Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bad Behavior

Increased calls for Saudi-ization are all the rage, they have been off and on for years, but it seems to be reaching a bit of a fever pitch.  Companies now have to pay extra for the Iqama's of non-Saudi workers as an incentive to hire more of their countrymen.   Long discussed, especially by expats is the lack of a work ethic in the majority of the unprepared potential Saudi workforce.  I agree and disagree, I've seen lazy and I've also seen hard working.  I still believe that it can be pulled off, I really do.  However, how does anybody expect to instill a work ethic and teach skills when the most basic of social disciplines is lacking?  Work ethic can be fostered, skills can be taught, but until you handle the societal discipline issues its a moot point.  Take a look at the examples below.  These are just two examples from this week.  I do my best not to bash my hosts and this is no different, but these discipline problems must be dealt with.  I guess I'm a little shocked that in what is generally considered the most conservative Islamic nation in the world, these things are tolerated, and allowed to an even greater extent than ANY western nation.  That surprises me. 

Example one:
Last week in the College, a meeting was held between the Departments at both the Boys campus, and the Girls campus.  This meeting was of course held at our campus because it's not allowed for us to walk in the door at the girls campus.  The meeting time had been double scheduled with a make-up lecture by our Department Head.  About 15 min into the meeting, students began to wander in (15 min late as usual).  Normally finding us in a meeting they would retreat to the hallways to laugh and joke loudly, waiting for the meeting to finish.  However upon finding us in a meeting with women, they suddenly had large smiles on their faces, whistles from their lips, hand gestures defining the body of a woman and were generally jumping around and acting like...well like excited, horny monkeys.  One student even did the "Gangnam Style" dance in the middle of the hallway while looking directly at one of the female lecturers.  By this time, I was already on my feet and headed into the hallway, my face showed that wonderful "I'm going to hurt you" emotion, and I crassly said "Shut up and get out!".  My dancing student refused to go, so I took him by the arm (gently and without malice) and led them all out into the main hallway.  By now they had realized I wasn't joking, and they asked me seriously why I was angry.  I told them that they had embarrassed themselves and made us all look like idiot children.  They laughed, and said OK, OK, but Girls!!! I told them to wait or go take a break and come back in 15 minutes.  They headed for the break area laughing and talking excitedly.  The next day, I had the dancing student in my office, with another lecturer and my Department Head, I explained Simple Simon style that making sexual or pelvic thrust dancing gestures to a Doctor and Lecturer at the school or in General was highly inappropriate, and in most countries would constitute sexual harassment.   He said that he understood, but that I didn't realize he was doing the dance anyway and he didn't happen to notice their were women in the office.  If I would have understood, I would see that it wasn't his fault.  I looked at him incredulously and said, that's not the way I see it, consider this your one and only warning, get out of my office. He laughed and said OK.

Example 2:
2 Days later, I found myself stopping by Jarir on the way home.  I needed a new mouse for my laptop, but found myself straying towards the X-box games anyway (I'm a giant child).  I didn't stay long in the section though, because I couldn't get very close to the games without running into a group of teenage boys loudly discussing and arguing about the merits of the various games.  None of this was unusual and would have been found in any US store.  However what wouldn't have been found was what the boys were doing with the games...any game they found that didn't meet with their approval, they knocked off the shelf and onto the floor.  They did this about 10 times and then moved on.  A worker who had been watching came and picked the games up and re-shelved them.  Nobody in the store cared to stop them.  Not the women who were walking by, not the men with their children and families.  Nobody who worked in the store.

Later, as I was checking out, I was lucky enough to find myself in the same line as the boys I mentioned above.  They pushed and jostled, trying to push past me, bumping into me twice before I finally turned around.  I found myself looking at what at first glance I mistook to be a clown.  Gold Rimmed RayBan's, a Neon Giordano shirt of the tackiest style and skinny Capri pants.  I wanted to strongly tell the boys to back off, to wait their turn, to have patience...but if I'd have opened my mouth, I would have laughed.  I turned around and waited my turn as the boys laughed about the Ameriki in line and yelled at the cashier to take them first.  He didn't, so they yelled at another man to open a new register, he did and they ran over to that line.  They paid with 500 Riyal bills and left, getting into an illegally double parked waiting Mercedes.  I walked home laughing to myself and wondering what the future holds for the Kingdom when these boys are in charge.  When these boys are the cashier's, the waiters, the scientists, the doctors, the engineers.  The future looks bleak if you ask me.

