Year 1: Spring Term Week 5

Hello all,

Life is good. You know, tonight was the kind of night that reminds me why I came all this way to the U.A.E. I decided to go on a school-organized outing to the desert with some students from NYUAD and from Zayed University. I can still feel it all washing over me: the grit of sand in my eyelashes and in my mouth, the flickering warmth of the campfire, and the rich Arabic syllables running back and forth in music and conversation. How much I wish I could speak Arabic. Really, I wish I could speak all languages, but especially tonight, I appreciated how beautiful Arabic is and felt the sense of community created by language- even though everyone switched to English when the conversation came around to me and the other non-Arabic speakers. It was really the first time I've gotten to hang out with Emirati students my own age from outside NYUAD, and I'm glad I got to see a side of the U.A.E. that I hadn't really gotten to experience before.

The sand dunes are so beautiful. I love being out in nature. I get restless if I don't go outside enough and I never want to take any of these adventures for granted. I feel so lucky- who knew the world could be as beautiful as this?

We went dune bashing (driving through the sand dunes), since fortunately the guys from Zayed University brought SUV's. We even got stuck in the sand once and had to push the car out! We then went sandboarding and sand sledding. Yes, the sand dunes work just like snow hills, although a bit slower. We played some card games and talked for a while in a portable carpet tent majlis thing.

Photo creds to Manson, my Sacramento friend in the U.A.E
who understands the importance of things like Jack's Urban Fries

I found the bones of a dead camel...

After that, we had an Emirati barbecue dinner, which was so delicious. Chicken and lamb, hummus and moutabel, salad and so much flatbread. We all sat on the cushions in the carpet area and ate with our hands and shared everything around. I tried an Emirati drink which was pretty good: warm milk with saffron and ginger. We roasted marshmallows at the campfire and listened to music.

In other news, on Friday night, I went to volunteer at the women's labor camp again and spent some time with the migrant workers from the Philippines and Nepal. Every time I go, I get more out of it than what I put in. I love to hear even little bits and pieces of their stories. We are working on a long-term project where we are creating art projects along with the women which will be displayed in an exhibition at NYUAD. We have a photography station as well for them to use. The art pieces, called "body maps", are essentially an outline of a person traced onto poster paper, with a collage of pictures and words that represent personality, home, family, dreams, goals, etc. One of the ladies wrote the national anthem of Nepal on her poster, and then taught us how to sing it. Another lady drew pictures of her two children, ages 3 and 8, who are back in the Phillippines. I was really impressed by the universal themes of faith, family, patriotism, and missing home in their artwork. I didn't really take any pictures this time, because I wanted to focus on the moment, but at the exhibition I'll be sure to take photos.

One of my friends, who I've mentioned before, is an amazing cook, and she made soup with basil from the fresh basil plants (If you missed previous posts, I have been babysitting her basil plants because my dorm has a window that faces the sunlight). We worked on physics homework for a while afterward.
My friend is a master chef

Chemistry lab this week was a little bit rough, 4 1/2 hours straight of making mistakes and not really understanding what I was doing.  But I'm learning. The first chemistry exam went relatively well. I'm doing my best to balance schoolwork, extracurriculars, and making time for life experiences like the desert outing. Sometimes it means that I have to prioritize some things over others and recognize that I can't be everywhere at once, even if I wish I could be. Thanks to everyone who is patient with me and helps me become a better student and person.

In vocal ensemble, we had fun playing around with some John Cage pieces. Can't decide if I love or hate his music, but at least he keeps things interesting.

Adventures in John Cage performances

In my writing seminar, we were assigned a book called The Art of Procrastination, which is about exactly what it sounds like it's about. Ironically enough, my professor gave us a deadline extension on our essay on The Art of Procrastination. In a course called Time. I love it. 

The mangrove forests are especially full of water/puddles with the rain we've been getting lately. I've heard that the rainfall is the result of cloud seeding, but haven't done research to verify that, so don't quote me on it. 

One of my friends had a birthday this week, and so we surprised him at midnight. College birthdays are so much fun because everyone kind of throws together a makeshift celebration, and it's always a little disorganized but it sort of works anyway. This one turned into an a cappella singing performance because I have crazy talented friends. And by that I mean that they are crazy AND talented :) 

Anyway, hopefully things are going well, wherever in the world you are.

Goodnight from Saadiyat Island,