to legally teach in Turkey, I needed a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. I had the bachelor’s, but not the certificate, so over the course of around two weeks I completed an online 120 hour TEFL course. I sent away my resume as I completed the course, and scored an interview. Unfortunately, that interview was then cancelled, so the man helping me, Emre, told me he would schedule two interviews with two schools. One was on the European side and one was on the Asian side. I completed both interviews, receiving offers from both schools, but later accepted the offer from the school in Kadikoy.

It is important to note, that I did not have any teaching experience prior to moving to Turkey. The main thing in 2017 that private schools wanted, was native English speakers from the US, Canada, UK, or Australia. Native-like teachers were often turned down or received incredibly low salaries.

So let’s talk salary

I was told by my friend to not accept less than 4,000 Turkish lira per month, including accommodation, transportation, and health insurance. I was offered over that amount, and I thought it was a great thing, since I had minimal experience. Let me tell you something. These schools know if you don’t know the salary you should be receiving. This is especially toward women: ASK FOR MORE MONEY ALWAYS. I was new to Turkey, and the USD was dropping rapidly (another thing I DIDN’T know about or understand before I moved abroad, so learn about these things!) I say that this is towards women, because I later asked my friends about their salaries (a man and a woman) and both my female friend and I agreed we felt too shy to ask for more–whereas my male friend had requested almost 1000TRY more than he was originally offered. Always ask for more- the worst that will happen is they will say no, and you have to decide whether it’s worth it or not.

Another point I want to make, is that converting your salary to USD/CAD/GPB/AUD is great and all, but salaries in Turkey are not going to be near the same as they are in your home country. This is simple economics, and now with the lira as of August 2018 being around 1TRY=5.08USD, it can look scary. Remember that cost of living in even Istanbul is doable on salaries of 5,000TRY (when transportation, housing, and insurance is included).

So do I recommend it

Listen, I had a tough time in Turkey. I was away from home (like really far from home) for the first time in my life. Yes, I went away to university (3 hours away), but it was never like this. I literally knew ONE person in the whole city. It got lonely at times. Most Turkish people do not speak English and I speak no Turkish. Teaching in Turkey is tough for one main thing: schools are not organized. I knew multiple people when I left Istanbul in January from many schools, and only ONE said their school was organized, and her school was also incredibly competitive to get a job in. It will not be like anywhere you have taught before and if you have never taught, you will be challenged for sure.


I do recommend going abroad and teaching, if your heart is in. You will be pushed and pulled, you’ll get sick, you’ll hate people you work with– but when a first grader (who literally speaks ZERO English on the first day of school) comes and hugs you telling you, “Teacher!! Teacher!! My name is Masal and I’m 6 years old!!” with the biggest smile, when another student yells, “Teacher! Teacher! My favorite color is blue!” or when the whole class can sing Snowflake, Snowflake, Little Snowflake, your heart will melt and you will feel like all of the hours are worth it, I promise. Turkey is tough to teach in, because these are the first generations learning English (most of the parents at my school did not speak English, and by the way, I taught at a fairly wealthy school).

So go! Have an experience. You will cry. Even if you’re a huge 6 foot 300 pound man, you will have your patience tested. But, I still miss my students, and it’s been 7 months since I was their teacher. So that tells you something.

Who can you contact

If you have questions about how to get teaching positions in Turkey I recommend the following FaceBook pages:

Foreign Women of Istanbul

BLACKLIST English Schools Istanbul

Istanbul English Teaching Greenlist

And if you would like the contact information of Calculus, I would ask you to either leave a comment, send me an email (, or DM me on Instagram (thebluerazaz). If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! I would love to help and give my input on life in Istanbul.

How I ended up in KSA

You’re probably wondering how a 24 year old woman ended up in Saudi Arabia.

And you’re right to question why the heck I decided to come here. There’s a lot of misconceptions about this part of the world! And, especially about Saudi Arabia.

In my undergrad, I took Arabic courses, and the first 2 years were taught by a little Saudi woman called Huda. I honestly found her so inspiring and dreamed to know more about her– which she allowed our classes to do during discussion classes rather than learning horrible Arabic grammar. I recall a student asking Huda if she hated her government, and jokingly told her, “we won’t tell if you say yes.”

I think Huda’s response is what made me genuinely want to learn more. She explained that in America, there were a lot of misconceptions, a lot of media telling lies about KSA; there are problems. But it’s not all horror stories we see in movies. Many students studying in America are on full-paid scholarships provided by the Saudi government, plus they are given a living allowance which is over $1500. Huda did not hate her government. At least that’s what she told us. And, honestly, Huda inspired me, and made me determined to live here.

There’s always a but.¬†

I ended up in Saudi because I fell in love with a Saudi, who loves his family more than anything in the world. When we decided to get married, I told him, of course I will come and live here- permanently. Inshallah.

So what do I do with my time?

I’m a teacher by profession. I think actually, some of my students are even reading these entries. But, right now, I’m between jobs, and spending my time really getting to know my city. I’m getting to know the people here– and trying to “make connections” wherever I go.

I want you to see the Saudi I love and the Saudi I appreciate. I want you to see the amazing changes happening in our Kingdom; I want you to especially meet the women who are initiating and breaking glass ceilings.

No matter what I will always say alhamdulillah, thank God, I ended up getting to live my dream- in KSA.

Who is The Blue Razaz

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first post, as The Blue Razaz. You might have stumbled across this blog whilst searching on instagram, or you might be my friend or family, or maybe a number of other ways people find blogs these days. I’ve had countless blogsites over the years, but I have recently made a major life-changing move, and I want to document it, like most young people my age. So! Here we go…

My name is Sarah, and I am 24 years old. The Blue Razaz has been something constantly in my brain for roughly the last 2 years as I transitioned post-graduation to “the real world.” Something they don’t prepare you for in America after you graduate university (besides the crippling debt you can expect), is how things don’t always go to plan. After a year of not finding “the” job, I took a leap of faith, and moved to Istanbul, Turkey in August of 2017, to teach English. It was to put lightly, awful, but it truly shaped me into who I am today, and looking back on it, I will forever be grateful to Istanbul and the experiences I had there.

Now, for the last 6 months, I have been living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with my Saudi husband, teaching English and really living my best life, alhamdulillah! The main purpose of this blog, is to share my life in Saudi, my life transitioning as the country shifts to a “new” KSA, and to shed light on what is happening here, especially in the field of Saudi women who are making an impact in our society. Before coming to Jeddah, I was always looking for blogs to read about what life was really like here, and I had a hard time finding any.

So! Let’s get started, and I look forward to hearing your questions, writing for your pleasure, and getting the word out about life in KSA.

Assalaam alaikum.