Sulaymaniyah is in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. I teach Social Studies to children in grades 3-8. I'm happy to answer anything but just won't give specific names related to my employer. AM(A)A! proof!

Edit: My power keeps going off (pretty usual but it's worse today because it's snowing and quite windy). I'll try my best to answer all of your questions! I usually tell my students that power outages are not an excuse so I'll try to not be a hypocrite.

Edit 2: Ok so the power thing is worse than I thought. Looks like I chose the wrong day to do my first AMA. It's been going on an off for about an hour now so let's see how much I can answer.

Edit 3: Sorry for the brief answers, I'm trying to answer everyone before my power goes out again!

Edit 4: School is cancelled tomorrow thanks to a blizzard! I'll be here for a while :)

Comments: 149 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

Kickfrenchs13 karma

I have a degree in social studies with a minor in secondary education, graduated w honors. What would be the process for teaching overseas, how did you get to where you are today? Any tips?

njgirlinkurdistan11 karma

Great question! I studied political science for my undergrad and conflict resolution for my MA. The organization I work for does not require teaching experience or any certification. I don't want to publish the name of the organization since I signed a confidentiality agreement but the organization has many schools throughout the Middle East. I submitted my resume online and was offered the job 2 days later. They should always pay for flight and housing. I hear Asia pays the best.

I volunteered as an English teacher last year and that always helps as does volunteering with children in general. There are many TEFL job boards online. PM me if you want more info!

indearo_mandy-8 karma

I don't want to publish the name of the organization since I signed a confidentiality agreement but the organization has many schools throughout the Middle East.

It's already comedic to sign a confidentiality agreement for teaching at an elementary school. But to sign one so strong that you can't name the school or organization you work for?

Is it related to US national security? Are you a spy?

njgirlinkurdistan9 karma

Woah man, we're not just an elementary school! We're K-8, the big leagues!

indearo_mandy0 karma

Lot's of people refrain from posting their personally identifying information. But few can claim they've signed NDAs that restrain them from doing so, in a former war zone.

Is teaching your cover?

njgirlinkurdistan11 karma

Damnit, indearo_mandy! The world is on the line here!

beefcake2472013 karma

  1. I'm guessing you teach in English?
  2. Who are the kids you are teaching?
  3. What topics are you covering this semester/year?

njgirlinkurdistan24 karma

  1. Yes, in English. Most courses are in English but they also study Kurdish and Arabic. Some also take French.
  2. It's a private school so most of the students are wealthy and many come from powerful families. Most students are Kurdish but there are a few Arab students from Baghdad, Cairo, etc.
  3. 3rd grade is learning about ancient civilizations. 4-6 are learning about explorers (Columbus, Magellan, etc). 7 and 8 are learning geography, mostly physical geography.

TuRondhu7 karma

Do you like the local food?

njgirlinkurdistan12 karma

I was really disapointed by the lack of hummus. It's a lot of meat and veggies. They're also obsessed with what they call "kentucky" (also spelled "quntuki"). It's basically buffalo chicken. It's not bad but I wish there was more variety. We just got our first Indian restaurant which is pretty good!

TuRondhu4 karma

Great. I am from India. Hope you enjoy the Indian food there.

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma


CountToofu3 karma

First, thanks for doing this ama! Hummus is the shit of gods! When i was in Israel last year i ate tons of it, mostly with falafel (any falafel in Iraq?)! But a more serious question: since you said you are teaching many kurdish kids, mostly from wealthy familys, how present is the "kurdish conflict"( Sounds stupid, dont know how to say it)? I mean the fight against repression on kurdish organisations and so on.. Hope the question is specific enough(sorry for grammar failures, if there are any)

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma

We have falafel! 50 cents for a sandwich! To be honest, I haven't spoken to too many Kurds about it. They definitely feel separate from the rest of the country and many hope for independence in the next few years. I'm definitely not the best resource for Kurdish politics, sorry!

johnson_alleycat7 karma

  1. Is there a strong Kurdish nationalistic sentiment and a sense of autonomy and independence from Iraq?
  2. Are there strong cultural or community bonds with Kurds in Syria and Turkey?
  3. Are there a lot of kids compared to adults?

njgirlinkurdistan7 karma

  1. Definitely! I would never say "I live in Iraq" - it's always Kurdistan. But also, it doesn't feel like Iraq, I often forget that it is.
  2. I can't say for sure. From what I've read, definitely. However, there is a lot of diversity within the Kurdish community. Many dialects, etc.
  3. I don't see too many children on the streets and as far as statistics I'm not sure. I don't see too many children or women when I go into the city so it's hard to say.