Fix the discipline, fix the behavior and everything else will fall into place.  Just my humble opinion. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bangladesh is Burning

Just in time for US shoppers to hit up all the stores for Black Friday, "the high cost of low prices"* once again reared it's ugly head.  Factory Fires in Bangladesh have again given attention to the fact that you're only able to buy a $5 T-shit in Wal-Mart because someone else, somewhere else suffers.  These $5 shirts and similar low priced clothing are also available here in the KSA.

I don't have a whole lot to say on the issue, but I did think I would forward this link to a petition on  Read it for yourself before you sign it, but it for the most part simply asks the major buyers to push for a worker involved fire safety plan, and the transparency to monitor such a program.  Every year, hundreds of workers die in clothing and textile factories in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Taiwan and elsewhere.  I'm not going to suggest that all of the workers should be paid US style wages, as such a thing is just obnoxious hippy dreaming, however fire safety and fire escapes are basic human rights that should be afforded to all. 

Here's the link to the petition:

*"The High Cost of low Prices" is the Subtitle to a 2005 Documentary.  I doubt that they'd mind me using it in this case, but I have to admit...I didn't ask.  Here's a link to the Film's website:

**UPDATE**  Three managers have been arrested for refusing to allow workers to leave their stations when the Fire Alarm bells rang.

I'd also like to re-write an above sentence, since I fly solo without an editor (obviously!) I think that's allowed.  so:  "Every year hundreds of workers are burned alive in what can best be described as the inferno's of hell, many are overcome with smoke before the fire reaches them, but some suffer the much worse fate of having their skin roasted from their bones by temperatures upwards of 900 degree's Fahrenheit"   I thought that was a little more fitting, a little truer.  I spent a combined total of 9 years as a firefighter.  I think I have some knowledge on the subject. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Playing the "Fool"

The song goes that "everybody plays the fool" and that "there's no exception to the rule"...I don't know if it's exactly true for everybody, but I definitely have my moments in the fools spotlight.  A friend of mine took the time to point out that I'm currently not just playing the fool, but being played for a fool.  Her commentary was not exactly unexpected, she is hardly the only one who feels that way.  I see her point and the point and concern of a few others, however at the moment, I'm not prepared to change it.  This isn't because I'm in love or hope for some happy ending, on the contrary I want nothing more to do with the person pulling my strings.  I wonder though about the sentiment and the general feeling for the person "playing the fool".  Public opinion of the fool usually begins with sympathy and progresses to annoyance.  We wonder why the person can't see what we can see, can't see what is right in front of them.  Soon as our annoyance grows with the fool's refusal to take charge of their own life, we almost find ourselves feeling that the fool "deserves it".  Nothing has changed in the fools life though, only our perception of the situation and our interaction with the fool. 

I would ask this though, if we all have moments of uncertainty, of inability to do what is best for us, is the fool really the worst thing to play?  Is swift action always better than quiet reflection while we regain our footing, just to ensure that we don't unwittingly play the fool?  I'm not so sure, if  die tomorrow and the worst thing anybody can say about me is that I was a fool for a portion of my life, I'll count myself blessed.  Vigilance in not being the fool only leads to distrust and suspicion of all those around you. 

In closing, I suggest supporting the fools in your life, loving and caring for them.  The fools aren't the ones to fear and they aren't the ones who deserve your wrath.  It may also be prudent to ensure that you have no fools of your own.  People that support you more than you support them, people that are patient with you when they receive no self benefit from being so. 

I'm pretty sure there's a string of fools behind me somewhere, it seems it's my turn to walk a mile in their shoes. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blowing off a little steam

OK, the American political commentary is getting out of hand.  No, wait, its real F-ing far out of hand.  Its so insanely out of hand that I don't want to argue any more.  I want to cry, I want to hide under my covers like I did when I was 5.  I want to do what some people do and have a good long cry.  I want to get the girlfriends together, give each other manicures, watch Eat-Love-Pray and chow down on some Freakin Cookie Dough!!! WAIT...WTF DID I JUST SAY????  Oh well, F-it...THAT'S how frustrated I am, I'm having out of my mind experiences!

