Friday, October 29, 2010

10/29/10

I will not apologize for my lack of blogging activity. I will apologize, however, to any of the individuals who tried to contact me last week and got a zombie-faced Chelci who lacked much or any enthusiasm and, depending on the hour, a pulse for that matter. Who needs a Halloween costume when you have a whole week of hellish midterms?

Having completed the hardest week of my academic career thus far, I feel so accomplished, relieved, and exhausted all wrapped up in the tinge of excitement that I’m trying so desperately to contain. I’m about halfway through with my stay here and this uphill battle is hopefully now on its descent. I can already taste breakfast on Christmas morning and practically feel the comfort of the long awaited family embraces (and my own bed).

These past few weeks have been filled with countless hours of studying mixed with spontaneous outings and just as random food choices. One of my favorite recent finds was some tiramisu gelato at a quaint little upstairs shop near the beach. It actually had full pieces of tiramisu on top of it! A few of the other flavors we tried were my final choice of pistachio and Italian coffee and cookies and cream. My roommate recently informed me of a place in the Dubai Mall that apparently has gelato that is supposed to be the best around. It might seem like such an untraditional food to be sampling while in the Middle East, but the thing about Dubai is just that. It's untraditional. Everything is imported, so everything is essentially derived and inspired from somewhere else. The upside to this is that Dubai strives to do everything bigger and better. So if this said gelato is supposed to be some of the best around, I just might have to seriously start considering a trip to Italy to compare for myself.

 I also –finally- got to try some Shawarma and am making plans for a desert safari sometime during my stay. I have a few other trips planned here and there, but I’ll save the details for an actual blog post. I swear I do more than eat.





Another recent, interesting event that occurred just a few days ago was the death of ninty-two year old Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed al-Qassimi, ruler of the Strait of Hormuz in the UAE – a major shipping location of the world’s oil. In mourning for al-Qassimi, all music has been banned. Radio stations are blocked, malls are silent, and the piano I tried to play in Virgin Megastore is apparently not open for composition. I am certain that I will never get used to these cultural differences and the firm grip that the UAE’s government has on its people.

In other news, I have a job! The University’s campus newspaper found this blog and apparently enjoyed my style of writing and photography. They’re employing me to write articles and take photographs for the Dubai travel section and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! Obviously, I’ll have to start making more time to go out more so that I actually have places to write about, but I needed to do this anyways. Now I’m just getting paid for it. ;) It is all featured online, so feel free to check it out: http://www.mbrsc.aud.edu/ (enter the site click on the MBRSC Post button located in top right corner)

I so appreciate all of the love and support from back home and God is active and working here even as I type. It’s been such a treat to be able to video chat and email with some of you and I encourage the rest of you to say hello sometime too! I’m busy, but a girl can only take so much schoolwork before needing some familiar social interaction. I miss you all more than you know and I’ll be on that plane home as soon as I can.

Much love,

Chelci




Saturday, October 23, 2010

10/22/10

What Friday nights look like when you are taking 18 credits of Middle Eastern Studies...









Friday, October 22, 2010

10/21/10

After an evening of watching the sunset at the beach, sharing a meal of Mandi with friends, and some grocery shopping at the mall, there’s nothing like coming back to a cozy room and brewing some hot tea.  Stepping out of the elevator to reach the kitchen, I found myself in the middle of a group of Africans dancing to Indian music, while others strained to hear the most recent Aljazeera reports on a flat screen TV nearby. 

This is Dubai.






Friday, October 15, 2010

10/15/10

To celebrate having been here just over a month, here's a few photos of places around campus to help describe just where here is.




















Thursday, October 7, 2010

10/7/10


I know my blog updates have been lacking recently, but at least I warned you that I’d have a difficult time keeping up with them! I’m busier than ever and these six courses have really kept me on my toes. I’m thankful that they all relatively overlap, however. It makes it easier when I don’t understand a certain topic (which is quite often…) because another class surely covers it from another perspective by the end of the week.

