I'm female, 20, living in Saudi Arabia. I started working full time at 17 to support my family (my father's unemployed, I have three younger siblings).
I studied by myself for high school and appeared for public exams. I couldn't go to college, as there are NO universities for expatriates in Saudi Arabia.
It's now my fourth year teaching. But that's not what I always wanted to do. My family doesn't understand that, all they care about is money.
I'm totally exhausted. After work, I study for my degree (I'm doing a correspondence learning course from Oxford Brookes University in the UK). Then I teach my siblings.
I never wanted to become a teacher. Although it's financing my degree course, I fear I won't be able to fulfill my dreams. My priority is to get out of this prison and go to some democratic country. Then... pursue my passion for writing or something.
I'm so torn between teaching English, studying accounting, living with no social life, no friends. I feel so old.
Should I grab my suitcase and leave this society, or stick with my family and keep supporting them?
Another fear: if I stay here, my family will force me into marriage in a few years.
You're a very bright woman with tremendous determination to progress, on your own, to the point of studying through a high-ranked British university. And you're very responsible, helping your family in many ways.
It's natural that you long to escape limits experienced as an expatriate in Saudi Arabia, in an impoverished family. Your ambitions go far beyond what you believe is the reality ahead.
Now, there are many things to research and arrange: Most important, is where you will be accepted for immigration and a position to support yourself.
A workable plan is critically needed, and will clear your confusion. I believe you should finish your university course to have the credentials for a move that'll provide income and opportunities.
That way, you can still help your family when you settle, and then decide which of your interests you want to focus on, along with the work that maintains you.
Many of my friends (early-30s) are planning destination weddings.
I've been on my brother's already, am going on another soon. While they're fun, I don't have a ton of money for multiple vacations and would like to travel to a place I choose.
Most of my friends believe a destination wedding saves them money, as they don't expect that everyone can make it. Is it just me that sees this as somewhat selfish? The couple doesn't want to spend money here so they hope friends will spend to vacation with them.
I'd have a cheaper garden wedding, which many friends can attend. Maybe I'm the one who's selfish.
Destination weddings appeal to different tastes: Some believe they're more memorable events for themselves and for their friends who can attend, while others hope it's the cheaper, more fun option.
Some couples do pay airfare and accommodation for closest relatives like parents and siblings who can't afford the trip.
Meanwhile, they have become a popular trend - a lucrative result of collaborative marketing by travel and wedding industries.
As with all trends, adult guests must decide what's best for them personally. So, if affordable, attend those of the very closest friends, take a pass on others (but participate in all their local showers, festivities), and have your own garden wedding when the time comes.
FEEDBACK Regarding the relative who regularly brings uninvited guests to family gatherings (March 2):
Reader - "We'd started an annual family tradition of a picnic open to all those relatives who are able to attend.
"We have it in our spacious backyard in summer so numbers are no problem.
"Two years ago, one of my sisters asked if she could bring a girlfriend from her office. Although nobody was comfortable with the idea, I didn't object, figuring it was a one-time request.
"However, last summer when she asked if she could again bring a friend, I explained that these picnics are for the benefit of relatives who rarely see each other the rest of the year, and that strangers didn't keep everyone feeling at ease.
"She apologized and promised not to put us in that position again.
"Sometimes one just has to state facts straightforwardly, and hope they're received in the spirit in which presented."
Tip of the day:
Major life changes require thoughtful planning if at all possible.