Sorry I can't answer more! Hopefully as I spend more time here I'll get to know more Kurds. As of now most of my friends are expats.

PropaneSalesMen5 karma

Have you/do you experience bombings in that area?

njgirlinkurdistan7 karma

No bombings yet! It's generally pretty stable here. There was one across the street from my school last year however. I hear it's always a little unstable during elections so we'll see how that goes in the coming months.

[deleted]3 karma


njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

I spent a lot of time in Palestine and was also very surprised by how safe it was. I would love to go back. Wonderful people!

Henry7885 karma

Do you believe instead of AMA you should've ended that sentence with "Welcome to Jackass?"

njgirlinkurdistan5 karma

I'll keep that in mind for next time!

NotThisTimeYou3 karma

Hopefully she's making a good amount of money.

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

It's less than I would make in the States but everything is cheap and the school pays for my apartment, utilities, and flights so I end up saving a lot more.

Chrollo_Lucilfer4 karma

  1. Where are you originally from?
  2. How is teaching there different from where you are from?

edit:oops didn't see the "American woman" in the title, sorry.

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma

  1. Jersey!
  2. We are much more strict and harsh with the students but things are pretty disorganized. The learning is less creative and more rote so I try to introduce some creative activities.

late_rizer4 karma

Do kids over there seem more interested/respectful of education than kids in America?

njgirlinkurdistan9 karma

Hmmm. It's different. There are a lot more discipline issues than when I was in school in NJ. The kids talk way too much and are incredibly difficult to get to quiet down, take out their books, and get ready to learn. With that said, they aren't really mean or rude. A lot of them just don't want to study. I'm not sure if it's a cultural thing, due to their affluence, or simply an anomaly.

Rheine4 karma

Hi there!

  • How's the pay? How long do you plan to teach there? Are you going to continue teaching in foreign countries?
  • Is the Islamic culture really prevalent? What do the adult women wear?
  • What are some cultural gaffes you've had (or just things that surprised you)?

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma

  1. A half year I hope! I'm able to save about 1,700 a month so it's pretty good pay!
  2. Sulaymaniyah is pretty liberal. The women wear a mix. Some in western clothes, some fully covered. Most are somewhere in the middle.
  3. I get called Mr. a lot because they don't differentiate!

Rheine3 karma

Thank you for your answers. Wow, that's a good pay.

If you don't mind another question, how hard is it to find western food, especially fast food franchises? Is there any Mickey D's, KFC, and so on?

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma

There aren't any major chains here but a lot of fast food! It's pretty good! A lot of pizza and they fucking love buffalo wings (called kentucky or quntuqi here). They also have "chicken nagets" everywhere. I laugh everytime.

piggiewiggy-7 karma

$1,700 per month is not that much

[deleted]3 karma


RunningBearMan2 karma

And 1700 will go much further in Iraq than the US.

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

It would be hard to spend more than $400 a month (unless I travel)

seaniscoolikeice4 karma

Thanks for posting. My brother (23) is finishing up his degree in history and would like to pursue teaching ESL (English as a second language) in S. Korea. Any suggestions for him as he prepares? Any issues you've encountered as a foreign teacher? Any advice would be great.

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

I can't speak for teaching in SK but I've heard great things. From my experience, be prepared for the absurd and know that things will never go as planned. We have power outages constantly for example. You just need to roll with the punches. It's fun and rewarding but definitely the hardest job I've ever had. It's no joke. Aside from that, apply for anything you see! You'll never know what will work out. Keep an open mind. I never thought I would end up in Iraq!

Tarkaan4 karma

What book do you use? Do you share lesson plans? What's the focus of your class? Would you like to join is in /r/tefl?

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

Sure! It's always great to talk with other teachers. I've realized I should apologize to most of my teachers. I was kind of a douche back in my school days.

The school provides all materials so I just plan each week according to what I am required to cover. I include outside materials if I think they will be helpful.