I preformed miserably on my first round of quizzes and I’ve had my nose buried in textbooks for hours trying to catch up and fill the knowledge gaps ever since. I’m still managing to go out on the town every once in awhile, but until I can improve my grades, I’m trying not to plan too much. This is okay though! The great thing about Dubai is that it’s pretty consistent as far as entertainment and trademark locations go. The tallest building in the world isn’t going anywhere, the malls will still be full, and the sand for a safari won’t disappear. I came here to get my certification, so everything else has just been an additional bonus!

Speaking of bonuses… Last weekend I was invited out for a ladies night with some of the girls on campus. There was a snug little sushi bar on the other side of town in the Emirates Towers that was hosting a karaoke night. A few songs and our featured hit single “Barbie Girl” later and we were all laughing and having a blast. I even managed to get a snapshot with a fake, light-up camel in before the night was through.




Other than the occasional outing, my academic career has seemed to, once again, trump my lifestyle. I have found a better gym on campus than the one offered in our dorm building and my former ‘gym-rat’ mentality has definitely kicked into high gear. I’m experimenting with more recipes that satisfy my pallet and that don’t require a refrigerator (seeing as how I don’t have one) and learning to cook around this handicap has actually been more enjoyable than I first envisioned. Cooking and the gym are basically the only reliefs I have from my six-day school week, but this all is survivable. I’m surviving and thriving.

Another pleasant surprise and probably the biggest blessing so far is the Christian Bible study group I stumbled upon on campus. A girl I met on the Dhow cruise from a few weeks back just happened to post something about it online and before I knew it, I was in the middle of a group of like-minded believers! I have a ride to a local church tomorrow morning and I’m excited to see what they’re all about. If anything, it puts me at ease to know that I’m not alone here and while we are without a doubt a minority, we still have each other and God to depend on.

I’m learning so, so much, meeting new, wonderful people on a daily basis and I’ve almost hit my one-month mark. One down, two to go! I officially have a plane ticket purchased (no stand-by traveling for me this time!) that will get me home in time for Christmas and I’ve already begun scouting for souvenirs and trinkets to share when I return.

I miss you all very much. But I’m going to try and not dwell on it too extensively… Your prayers are most surely working, so please keep them coming! Skype me sometime and say hi!


P.S. This is the easiest logo ever, but I just thought it was kinda cute.


<3

Sunday, October 3, 2010

10/3/10

This post goes out to my wonderful mother (whom I miss very, very much!!). One of the first things she requested to see was the view from my dorm window. So here it is!
I've been opening my blinds every morning since I took these photos. Thanks for the inspiration, among other things, Mom!
 <3

 

 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

9/30/10

As time would have it, things have started to look up and I’m not as unbearably uncomfortable as I was to begin with. My response to those wanting to know how Dubai is going so far… I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. It has its ups and downs and I’m just trying to keep myself occupied with spontaneous outings and homework.

I went on a dhow cruise last week. It’s basically a double-decker ferry ride that goes up and down the Dubai Creek accompanied by plenty of food, drinks, and music. On the bus ride over, I became acquainted with a great group of people and we have since seen each other around and make continuous plans to hang out. It feels a lot like freshman year all over again, but I’m so grateful for the company.

It was about 8 or so by the time the cruise started moving, so the only image I got of Dubai was lost in a hazy mix of humidity and twinkling lights. The party was going on in the bottom deck of the boat anyways. I’m so glad that dancing isn’t illegal everywhere. I had an amazing time talking and laughing with people, learning traditional dances (and some not so…) and snacking on the tasty food choices. I’m still so determined to try shawarma (a Middle Eastern sandwich wrap)!

As far as my academic load goes, I just finished my second week of classes and the first batch of quizzes. I didn’t do horrible, but I still have so much to learn. This is basically the first time I have been introduced to a majority of the information and my brain has been found to get rather overwhelmed with this wealth of knowledge! If I stay up to date with my assignments and studies, I’m hoping that it won’t be too much to handle.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has been praying for me back home. I have found so more peace in being here these past few days and I pray that time continues to fly by.




P.S. I’m getting a little more camera brave and actually going places worth photographing (which is basically anywhere outside my dorm) so keep an eye out for more colorful updates.