Lets get a few things about me straight upfront:

Age: 35
Education: Incomplete MBA, Undergrad Focus: Business and History
3 years Technical school prior to college (8 years in a classroom after high school)
Service:  Country: USMC Infantry Local: City Councilman, Foster Parent, Soccer Coach
Demographic:  Employed, 6 Figure salary, Homeowner, Whit-ish, Heterosexual, Divorced (Because she had to find herself)
Exposure to the world:  20 US States,  10 Countries, 4 Continents
Political Views:  Damn near a Libertarian on some things, Damn near a Humanist on others, but a registered Republican who has voted Democrat in the last 2 National Elections
Years unemployed since birth: 13 Years unemployed since coming of working age: 0
Years working 2 Jobs: 11 Days on Unemployment: 0
Weaknesses/Temptations:  Beer, Summer Dresses and the girls who know how to wear them, animals, New Orleans, Boudin, Tattoo's, BBQ's, motorcycles, good books, Rock and Roll, boats, The Blue's, beer, Jeans and the girls who know how to wear them, coy, snarky smiles and the girls who know how to wear them, girls not wearing anything who know how to wear it, beer...OK that's enough, sorry hopefully you now see that I'm a man with at least average intelligence, complete with dreams, hopes, ambitions and faults (notice the repetitive themes...) who for the most part has tried to do his civic duty for his entire life thus far.  

The American economy is in a shambles.  Our infrastructure isn't that far behind, and our current path is the very definition of "unsustainable".  OK, this I know.  I also know that the process didn't start during the term of the last president, it started a long time ago.  This isn't what I want to talk about.  Guys and Gals far smarter than me with entire lives dedicated to Economics and running models have beaten this dead horse until you could literally pour the poor bastard into a glue bottle.  I want to talk about the hypocrisy of the average American, of my friends and family.  Of any poor soul unfortunate enough to stumble upon this blog.  

Something has to change, we all know this.  But the cry from the rooftops for "secession" (Traitors) and the cry for the "end to welfare" are getting really stupid.   So I want to take a look at all the government bennies and government protections you and your family have taken advantage of over the years that you or your family have conveniently forgotten about.  Lets start with the boring stuff.

Student Loans:  If you've taken 1 penny of students loans, you've taken government money.  You didn't really think you deserved a federally guaranteed sum of money at 3%-8% interest and 30 years to pay it off did you?  You didn't really think that a BA in Psychology was going to get you anything anyway did you?  You didn't really think that "all nighters" over at the "I eta Pi" house was the best use of GOVERNMENT MONEY did you? You should have paid it out of your own pocket, joined the military or should have had to seek funding on the free market.  At 18, if you could have found any funds the interest rate would probably have been around 29%.  You're Welcome :)

"Scholarship" programs:   Scholarships, true scholarships are given by either schools or private industry (who probably take federal money) because of the outstanding academic performance of a student and the potential for that student to somehow advance their goal upon graduation.  Getting 2 years of college paid for (such as Missouri A+) by getting a 3.0 and doing 40 hours of tutoring with some hot chick is just not-quite-a-"scholarship".  So if you or your kid took one of these, guess what?  You're a TAKER!!!  You're Welcome :)
Tax Deductions:  You think Romney sheltered money?  Of course he did!  That's the system!  You do it too!  You write off mileage, home improvements,  children you chose to have, houses you chose to buy, clothes you need to go to work.  You hide every penny possible from the government and then blame us going broke on "the takers"!

