On Thursday morning, the office where I had interviewed called to let me know that I had landed the internship. I told them that I wanted the weekend to think about it and would let them know first thing Sunday morning before class. I had a lot to think about over the weekend as well as a ton of work from classes that week. Naturally, it was time to go out for a good time to clear my mind to make these decisions. When classes ended on Thursday, I called up a few friends and decided to go to the Belgian Bar fairly close to campus. According to the Europeans, it was a really great representation of what a bar in Belgium actually is like – complete with the correct design and drinks. We chilled on the rooftop terrace for an hour or two before the heat became too ridiculous. We hopped in a taxi and cruised down the boulevard to a well-recommended karaoke place. When we opened the door, the place was packed wall to wall; we could barely move. Eventually, we found the microphone and it was “Sweet Home Alabama” all the way. Half of the songs on the system were Korean, and I started having massive flashbacks to my summer in Korea at the noraebangs. We hung out there for a while watching Marc’s crazy dance moves and listening to Tom’s rather startling scream-o bit before deciding to call it a night.
Friday was quite a lazy day; all we wanted to do was relax. We spent the afternoon chilling at the pool and shopping at the Mall of the Emirates. That evening, I went to dinner with Marc, Vanessa, and Martina who have decided that their goal for the semester is to make me European in all aspects. After being approached three times last week to be told that I look distinctly American, I told them good luck. Their first attempt at the transformation by feeding me sparkling water was an unfortunate failure.
|Middle Eastern Culture Crash Course|
As I said in my last post, Dubai is such an international city that it often feels like being in the US, so I made it my mission for the weekend to explore some areas that were a bit more Middle Eastern. Though I’ll admit that this desire mostly stemmed from wanting to sing themes from “The Mummy” and “The Prince of Egypt” while walking around an old Middle Eastern-looking area, I was no less excited when I found out that the study abroad mentors were taking us to an old market (called a souq) Saturday morning. We took a bus from the school to the old section of Dubai next to the creek area where we were greeted by a man dressed in a traditional kandora at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding. I knew that it was going to be a good day when he started by saying, “Today I will answer all of your questions about the Middle East and Islam. It’s a day of learning, and no question is off limits. For example, many say that if you commit suicide you’ll get 72 virgins; I’m dead and that’s a lot to manage! What would I do with 72 virgins!?” He proceeded to take us on a tour of part of the old city area and demonstrated the standard procedure in a mosque. After the tour, we ate a traditional Middle Eastern meal in the courtyard of a house while sitting on pillows and rugs. It was seriously the best food I’ve had since arriving. The rice had a cinnamon taste and was mixed with incredibly tender beef and vegetables. He let me take some to go.
|A cruise down the creek|
|The desert church|
|Okay, so not where I work, but a beach sunset is a |
better picture than a gray office.
I started the week wanting to explore the "real Middle East," but in the end I realized that even though downtown Dubai may not be dotted with minarets or filled with winding corridors with little shops on the side, it is just as important to the region and its culture. With all of the events of the past week, I realized that it's important to remember that parts of the region, such as the UAE, aren't filled with violence and are modernizing and progressing at an amazing rate. Finding the real Middle East is realizing that the region can't be grouped under one umbrella and learning to enjoy the good experiences that come no matter what the surroundings.