Year 1: Spring Term Week 2

Hello all,


Life is good. I'm pretty tired because it's the end of a busy week and there's a lot to do, but things are generally going well.

In chemistry lab this week, we synthesized aspirin (with salicylic acid, ethyl ethanoate, and a phosphoric acid catalyst) which was pretty interesting. We have a biology exam tomorrow on everything we've covered so far- cell structure, genetics, DNA replication, protein transcription and translation, and transposons-- wish me luck! It's mostly the same topics as AP Biology in high school, but the pacing is faster, the questions are more in-depth, and the content is more detailed. We had two evening review sessions this week on top of the regular lectures and recitations. We're continuing electrostatics in physics as well. In my Time writing seminar, we had to read and discuss a novel and analyze its meaning, and we'll be writing a longer essay on it this week. It's interesting to hear the perspectives of my professor. He's an older guy, getting close to retiring, and he's pretty firmly rooted in the past generation's perception of time, telling us we need to slow down a bit and take everything in. He also likes to tell stories, which is nice. It's good to have a slower-paced class paired with all the sciences.

This is going to sound really nerdy, but I was reviewing biology and thinking about how cells need a growth medium with the right nutrients in order to thrive. NYUAD is kind of my mental growth medium, feeding me so much information and so many activities constantly. I feel like I'm growing academically so much. There's always so much going on. Hmm.

The extracurriculars are starting up again, which is nice. Again, I like to try a lot of different things (mostly because I have too many random interests), and I'm not sure which ones I'll end up continuing as the semester goes on.

In vocal ensemble, we're learning another madrigal plus a piece from a musical. Musical theatre is the best... I miss playing keyboard in the orchestra pit for Little Shop of Horrors and Bye Bye Birdie in high school. We have a strong bass section this semester, which makes the choir sound so much fuller and nicer. The songs are always stuck in my head.

I'm glad that I decided to do the "intermediate swim" P.E. class. I was a little bit hesitant to do it since I haven't really done any sort of organized sport in a while, but I can tell it will be good to have the designated time to exercise, and our coach is really helpful in improving swim technique. This week, he made us do a bunch of technique drills, like swimming backstroke with only one arm at a time and focusing on our arm position, which kind of makes me sink and swallow water. I kind of need to figure out how to swim backstroke without splashing water in my mouth and nose, haha. The other swim strokes are much better, though.

I also went to Bible Study on Monday night. I really enjoyed Interfaith Dialogue last semester, but it isn't happening right now, because they need to train new facilitators, so I knew I needed some kind of activity to keep in touch with spirituality during the week. Everyone at Bible Study was so friendly and welcoming, so I'm sure I will be back. We're reading through the book of John and discussing it. Such beautiful stories.

The weather is finally something worth talking about... It rained for the first time since I've been here, and we had this dust storm out of nowhere. I realized that acclimating to Abu Dhabi weather has probably destroyed my cold tolerance completely- the temperature dropped to around 15 C/ 60 F with cold wind, and I was freezing!

I had fun taking blurry pictures out the window on the way back from church.
These are what I call "the pineapple buildings," because they have these triangular window shades to let in light or block it out during the warm parts of the day, which makes them look like giant pineapples.

Even a little bit of wind picks up so much sand. 

Because campus is on an island right next to sand dunes, the entire thing was sort of enveloped in a giant dust cloud. 
Saadiyat sand pre- dust storm
Campus in a cloud of dust
Anyway, I didn't really have any adventures this weekend, mostly because the weather made me want to stay inside and watch movies/play games with friends instead of going outside.

I'm adopting my friend's basil plants, and I need to name them!
I've been calling them Rose & Mary, but I'm open to suggestions.
Anyway, I hope things are going well for you all. Friends in the U.S., let me know if you want to Skype and we can set up a time to chat.

Goodnight from Saadiyat Island,