Tarkaan1 karma

So you don't have an actual set textbook? I think a lot of our subscribers would love to see your materials. Don't be afraid to share.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

We have a lot of textbooks but they are all the property of the organization I work for so I don't want to violate copyright laws by sharing. I'm happy to share my external materials though!

therewasguy3 karma

about the classes you teach are they mixed up with the genders? male/female or is it male only or female only classes? what about other schools do they have a mixture of genders or pure female/male only? curious on how social interactions are there due to religion being involved it doesn't let certain aspects of behavior growth to take place, am i off?

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma

Mixed gender! I'm not sure about the other schools but I think so. I haven't noticed any differences with regards to gender. I do think that the students are less scared of me than the male teachers though.

aj57643 karma

How are the local people? Are they nice?

njgirlinkurdistan5 karma

Very nice!!! I've had anonymous people pay for my dinner several times. Often cab drivers don't want to accept money. It's really wonderful!

deus_irae3362 karma

d anonymous

Could it be that they are practicing ta'arof?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Not sure what that is but I'm into it.

whatisyourfavorite3 karma

What is your favorite: Book? Color? Season? City? Song? Article of clothing? Type of sock? Style of underwear? Activity? TV Show? Type of shoe? Genre of movie? Musical Artist? Artist? Food ? Website? Holiday? Animal? Song? Snack?

njgirlinkurdistan6 karma

Guests of the Sheik. Green. Spring. New York. A Nuvem by Suecas Garotas. A dress I got in Jordan. Ankle. Comfy thongs. Photography. Breaking Bad. Ankle boots. Heist. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Don't have one. REDDIT. Halloween. Elephant. You asked that already. Hummus.

10half2 karma

Cool! do you work for an international school or a more local one? I go to a British international school in Oman and I really like the community here. What are your experiences on that area? thanks for the AMA!

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

It's an international school but the organization is from the Middle East. I really love it here. It's not the most exciting place on earth but the people are friendly, it's really relaxed, and the expat community is interesting and welcoming. Something bizarre, strange, and exciting happens almost everyday! I come home exhausted but feeling fulfilled.

Kunt_Thunda2 karma

I was stationed in Iraq and loved meeting the locals.

*Have you traveled outside of Kurdistan? *How did you learn Arabic? *Do you see any Americans travel there? *Were you there when the military left? Notice a change?

I ask my Iraqi friends all the time how they are doing and they mention Iraq is in a bad state at the moment. I just worry about those guys.

I do miss their tea and practicing the language. maku mushkalay is my favorite thing to say. Most likely spelt wrong.

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

You should do an AMA! I'd love to hear about your experiences. The rest of Iraq seems like a different world to me even though it is so close. My Kurdish visa does not permit me entry to the rest of Iraq. Americans can only go with a specific visa from work or a special invitation. I really can't comment on the rest of Iraq because I have not been and won't be able to visit. I was not here when the military left so I also can't comment but am hoping to learn more from the Kurds I have met. I studied Arabic for a semester in grad school but I studied colloquial Palestinian so it's not always useful here especially because my pronunciation is terrible! Tea is the best! What does that mean? Really, my Arabic is pretty pathetic and my Kurdish is much worse!

Kunt_Thunda2 karma

I am pronouncing it how a Texas boy would say it, but to my understanding it means no problems.

Another military vet AMA on Reddit? NNNOOOOO

I'd like to just to focus on the positive interactions I had with the locals but I think I am going to pass. I lived in an area that trained Iraqi police and made friends with a few guys. They came by EVERY NIGHT at 8. I taught them English and they taught me Arabic. We debated politics, religion, and even had the toilet paper verse water debate. It was amusing because we both thought each others version was gross.

I can't find their tea any where here but I may need to try hard. I still can't believe how much sugar is added though. If you haven't seen how much they pour, don't look. haha

The weather is horrendous but for some reason I miss the sunsets. I wish I could go back and experience Iraq as a civilian. I am jealous of this adventure you are on.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Toilet paper all the way! I can send you tea but I haven't been able to find out how to send mail yet!

Kunt_Thunda1 karma

Thank you for the offer but it's cool. I need to find a place out here and it'd be fun to find it. You are the one away from home so you are probably missing a lot more than I am.

Duh. Try the post office. /s

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Easier said than done my friend.

TerranceMcGee2 karma

What's your favorite part about teaching there?