Social services for needy families:  We all have a few of the less than stellar family members don't we?  We all have a few that made some poor choices or found themselves in unfortunate situations don't we?  Maybe it was us...How many of us moved them into our houses (I did once).  How many of us cashed out our savings to help them get on their feet?  (I have family who did).  Bottom line: Women's shelters, Children's shelters, Guardian Ad Litem's, sheltered workshops, programs for the developmentally delayed (hey I NEVER told you it was a good idea to have IVF at 40!).  If you or anyone that you don't want to see starve and die on the street has used these programs...You're a taker!!!  You're Welcome :)

Home Loans:  Did you have 25% cash down?  Did you serve in the Military and as such have VA eligibility?  NO?  Did you buy a house with less than 1% of the purchase price in the bank?  I bet you did...!  TAKER!!!!  You're Welcome :)

Morality:  OK this isn't financial, but its a subject near and dear to my heart that people have been screaming about, and some of you out there are the biggest morality hypocrites in the Universe and again as I said above, I do have my faults.  But, "Gay Marriage"? think it destroys the sanctity of marriage huh?  I think straight married people have managed to do that all by themselves.  Homosexuality is a sin, but Lesbian porn isn't? C'mon, don't lie...don't make me call you out on this one... Then we have coveting and lusting over your neighbors, co-workers, movie stars and sports hero's...that isn't just a little sinful in your eyes?  Seeing two men kiss in public revolts you, makes you say things like "faggot", makes some of you get up and leave, makes some of you complain and demand that it be stopped, but a man slapping his wife at an airport...where did your sense of morality go now tough guy?  Gay Marriage destroys the sanctity of marriage, but getting married 3, 4, 5 times that doesn't do any damage.  Having 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, affairs...sometimes 2 at a time.  That doesn't hurt it at all.  Abandoning your family to "follow your dreams" and oops finding a boyfriend 2 years older than your own damage to the sanctity of marriage there!  It's OK, I'm sure he's a great "conversationalist" :) That last one isn't actually about what some of you think it is...It's actually about a guy I met on vacation.  Poor bastard is so depressed that all he does is get drunk and cry, babbling on and on about the 25 year old dude on top of his 50 y/o soon to be ex-wife of 30 years.

You scream at the top of your lungs about Saudi Arabia and Sharia law, but some of you just want a Christian version of Sharia Law.  Sticks and all!  Some of you look in the mirror, see an ugly picture and assume that their is something wrong with the mirror, some of you just never look in mirrors I guess.  

Doing what I did, where I did it, with the connections I had...I know a lot of your secrets.  I know what Doctors beat and stalked their wives.  Cops and Firefighters and Lawyers too.  I know whose wife tried to commit suicide over the affair her husband had.  I know what business owners took plea bargains so they didn't have to register as sex offenders after didling their "promiscuous" niece.  I know which women had affairs and with who and whose wives caught them.  I know why the principal at the "school I won't mention" decided to "change careers"  We've ALL had a hand in destroying the sanctity of marriage and weakening the American family unless we've doing everything we can to hold ours together.  There is no need to blame this on a group, unless we decide to blame it on "US".  I also know who stole money (you know who you are too! ;).  I know who lied on resumes, forged their credentials, exaggerated their experience.  Don't worry, I'm not telling-yet.  All I ask is that during this insanely negative time in American history you take a look inside, see some of your own faults and work on those.  If we all did that a little more, there would be a lot less wrong with the country.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1 year

My office in Dammam

365 days ago, I got on an airplane.  
Guess you might say I took a little trip-and "what a long strange trip its been".

 Well folks, it's here.  My one year anniversary.  1 down and who knows how many to go.  1 more 2 more, 10 more?  They say if you can do 2, you can do 10.  Some people don't make their 90 days.  Some people go screaming for the exits on week 2, and even more complete that first contract year and boogie on home, a little better off, a little more worldly.  Then there are the others, the ones who for whatever reason, stay.  It's way too early to tell if I'm one of those yet, but as of today I'm a quarter of the way through the second academic year and the first calendar year has been marked off.  Oh and I'm the only American still here with this company.  I understand that to some extent.  2 of the guys had good reasons for staying away or going home.  Long story short...I'm the last of the American's.  Not quite as impressive as being the last of the Mohicans maybe, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was at least a little impressed with myself.  Despite that though I can't tell you much about it.  I've told you plenty about it before, but for some reason I can't expand tonight.  Truth be told, I haven't been able to expand on it for a week now.  I've been trying to write this since the 10th, now its the 13th.  Hell the only reason I'm typing is because I'm tired of staring at the screen and doing nothing.  I think I know the reason, can't really be sure just yet, but I think it has to do with contentment.  Happiness, satisfaction and reflective writing don't seem to go hand in hand for me.  Except for school assignments, I didn't write for nearly 10 years.  I always blamed it on life, being busy, being a father and a husband, working all the damn time...I think it was something closer to contentment.  The scary thing is...its back.  So instead of writing some deep, slightly cheesy, hipster band-esque monologue about how much I've survived, suffered, succeeded and what I've learned.  I'll just post a thought and a few pics.  Enjoy.

