October 20, 2005

Saudi part4

From Sandy:

Sept 10, 2005

I keep forgetting to tell you all that recycling in unknown here. Conservation of water and electricity is, however. So in my villa, there are separate hot water heaters in the master bath, the second bath and the kitchen. I have the one in the second bath turned off (a switch on the wall) because I donít need it and it is a waste of both water and electricity to keep it on.

As Iíve said, my room here (master bedroom) is huge. Considering the room I had in my house in Cloquet was 7 x 9 feet, this is enormous. (havenít measured it yet) and it contains a king size bed. I feel like I would have to use a cell phone to contact someone on the other side of the bed Ö if there was someone on the other side of the bed. Kinda funny.

Today was the first day of classes. I had one student in the first class, one student in the second class and no one showed up for the third class. Then an announcement was sent out that classes will really start on Monday (the third day of the week.) This means that all my huffing and puffing last Wednesday was ridiculousÖ (big surprise)

I have been here over 10 days. Seems like I have been here much longer than that. There is still much to get used to. I havenít found a local TV channel with Jeddah news. The TV is pretty wild. There is a channel in French and quite a few in Arabic. Then there are movie channels with Arabic subtitles. I watched the beginning of a rugby game on one channel and theyíre covering ďThe AshesĒ which is a British/Australian cricket match on quite a few channels. Then we have ABC and NBC sometimes, CNN worldwide all the time. No Fox. Thatís nice.

There is a big typhoon heading for Taiwan. Just a heads up in case someone is going there.

Oh. Women do drive in the countryside away from the big cities. If caught, the ticket goes to the husband. Wonder if they would go after my ex. But after dark in Jeddah, sometimes women put on the male head gear and drive around town. Thatís only fair, because terrorists dress in abayas (the womenís black outer robe) to escape authorities. The last time there was a bombing in Jeddah (a couple years ago), the school moved the women back to the compound in a school bus so the army would know it was really women and not terrorists.

Actually, one of the women in the compound drove to the gate to pick up a friend. It stopped traffic. A woman driving. No one knew what to do. And because this lady is so nice, all the guys, with their jaws on the ground, processed our bus fast to Dr. Houda could get back into the compound quickly. The only people who were insensed were some of the Saudi women who live on one side of the compound.

Am still trying to find a relatively cheap way to call the US. So far, no major luck.

So far the only e-mail I can pick up both at school and at home is my UMD acct:

A professor from Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates spoke to us on Wednesday. He was a very interesting guy. We all had to wear the abayas with scarves because there was a MAN in the college. They brought him in through a special door. Some of the faculty members actually wear full face veils so I didnít even know who I was sitting next to. I asked who decides about head covering and it is usually the father or husband, but the men are increasingly not wanting their wives to go with the face veil or even the entire covering. One actually can see rather easily through this veil if you remember some of the total cover Halloween masks from a few years ago. Anyway, some of the women just prefer it. It is the ultimate in anonymity.

Gotta trot.

Sept. 14

Well, the typhoon is history with minimal damage. I have received many Bush in New Orleans jokes from people.

Classes started on Monday, but there was a convocation on Tuesday, so classes after 11:00 were cancelled. So basically, the first week of classes was a non-happening. The students I did meet were very sweet, alert and eager to learn.

Saudi 5 will address teaching and the amazing changes in Saudi Arabia that are happening weekly. This is a great time for an old 60s person to be here.

Dar Al Hekma College has the first Graphic Design program in the kingdom for women. The first interior design department, which may add a masters program next year.

Just last week, papers were signed allowing student visas, meaning that foreign students can now apply for acceptance to Saudi schools and come here on student visas. Last week. Wow.

The GD program will graduate its first seniors in the spring. That means we can examine our curriculum and make needed changes. (following graduation of a first class)


at October 20, 2005 9:19 AM