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

Everyday is completely exhausting. We are not allowed to sit while we are teaching and I spend a good amount of time yelling. However, the kids say the silliest things and I feel so accomplished when I get through a lesson. The expat community is wonderful. Everyone is intelligent and has led an interesting life. There are a lot of things to like if you keep an open mind and your expectations for luxuries low.

TerranceMcGee1 karma

I agree with the wonderful expat community. I was an expat for a brief time in Singapore.

There was one thing with the expats though: they tended to not really integrate themselves into their host society. Do you find that to be the case there?

Thanks for answering!

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

It's a mix. It's hard to integrate here because we live in a gated community/compound. Especially as a female, I find it hard to determine who to trust sometimes. I'm hoping to integrate more over the coming months!

TerranceMcGee2 karma

Yes, please be safe! I had a lucky experience to be in probably the safest country in the world, so I was able to immerse myself without much fear for safety. Thanks for answering, and good luck!

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

As they say here, spas (thanks)!

TerranceMcGee1 karma

Oh sorry, that actually brings up another question: How much of the language have you learned? And how many dialects do you have to deal with?

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

There's one dialect used here: Sorani Kurdish. I'm sure people speak other dialects but my Kurdish is so poor I would have no idea. I've only been here a month and a half so I only know the basics which I use in taxis. Basically "right" "left" "how are you" "thanks Mr." etc. Arabic is somewhat useful. Everyone here was forced to learn Arabic under Saddam so anyone over the age of 25 or so can speak decent Arabic.

edit: clarity

Curtis1870 karma

Why tha fuck do you yell?! This made me hate my teachers!!

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

I feel you! I'm really not a yeller. I've yelled maybe 10 times before coming here. However, the second you step into the classroom you realize why. Classroom management is by far the biggest challenge. The students stay in the same classroom and we shuffle around to them. Imagine walking into a classroom with 30 kids running around, throwing papers at each other, and screaming. You have 50 minutes to teach a lot of material. If I didn't yell, I wouldn't get done what I need to get done. Overtime, I've developed other techniques to help with management. I'm a big fan of uncomfortable eye-contact and sarcasm. However, these only work when a few students are talking. It definitely doesn't work when you have 30 8th graders running around, covered in face paint, and hyper from the coffee their parents gave them before school.

I wish I didn't have to yell. As I get better at teaching, I don't think I'll have to yell as much. But as a new teacher, it's important to show the students that their shit doesn't fly. Also, as a young woman, I feel to need to compensate more.

Skyzord2 karma

How are the students over there compared to the typical American students? Are they more respectful, more disciplined, etc.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

They are respectful for the most part but less disciplined. I yell all the time! They just talk a lot and try to get away with little things. I try to joke with them and say sarcastic things because screaming doesn't always get the job done.

Conspirologist2 karma

Hi. I have no clue about how life in Iraq is currently. I would appreciate any enlightement from you. Are things really this bad there, that they need foreigners from western countries to teach about Social Studies their children?

njgirlinkurdistan6 karma

Iraqi Kurdistan is, from my understanding, completely different from the rest of Iraq. There is a lot of money from oil exports and international development and investment. There is little violence and things are generally calm. Of course there is poverty but it is not the war-torn devastation one would think. Kurdistan is truly different. Many describe it as Dubai 20 years ago. I haven't been to Dubai so I can't say for myself. Sulaymaniyah is a pretty young city, which would seem to many like a shanty-town with million dollar hotels. The development has been hasty and haphazard but things are definitely happening and I will be curious to see where it is in a decade or two.

The reason they need so many expats is brain-drain. Of course this is a generalization but it is my understanding that the wealthy usually become doctors, businessmen, and lawyers and move abroad.

Edit: spelling

yusharathbone2 karma

A friend of mine worked at Zakho University (NW near the border with Turkey) teaching English; his impressions of his time there weren't great, mostly based around a complete lack of social life; a) how are you finding this aspect in particular?

b) Furthermore, are you making an effort to learn Kurdish? Do you speak Arabic already, and if so, do you use that?

c) Do you stray beyond Kurdistan territory? Have you ever been to Mosul or Kirkuk, or have you been warned against it by Kurds due to the increasing violence?

Cheers for the AMA, we need more insights of this sort, and especially from this region which in my experience tends to be misunderstood.

