Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Last Friday was one of the longest days I had since I came here – although I am supposed to have no classes on Fridays! From 9 am, meetings and workshops followed one another, including an exhausting 4-hour workshop on SPSS that left my head spinning for the rest of the day. The last thing on my crazy agenda was a work group meeting that went from 6 to 8 pm, leading me to break my fast on the library’s exit stairs :)
But that day was one of the longest also in terms of the distance I walked. Those who know me would know that I’m not a big fan of walking. But when you study in a 21 km² campus, you do have to learn to love walking, or you will end up hating yourself! Of course I didn’t have to walk across all the 21 km², and will never have I guess/I hope XD, but I do have long walks though to go from a building to another (5 or 6 different places they were that day).
Talking about long and short walks, I always wonder why globalization only touched - and blatantly unified - important things like traditions, tastes and life styles - whole identities, but left out a few annoying things like the units of measurement in some countries like the United States!
Since the day I set foot here, I've been trying (not always hard though) to get the sense of what it means when somebody says that I have to walk “2 miles” to reach a place, or when they say that the university’s secondary campus in Detroit is 75 miles from East Lansing. Does that mean close or far? You will tell me that all I need to do is convert those units into meters and kilometers. Yes I can. But it’s really annoying – although funny sometimes – when you have to stop every time somebody describes a distance and ask yourself “Euuuh wait, does this mean that I can walk or should I take the bus?”
Weight and volume units are also misleading me here. When I go to the market, the prices posted simply don’t mean anything to me. What do I learn when I see that Goodrich’s sells apples for $3 lb, or green beans for $1.49 lb? Is that cheep or expensive? Euuuh and what does it mean to buy a 2-gallon milk bottle?
And I’d rather not talk about the weird numbers I would get if I try to know my weight or my height here. Oh and mind you, I’ve experienced 80-degrees hot days here … of course Fahrenheit not Celsius – otherwise I would have melted - literally!! (Ugh!!)
Anyway, I guess that this is part of that “adjustment” period all new comers here have to go through. I should probably start looking for, and concentrating on the bright side of things to be able to survive. Here at least, where I have trouble with units of measurements, all I need is time (and some quick brain calculations) until I get used to them. The bright side of it is that the risks I’m taking because of this (like walking a long distance instead of taking a bus) are nothing compared to a more serious (and not funny at all) risk I would have had if I were in England for example: getting hit by a car simply because I’m used to look to the right not to the left before I cross the road!!
Friday, September 12, 2008
It feels weird not to hear adhan announce iftar time, weird not to see restaurants close during the day, weird not to see totally empty streets at sunset, and not to see drivers lose their minds a few minutes before sunset, trying get home before Iftar. .
But it feels so special though to see one meal bring together people from all over the world. Pakistanis, Indians, Sudanese, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Kazazkhs, Maleisians… and a Moroccan gather in one place these days, share their first meal of the day, and the joy of learning things about each other .
To all Muslims around the globe I wish a blessed Ramadan.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Differences, faces, colors, names, sounds, questions and answers, smiles, meaningful sometimes, meaningless most for the time. Intrusions, apologies, misunderstandings, understanding, fake at times, real at others.
Respect, gazes, stereotypes, silenced or masked. Languages, reflections, tastes, traditions, religions, habits, so different sometimes, so alike some others.
But aren’t we one after all??