The World Needs a System Update

Olivia Overseas


As I sit on the plane listening to the endless drone of the engines’ motors, muffled only by the tunes of Taylor Swift echoing through my earbuds, I write the introduction of both this article and a new chapter in my life. Over the course of 24 hours, I will go from my home, where I have lived for the past sixteen years, to living abroad in Saudi Arabia in an international community. And while I can not help being sad to leave those I love behind for what seems like an entirety, which in reality is only five months, I am excited for the adventure I will embark on the moment I disembark from the plane. While some may argue my love of exploring the world stems from my unsatisfiable curiosity, others see it as trivial as the traits of my zodiac sign, Sagittarius, to those wondering. And whether or not it is a fate written in the stars, I know that the countless late nights I spent looking for an opportunity similar to this just for it to fall into my lap is a blessing that I will be forever in awe of!

I am one of those people who believes humanity is more alike than not. Our psychological makeup has all of us yearning for the same thing. Connectivity, and while that can look different for everyone, in the end, it is the backbone of every society. I yearn to experience as much of the world as I can. Right now, we isolate ourselves from the world because we are scared of our differences. In turn, this prevents us from seeing our similarities. My friends would let you know that I am highly opinionated, but I try to base my opinions on facts and first-hand experience. In the United States, we tend to jump to conclusions based on false narratives, especially when it comes to foreign communities.
I do not want to be ignorant of the political issues in Saudi Arabia. I far from agree with the societal norms, but I also believe isolation does not invoke progression. If we want to become a global society, we must share our experiences and learn from each other. Often people say to me, do you think it is crazy that you are going to Saudi Arabia. I agree it is a crazy opportunity, but I do not see it as crazier than moving to another state or country similar to the US. I think this is because I do not view the world as having borders, just as something I want to explore. I am so excited to be in an international environment at KAUST, an international university. I hope to learn about the world with people from around the world.

As society moves forward in creating a globalized world, I find it interesting how difficult it can be to achieve. Many countries require a Visa to enter, some being more or less difficult to obtain. The process of receiving a Visa can be nuanced and problematic. Personally, gaining long-term residence in Saudi Arabia requires many medical tests, records, and much more, which took weeks to obtain. Once all of our medical tests and documents were was sent off, it took almost a month to receive. Even though my visa was expedited. I can not even imagine the process and time it would take for others. Communication throughout the process was minimal. I had to move my flight five times before I could depart. The process is also expensive. Overall it is not accessible for the majority of people. I am thankful that it worked out for me, but I wonder how society would be if this bureaucratic system were more accessible. I found myself searching: why is the Visa process not more accessible? Would we be a more global society if it were? I do not know the answer. I am not trying to take down the visa system or allow free travel anywhere and everywhere. We have these systems in place for a reason, but I wonder if they are not due for a system update.