Edit: P.S. Have you ever been to the German Bar in Erbil? I had the pleasure of playing there and was interested to see the collection of a variety of ex-pats from 'the west' working as contractors etc.; do you fit into this community/is it one you are aware of?

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

A. Nightlife is definitely lacking compared to many other places in the Middle East. However, I'm fortunate to have great friends and I've found a few bars and cafes that I really enjoy. We have a lot of house parties! There are a lot of liquor stores so drinking isn't a problem. B. I haven't learned much Kurdish. Just enough for the taxi drivers. I studied Arabic for a semester but it's not great. I'd prefer to learn Arabic because it's more useful in general. Also, there are several dialects of Kurdish that are very different so even if I did learn it, it wouldn't be that useful. C. My visa only permits me to visit Iraqi Kurdistan. I can travel through Kirkuk but have been advised not to go. There is definitely a strong sense of separation from the rest of Iraq and I've certainly been advised not to go (even if I could)

Haven't been to the German bar yet but next trip I'll check it out! Thanks for the tip!!

hey_dirty2 karma

I can't think of a more interesting experience than teaching 3rd grade ancient civilizations in that part of the world! Do you get to take them on field trips? If so, where?

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

Not yet! I don't think I will but I do teach photography and get to bring them around the compound which is fun!

hey_dirty1 karma

I had an opportunity to teach in Erbil, but had to pass on it... I would have absolutely loved taking that job.

Do you have any plans when you get back stateside? I'm actually looking for people to act as agents and help send students to the USA to study.

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

No plans! I just signed my contract for another year. I have an MA in conflict resolution so I'd eventually like to do something with that but I'm enjoying myself for now.

hey_dirty1 karma

Another year? Must not be too bad :) I'm jealous.

If you know of anyone who would like to study in the US, you can PM me and I can give you some details on F-1 student visas.

Have fun and stay safe!

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

That would be great! Thank you!

ttjp891 karma


njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

It's totally safe! Really! It's definitely safe to visit and pretty easy to get around.

AutoModerator1 karma

Hello! You don't have any links in your post, which probably means you didn't provide any form of proof. All AMAs require proof, and here are instructions on how to provide some. We really prefer that you post the proof in the text of your post, but it can also be sent confidentially to the moderators if necessary. If you can't or won't provide proof, there is no need to message the moderators. Delete your post and repost it in /r/CasualIAmA. If you do not provide proof, your AMA will be removed. Thank you, and enjoy your AMA!

Readers, if the OP just ignores this message or the post breaks the rules of /r/IAmA, then please click here to tell the mods that OP is not following the rules. If the OP has since provided proof but it isn't sufficiently believable for you, then ask for more and message the moderators if the OP doesn't provide any more.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

Proof (sorry for the quality, my phone is pretty shitty) My Temporary Kurdish Residency ID

fcburdman1 karma

  1. How was adapting to the culture in the middle-east? Was it a bit of culture shock or did you have previous experience with culture's idiosyncrasies?

  2. How did your opportunity to teach in Iraq arise?

  3. Do you plan on staying there for a while?

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

I spent the last year living in the Middle East so I'm used to some aspects of the culture. I also spent 6 months living in Europe a few years ago so I'm also generally used to adapting to new cultures. The biggest challenge was the normal things, finding friends, making my place a home, etc. Nothing here has been too shocking yet!

I was doing my MA in Conflict Resolution the Middle East and realized I wanted to work in a conflict zone after graduation. I saw the job online and sent my resume. They offered my the job 2 days later!

I will be here for at least one more year but don't plan to stay forever. I'm hoping to go somewhere new or find a job I really love in NYC. We'll see!

fcburdman1 karma

Glad to hear things have been working out for you! I'm sure this will be a great life experience.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma


teshupbelia1 karma

Hey! from a NJ guy who was in Erbil for two months this summer. It was great to be working in Kurdistan, but I wasn't a huge fan of Erbil itself. I've heard that both the culture and the climate are much nicer in Sulaymaniya.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Hey! Where in Jersey? I'm from Bergen County. How did you like Erbil? Any tips of places to visit? Suli seems to be a lot more liberal but Erbil definitely has a lot more going on.

Mitchenmanjensen1 karma

What languages do you speak? Other than English, of course.

