Friday, February 4, 2011

First Impressions

I made it! My first solo flights! That also includes carrying ALL my stuff, getting my visa, passport control, retina scan, getting my bags, customs, getting cash, a sim card, and finding my driver alone in a new country (where most speak only broken english) None-the-less, I'm here. Settled into my dorm room.

So.. the flights.. The first flight was an express from Pittsburgh to DC. With all the storms, it was a pretty bumpy ride. Not gonna lie, it was actually kind of scary. But 30 minutes later, we landed and the pilot welcomed us to Chicago.. yup.. then he laughed and welcomed us to DC. The next flight was waaaaaay too long. It was supposed to last 12 hours, but we made it almost an hour early. That gave me time to get through everything in the (gianormous!) airport so the driver didn't have to wait too long. The flight itself actually wasn't too bad. Since we left at night, almost everyone went straight to sleep and put the blinds down. So aside from some small lights, it was pretty dark on the plane. This messed with my mind though! Image being in a dark box with no windows, no clocks, and no sense of where you are! The only thing I had was the TV on the seat in front of me with a map of where we were and a countdown until when we should be arriving. This didn't tell me what time it was (not that it really would have mattered, seeing how many time zones we were crossing). When we were right on top of Turkey I did open my blind to see what was going on outside and saw the most amazing mountains!

A little later, again I opened the blind and saw the most gorgeous sunset! I tried to take a picture of it, but it didn't come out so well. When we began to approach the UAE, I could see the lights of the city (which from 15,000 feet looks pretty flat) and I'll never forget it. I could see some rolling clouds above the city, well below us, and there was one building sticking out from the top. I can't say 100% but I'm almost positive it was the Burj Khalifa. Every other high rise building looks flat, and this one still looks huge! It was so beautifully lit, too! That's when I began to get incredibly excited!

So on to today.. It's Friday, so its the weekend. Since I had nothing scheduled to do.. I had plenty of time to just wander around and explore the campus a little bit. Its gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful! I've never seen anything quite like it! In pictures, yeah sure, then you get there and it's all run down, like they took the pictures they day it was built, 25 years ago! But not here! The sidewalks are marble and the buildings look like scenes from a movie! The grass is perfectly cut and the bushes are cut. There is nothing out of place. But anyway, here is a picture of one of the buildings you see when you first go onto campus (which is guarded by gates and armed guards, then the women's dorms have their own fence and armed guards, not to mention the guards at almost every building!)

The entire campus looks like this, too!

The people here are very friendly, too. (Aside from the people at the airport who do their best not to speak at all.) Especially the supervisors of the women's dorm, they'll do anything to help you get settled in. It's still a little difficult to communicate at this point. Everyone speaks English, but it's definitely a second language. They are very patient, as I am with them and eventually we each get across the message we are trying to convey. Sometimes is easier than others, of course.

Tomorrow is the first day of orientation, so hopefully I begin to meet people and won't be quite so alone before classes start! And I think tomorrow, we get to take a bus trip into Dubai! I'm pretty excited about that! 

But anyway, until next time! 

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