A New Life in America

Saja Katmeh and her big move across the world


Saja Katmeh recently made a massive change in her life and moved thousands of miles away from her home, Saudi Arabia. Saja, a junior at Rocklin High School, just moved from Saudi Arabia a few months ago and is learning how to adapt to her new life here in Rocklin.

Although she was born here in the United States, she lived in Saudi Arabia for more than ten years and was accustomed to their way of life. Even though moving and changing lifestyles is difficult, Saja is glad it happened.

“I’ve dreamed of moving here ever since mom broke news to me 2 years ago. It’s a nice change, going from a desert to a nature-filled place with accepting people,” said Katmeh.

One difference between our two countries are our ideas on women. Women in Saudi Arabia have less rights than women here in America, and to Saja, it’s one of the reasons she is glad she moved.

“I’ll put it bluntly: it sucked. We weren’t supposed to go out alone and were supposed to always be wearing a A’abaya (عباية), a long covering robe that covered all our body except the head. Women couldn’t drive at all, not until recently actually, but even then the age limit is 30+. It only limited me to feeling weak and that I’m supposed to be dependent on men, which I really hated. If I did consider going out alone, even being seen with a friend in public attracts stares to you. It really just made me hate the country a little more.”

“One of the things I love most about living here is the freedom”, said Katmeh. “You feel like you can walk outside without people thinking things about you. If they see a woman walking out, they glare at you.”

According to Saja, many people have a lot of misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. Coming to this country has given her the opportunity to explain what life is really like there, and give people information that they were never aware of.

“People seem to think it’s a perfect place because its a Muslim country, and some think it’s violent because they believe all muslims are terrorists. They’re both wrong. It’s a nasty polluted country filled with unfriendly people that aren’t as open as they are here, but it isn’t as violent as other make it out to be. It’s not even a little violent. Honestly, the unfriendliness and cheating (business wise, mostly) done is enough of a turn-off for most people, if the heat and trash don’t do that, that is.”

Although leaving Saudi Arabia was hard because it meant leaving friends and family, Saja is excited to see what life in America, and can’t wait to make new friends and memories here at Rocklin High School.