Hello from Abu Dhabi!
*I now have a new phone number and phone plan on a local network. I still have all my contacts, but my old phone number will NOT work. Due to the high cost of international calls, it is easiest to contact me by Messenger, Instagram, iMessage, WhatsApp, or email for now*
|View of the Abu Dhabi city skyline from the campus center|
Here are some pictures of the campus:
|Campus center at night|
|The Marketplace Restaurant|
|Beautiful staircase in the campus center|
|Inside the Arts Center|
We are close to the beach, although I haven't gotten a chance to go there yet. The landscape is very flat and sandy - I'm missing the California greenery a little bit! But the desert is definitely beautiful in its own way. The weather is warm and sunny, but the humidity at night is worse than the actual temperature. More than about 10 minutes outside is rather sticky and uncomfortable. Luckily, the campus is well air-conditioned, so it's pretty bearable. If this is the worst it gets, it's not too bad.
My dorm has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a central living room and kitchenette area for the four of us. Two bathrooms for four people is really great. I'm so glad to have plenty of space, and so many dorm items (bedding, mirrors, towels, trash cans, microwave, mini fridge) were already provided for us when we moved in. I have a meal plan, which is really nice, so I don't have to worry about food. It still sort of feels like I'm on vacation- we still have one whole week of orientation activities before classes start and it doesn't quite feel real yet that I'm starting university.
|Living room area, also before being decorated|
I then got to visit Yas Mall, which was bigger than most malls I have been in before. It was really similar to American malls, with mostly the same stores. All signs were in both Arabic and English and the prices are in dirhams, but otherwise it was very navigable. People here wear all different types of clothing, from shorts and t-shirts to abayas and niqabs. I'm happy because I prefer to wear slightly more modest clothing than what is available in most California stores, and it will be easier to find modest clothing here. I can't wait to visit more malls, since shopping is a pretty common pastime here and the malls are really nice.
By the afternoon of the 19th, all the students had arrived and the actual orientation activities started. I met with the other girls on my floor, listened to a welcome presentation, and met other classmates in a "speed chatting" session. We also had a game night.
The weekends here are Friday-Saturday, and classes are Sunday- Thursday, which is going to take some getting used to. My church meets on Friday afternoons, but I wasn't able to go this week because of the mandatory freshman orientation meetings. I'm planning to go starting next week.
On Saturday morning, I listened to more welcome presentations. We then met with our groups for First Year Dialogue (FYD), which is a weekly discussion session to help us bond with other students during the first semester. We did a team-building activity- building towers out of spaghetti, tape, and a marshmallow! We were pretty proud that our tower actually stayed up, although it's a bit hard to see in this picture.
|My FYD group|
I then went to IKEA with my roommates to get some items for our dorm. It was pretty much the same as IKEAs are everywhere, but there was an interesting little section with some beautiful patterned rugs.
Until next time,
*Note- For privacy, I will try not to use names of other students on the blog unless it is really necessary. If I post any photo of you that you do not want shown on the blog, just send me a message and I will take it down immediately. Thanks!