So I've been here 6 days now and I'm still on EST. Not a good place to be. I went to bed around 12 last night after reading for a little while. I woke up around 1:30 and couldn't fall back asleep. I kept getting on facebook to see if there was anyone on to talk to. Finally, around 7:30 I fell asleep. This wouldn't have been a problem if I had woken up before 3:30.. A whole day - wasted. We had a new student dorm meeting at 4:30 so by the time that was over and I ate, the day was essentially over (things on campus close early) and I didn't feel like leaving campus.. Hopefully I can get adjusted to the time change soon (although staying up the entire night before to watch the superbowl then taking a long nap, I'm sure didn't help the situation).
So anyway: Sharjah
Sharjah is absolutely beautiful! It's such a traditional and cultural place. We took a bus tour around the emirate to see some of it, but didn't actually stop anywhere except one of Sharjah's malls. They have a "cultural block" full of museums, libraries, wildlife centers, theaters and many other things, all the remind me of the architecture of the Library of Congress!
We could also see a lot of (what we think were) oil drills, an amusement park with a HUGE ferris wheel, and the Arabian Gulf. That's definitely one area I'd like to spend some time in! Luckily we have amazing study abroad directors here. They are all new, but are working so incredibly hard at making everything simple and exciting for us. They've planned trips every saturday for us. Most of which include going to Dubai, but a lot of others include going back to that cultural district, going on a desert safari, going to a wildlife center, an aquarium and experiencing heritage days. I'm so excited for things to come!
Perks about the school
I'm so tired of Marshall nickel and diming us for everything! Here at AUS, we can do our laundry for free, have free printing (includes b&w, copying, binding, and probably a bunch more), regular students get 900dhm (about $250)/semester for books, I get 700dhm (about $200)/month for food, our rooms get cleaned once a week, and there are water coolers all over the insides of buildings. Happy students = good students!
What do I like most about AUS and the UAE?
Things here have this extraordinary way of being so laid back but also strict at the same time, in perfection harmony together. There are a lot of rules. There is a dress code for (what is supposed to be the entire country, but emirates like Dubai don't follow it as much) everyone: nothing above the knees, no low cut shirts, no showing your shoulders, no stomaches showing and nothing that "defines the body". Basically, just dress conservatively. People here are around to judge what you're wearing or what you look like, more who you are and what you have to offer. There is an early curfew. On weekdays, we must be in the dorms by midnight and weekends, by 1am. This might seem strict, but its there for our own safety. Not the the campus isn't the safest place in the world to be (literally!). There are armed guards guarding the main entrance (the entire school is gated in), armed guards walking around campus (you're never out of sight of one of them), and another gate around the women's dorm where armed guards stop everyone before they enter. Even at the main gate, often you are stopped and questioned. It's not that you're in trouble. It's just that they want to make sure the only people inside are those that are supposed to be there. Aside from that, if you follow the rules, everything else is rather laid back. When you go into stores or restaurants, often prices are rounded when you check out. Prices aren't $17.64, they are just $18. And no sales tax!! If something does happen to come out to an uneven number, the sales clerk will round it to the nearest dirham (1 dhm is about 27 cents). As you walk around, the guards and other workers look mean and like they're having a bad day; but if you smile at them and say hello, their whole demeanor changes. They immediately smile back and say hello. Often will ask how you are and if you look lost will help you. I'm yet to meet someone unwilling to help.
AUS is starting to feel like home..