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

I speak some German, a little Dutch, and a little Arabic. I really wish I had tried to learn a language earlier. It's so difficult now.

LemonTeeth1 karma

What would you say is the biggest misconception that you've personally encountered and broken.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Personally I would say that most people think it is very violent and dangerous here. I haven't encountered anything of the sort. It's very calm and the people are friendly. Life is normal despite all the close proximity. If I didn't know that we were surrounded by so many conflicts, I would really have no idea based on my own experiences. Sure, there is a lot of security but as far as conflict there is very little. I'm happy to report this!

LemonTeeth0 karma

Sad to imagine a country where your own people are attacking your "new" people. Glad to see not everyone there views westerners as bad individuals.

njgirlinkurdistan7 karma

Not at all! They actually really like Americans here because we got rid of Saddam. I have off for "Iraq Liberation Day." As someone who opposed the war it's interesting to see a different side. Really nothing is completely black and white. I wouldn't say I support the US invasion now by any means but I like having my views challenged and seeing how complex the world really is.

karmaisourfriend1 karma

What steps do you take to stay safe? Do you receive any pressure from Muslims to behave, or dress a certain way? I think your are great!

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Not too much! I don't wear a headscarf. I just don't dress like a typical Jersey girl. No pressure from the Muslims. Some taxi drivers won't take people to a liquor store but that's about it. There's little judgement as they know our lifestyles are different.

karmaisourfriend1 karma

That is wonderful to hear! Do they know about Malala? If so what is the general consensus?

njgirlinkurdistan5 karma

I'd have to ask. Not sure! She's Pakistani so she's just as foreign as I am to them.

johnny121b1 karma

Overall, how is the USA perceived by the kids you teach? Do you see their generation as being more or less culturally divided than the general population?

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

They love it! They always want to ask me questions about it. My students, both Arabs and Kurds get along really well. I don't want to extrapolate that to the rest of the population. I have really high hopes for their success. They're generally bright and cultured.

[deleted]1 karma

Do they speak Kursish or Arabic there?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Kurds speak Kurdish. Many speak Arabic because they were forced to under Saddam. But Kurdish is what I hear most of the time.

metaltrite1 karma

As a woman, how are you treated?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

Pretty well! Men stare a lot but that's certainly not unique to Kurdistan. I don't sit in the front seat of a cab next to the driver but that's about it.

nocarbs1 karma

Might be a dumb question but, how informed are the people about the rest of the world? Are they in general well educated or are they tribal and local like?

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

In Suli they are very informed. I'm always amazed by how much my students know about American pop culture. The 8th graders love Tupac. In my experience, Middle Easterners know a great deal about politics and world events. Much more than the average American. Outside of the city it could very well be much different. There is a lot of money in the city so a lot of Kurds have spent a great deal of time abroad. Many left in the 90's and got asylum in Europe. Some have recently returned because it's safe and there is a lot of foreign investment.

Hamzaboy1 karma

Are there any ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

There are a lot of Arabs living and working here now because of the surrounding conflicts. I haven't witnessed anything specific but because of the historical context I would assume that there are tensions.

VibrantGoo1 karma

How is the urban development there? i.e. layout of cities and houses. I heard this, not sure if it true. Windows are usually high in homes so strangers cannot peek inside to look at women. Also, I heard there are many dead ends as to keep homes more 'private.'

Also, I've traveled to eastern Turkey and they were extremely friendly and welcoming to foreigners. They don't see many solo white females. Would you say the same in Iraq?

Is there are large immigrant population that go there to work as maids, etc.? What are views on immigrants?

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

The layout seems utterly unplanned for the most part. There are million dollar hotels next to collapsing, unfinished buildings. However, the city is designed with a series of ring streets that go out from the center. I live off of one of the outer rings, 60 meter street. However, I wouldn't be able to navigate too well but I probably just need to get to know it better.

There aren't too many western expats here so I get a lot of looks when I go out. I don't really blend in, especially because of I have blonde hair. People are generally really friendly but quite curious as well.

Immigrants are usually from South East Asia and I would say are not treated well. Their wages are incredibly low. I'm not sure about specific treatment but I would assume that they are not treated very well based on what I've heard.