At times in life we feel lost, we feel as though our whole world is collapsing around and on top of us.  We can never imagine again feeling the sun on our face and the spring in our carefree step.  The advice of friends and those around us falls on deaf ears because they just can't understand how lost we feel.

Tonight I saw a young boy standing in a grocery store crying, screaming really, balling uncontrollably.  He thought he'd lost his mother.  His world was destroyed, his life over.  he was more lost than he ever had been before and thought surely, this must be the end.  Of course his mother was simply in the next isle.  Right where she'd been when he wandered off.  She came to him, his cries ceased immediately, his eyes dried and his face showed the happiness that can only come from feeling that safe, and that loved.

Every time we feel lost, every time our world is crumbling down upon us, every time we think there's no hope...our salvation probably lies right around the corner, just like it does for the lost child.  We just can't see it.  We're somewhere we've never been before and were scared that it'll always be that way.  

It won't. 


Train Station, Riyadh
Graduation Night 2012


A fatter me with my old Riyadh students
Giza, Egypt

Saturday, November 3, 2012

SalsArabia baby!

I thought that title sounded better than "My dumb ass on a dance floor"

"Men don't least not real men".  Yup, used that one before.  "I came to drink", yeah used that one too.  "I'm kinda tired from work", "my feet hurt", "I'm drunk", "I have a girlfriend", "I'm pretty good, I don't want to embarrass you".  All of these excuses have either seriously or jokingly escaped my lips when the topic of dancing came up.  

I don't dance, its just not in my blood...Had life continued on as it was, this might have been my future as well as my past.  However, life didn't go on as it was.  I found myself in a foreign country, divorced, looking at my options.  I'm not rich, I'm not that good looking, (although I am slightly devilishly handsome at times).  And I live in a conservative and closed society, so I have to make the best of my opportunities.  About 6 months ago, I found myself face to face with an attractive woman, first time in months that I'd even seen one, and this one just had to be an attractive, intelligent, dancing one.  Worse than that, she wanted me to come dance with her...I'm dumb, but not dumb enough to turn that down.  So instead of turning her down, I proceeded to the dance floor and managed to step on her toes about fifty times all the while proving I know nothing about dancing. 

The topic came up again a couple of weeks ago.  I was told that when I get a Multi-Visa, we can all go to Bahrain and dance until 4am...Shit, FML, now I had a problem.  I wanted the Visa, I wanted to dance with these girls, and here I am with the same old tired excuses I've always had.  Long story short, I decided to learn to dance, no more excuses, no more bullshit, it was now or die lonely.  Maybe that's hyperbole, but then again, maybe not.   

A friend forwarded me the info for a beginning salsa class and I signed up without hesitation.  Tonight was the first night, and what a night it was!  

First of all, let me tell you that that is exercise! Holy crap!  I had no idea! Second of all I love these guys, they are awesome, high energy, fun people who really know how and love to dance!  Thirdly they saw right through my "cool guy" persona...I'm their pet project now.  They've decided that in the next month, they can make me look something vaguely similar to a dancer...maybe-IF I practice.  

Want to know the biggest problem?  This is me relaxed...yep,same guy you saw at work.  This is me relaxed, with a face that looks like either the brain is doing long division or the body is taking a shit.  Maybe both at the same time.  That's just me!  I had a great time tonight, but my face showed intensity and determination.  It showed concentration and a desire for perfection, never did it show happiness, enjoyment or passion...Apparently those things are needed for dancing...Again FML, I don't have those expressions, hell, I barely have those emotions! The instructor told me to just relax for next week, I told him that this is me relaxed, he raised an eyebrow...I said oh you mean get drunk?  He said yeah, that might help. 

I'll let you know how it goes, I paid for the month and intend on attending the entire month.  Really, I intend on attending until I have it down, even if that's 2 years from now.  If I have to look like the most technically proficient, miserable faced dancer in the world, by God I'll do it! 

