Sophomore Zeina Daboul finishes her school year in Saudi Arabia

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Courtesy of Zeina Daboul

Sophomore Zeina Daboul poses with her sister in Saudi Arabia. Daboul felt that the situation regarding COVID-19 is more regulated in Saudi Arabia. “To me, I think the situation here is a lot more controlled than in the United States. The U.S. is having an increasing number of cases each day, while we have a constant number every day,” Daboul said. “The U.S. has also been struggling with its healthcare system and how it’s handling the situation, and while I am pretty sure that [Saudi Arabia] has the same problem, the issue is magnified in the U.S. due to its size and huge population.”

After sophomore Zeina Daboul’s ordinary two week family trip to Saudi Arabia turned into a two month long stay, due to COVID-19, Daboul is now stuck 7,247 miles away from her home, unaware of when she will return. 

Having to adapt to an eight hour time difference while shifting to eLearning has made Daboul’s transition very different from her peers. 

“[The timing] didn’t bother me too much, but it did take away from the time that I spent with family. Taking into consideration the fact that we came to Saudi Arabia to spend time with family, I did sometimes put off studying for another time. When we have a gathering during school time, I would always give up studying for it,” Daboul said.  “If I were in Saint Louis, I would not have had to do that, so I had to learn how to balance studying and family.”

Daboul says finding a balance between family and studying became more difficult after the month long Muslim holiday Ramadan began April 23. 

“[The time difference] grew harder when Ramadan came. In order to not be sleepy [during Suhoor], I would stay awake the whole night. I would sleep after eating at 4:30 a.m. and wake up at 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. This took away a lot of the daytime that I would use to study, so I had to adjust to working during those three hours from 12:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. That was the biggest obstacle that I faced,” Daboul said. 

[COVID-19] may last a long time, and it will continue to reveal faults in [the U.S.] healthcare system, the economy, education and many other things, but we have to grow accustomed to it and develop ways that lessen its effects on different aspects of our lives,”

— Zeina Daboul

The situation regarding COVID-19 differs in Saudi Arabia compared to the United States. Having significantly fewer cases than the United States, Saudi Arabia has had several short periods of quarantine, usually 24 hours long. 

“The one big thing that bothers me is the fact that we are having a 24-hour closure on Eid. Eid is a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan and fasting, and we always spend it celebrating with family. We won’t be able to do that this year,” Daboul said. 

Even from a different nation, Daboul has noticed that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed discrepancies and inequalities. 

“[COVID-19] may last a long time, and it will continue to reveal faults in [the U.S.] healthcare system, the economy, education and many other things, but we have to grow accustomed to it and develop ways that lessen its effects on different aspects of our lives,” Daboul said.