Arkanicus1 karma

Honestly I don't know how you could do it. I was born in the area and we fled during the first gulf war. I was lucky enough to have grown up in Canada. I got the chance to visit the area after 20 years....and I couldn't stand it. The food was really good and cheap but pretty much everything else was a bother.

I was really surprised to see a China town in Suli though.

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

I haven't been to China town yet! I know a lot of the locals complain that it is boring here but I like it because it's so different from where I grew up so everyday is new and exciting.

freefromdesire1 karma

I have heard Kurdistani women are particularly beautiful and that they look different from the 'stereotypical' arab in the sense that they are lighter skin and hair colour as well as coloured eyes. true?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

I've noticed a lot of diversity. Some are very light skinned with very beautiful light eyes. Others are darker. It's a mix!

WTFThisIsNotGoogle1 karma

Helloooooo. Why did you decide to teach in Kurdistan? You weren't afraid, even there were no bombattack for a long time? And what was your worst/best experience in Kurdistan?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

I had just finished my MA in Conflict Resolution and wanted to go to a (somewhat) stable conflict/post-conflict zone. I saw the job online and applied and was offered the job two days later!

I think the worst experience was my first day teaching. I arrived on Saturday morning with know information about what or whom I would be teaching. I started teaching a full day Sunday morning (weekends are Friday and Saturday here). I felt incredibly inept and stressed. It's gotten a lot easier since then! Also, it can be quite stressful when the power goes out for a long time, especially when I have grading and lesson plans to do.

The whole experience has been wonderful as a whole. So many of the kids are sweet and funny. I love hearing their accents and ridiculous comments! I feel so fortunate to have a wonderful group of friends. It's great to come home after a long day and bitch about the ridiculous things the kids did! I always wonder how many of my teachers complained about me to their friends.

Tat2dKing1 karma

Sorry for being late. Have you discriminated against because you're white/American? How was it? What do you miss from America? What is the daily norm over there that would freak out Americans over here?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

I haven't felt any discrimination. People definitely stare when I got out (I have blonde hair) but that's about it. Besides my friends and family, I miss access to different types of food (mostly cheeses and bacon). As for your last question, it depends if people have been to the Middle East before. Some people are really shocked by how loud the call to prayer is. I've really come to enjoy hearing it echo across the city. I haven't experienced anything too crazy or strange.

scolmer1 karma

At what point have you felt most in danger?

njgirlinkurdistan2 karma

Not really ever. I've had several scary experiences elsewhere in the Middle East but here has been very relaxed. The government required us to get a blood test for our residency card. I was a little concerned about it being sanitary since it was basically in a shack on some random street but it worked out ok. Aside from that, really nothing. I've never felt threatened.

AugDim1 karma

Do you take any extra precautions to ensure your safety? Specifically during life outside of the school, do you carry a concealed weapon or wear a bullet proof vest?

njgirlinkurdistan3 karma

Noooooo. Kurdistan is very safe. As a woman, I try not to walk or go out by myself at night but that's easy because I live near all of my friends so we can always share a cab somewhere. It's honestly one of the safest places I've been in the Middle East. There are a lot of guns here. Most stores have "No Guns" signs on the outside but I haven't heard of any shootings or violence.

saeedzaxo1 karma

do you like Kurdistan? like visiting, hotels, restaurants, people, educating ?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

I love it! It's not the most exciting place in terms of things to do but once you find your friends and places you enjoy it is quite wonderful.

eraof90 karma

are you not scared of been raped with all the media articles going on?

njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

No. It's not like people are being raped left and right. It's always a concern. While I was in Egypt, I was pretty scared and did have an incident on the subway where I was groped. Here though I've really never felt afraid. I just dress somewhat modestly (no headscarf but pants or a knee-length skirt and covered to the elbows. I try to keep the tits covered). It's just important to think a little more about actions. I don't walk around at night alone. That's pretty much the only precaution I take because people are generally friendly and respectful.

DebianSqueez-1 karma


njgirlinkurdistan1 karma

I've included a link to my residency card at the top. I can provide more if you are skeptical.

creatorofrthe-6 karma

I hate to be the Devil's advocate here, but you'll probably come home in a box. Really!

njgirlinkurdistan4 karma

There's really nothing to support that whatsoever. I'd encourage you to research Kurdistan, especially Sulaymaniya. I'd rather walk around here than many places in the US, especially NJ.