By Julie Burkett
Ragad Alsaid is a High Point University sophomore from Saudi Arabia. She moved to America when she was nine-years-old and has lived in Greensboro ever since. Many of her attitudes and family dynamics are still deeply rooted in Arabic culture. When asked what she misses most about her home, her answer is neither material nor physical items. Instead, she longs for the collectivist culture the most.
Alsaid explained that in her homeland, strangers would always try to help out when they can as long as they are all a part of the same community. She argues that this is fundamentally different in the United States, as she observed that Americans usually try to mind their own business.
Alsaid expressed that her favorite part of American culture is how comfortable and laid back it is. For example, in America, if someone walks around in public wearing sweatpants, no one will judge them. In Saudi Arabia, people will dress “to the nines” as Alsaid says, just to go to the store or places in public.
When asked about what was the most striking difference when she moved here, Alsaid discussed the different ways the two cultures handle the relation between the sexes.
“The men and women are separated all the time in Saudi Arabia, so I wasn’t used to talking or even being in the same room with boys,” said Alsaid. “I still remember my first day in an American classroom, they sat me next to a boy. I thought it was so weird at the time.”
In Saudi Arabia, men and women are separated from each other at a very young age, so many find interactions with the opposite sex to be uncomfortable.
Alsaid expressed that she is glad that she was able to grow out of this by moving to America. She still misses aspects of Saudi Arabia that she thinks many people would miss dearly about their home country. She talked about how she misses the food, and how making Arabic food in America is not the same as it is back home.
Alsaid said that she enjoys being a student at HPU and hopes to pursue a career in graphic design.