One of these days I'll be chatting up a lovely woman and I'll start in on my "Indiana Jones, I've traveled the world" schtick and as the night goes on, the laughter comes naturally and the wine flows, I'll find myself saying, "why yes, I would like to dance". 

The folks at SalsArabia are great, send me a message if you'd like their info for salsa classes in the Dammam-Dahran-Khobar-Bahrain area. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Settling in

WooHoo!!!!!  I've been adopted!!!!  That's right folks, I'm off the foster list and in a home!
If you're thinking about coming to work in Saudi, this is something your going to want to pay attention too.  3 weeks ago, this was a place I had to be to make good money.  Today its a place that I have the chance at a life while I make really good money.  See the difference?  You will if you come here.

Saudi Arabia is a hard land.  It's hot, it's filled with sand, and the wind can blow something fierce.  When the sky opens up with rain, cities flood, wadi's fill with swift moving deadly waters and sand pits can "quickly" turn into quicksand.  But this isn't the half of it.  You get paid well here because its also a hard land to adapt to.  Its a closed and conservative culture.  You will spend the majority of time alone and at work.  I read 14 books my first 10 months here.  I watched seasons 1-6 of a bunch of shows I never bothered to watch in the states. I spent 5 1/2 months not knowing a single person whose native language was English.  I also spent 5 1/2 months without a sip of beer or wine.  I spent 2 months missing my family, 4 months preparing for the divorce and another 3 basically just waiting to go home. Be prepared my friends, this could very likely be you too. 

When I finally did meet people, I loved it!  People to hang with, people to legally drink with at the consulate or embassy, women to talk to (LOL, you should have seen that disaster...there I was, drunk, depressed, recently divorced...yeah none of those meetings panned out!).  I still like doing these things but it's not life.  It's some kind of piss poor, watered down version of life.  You wanted Cheerios but got rolled oats, you wanted a Ferrari but got a Pontiac, you wanted James Bond 007, but got Maxwell Smart.  Its just not quite what you were looking for, you know?  For me, I wanted a family and friends.  What I got were heavy drinkers who didn't keep a girlfriend longer than a month and women that cared more about your looks and your wallet because they had no intention of being around longer than a month anyway.  (Now I must say honestly that there is a little of that in me too.) I'd be lying if I tried to say that pretty girls and cold beers didn't just trip my trigger...but all the time?  C'mon guys, that's not life, that's a low budget 80 minute movie.  I want my life to be more like a Saga!  Maybe think Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lonesome Dove, The Godfather...Something better than American Pie or Porky's! 

Now it seems that my prayers have been answered.  I have a family that cares for me.  They feed me, entertain me and maybe most importantly are open to me.  I tell them things and they listen, they tell me things and I listen.  We laugh, joke, and have fun together.  Did I mention that they FEED ME!  I love being fed.  But the most important part is that they do it because they like me, and I do it because I like them.  It's a refreshing change in a land that has very little opportunity or desire to be social outside the family, especially with foreigners.  

How I met my new found family is a funny story, one that maybe I'll tell you some day, but not today.  As of now, you need to know that I read aloud with their Grandson.  He reads, then I read and so on and so forth until were done for the evening.  Then I get to eat dinner and drink tea.  It sounds simple, but try not doing it for a year and see what you think then.  You never thought you'd miss playing X-Box with a 10 y/o did you?  You never thought you'd miss the sound of a mothers voice and a fathers quiet contemplation.  Maybe it's just me, maybe your're different, we'll see.  

So if this interests you here's a couple of tips.  Be yourself.  Be the disaster that you are if that's what you are.  Tell the truth, nobody likes a liar and nobody trusts you once they figured out you lied.  Figure out some stuff that you might have to offer or want to learn.  If you can teach, offer around to teach or tutor.  If you can play music, offer around to play or teach.  If you want to learn something, ask everybody you meet where you can learn to play music, speak Arabic, dance etc...eventually someone will pass your name along, and eventually you'll meet a greater diversity of people.  One day, you might get adopted too.  Otherwise you'll live an empty shell of a life until you burn out and go home, where you might find that it wasn't the place so much as it was you.