So I have been posting pictures, most of which have been outside of campus, so I understand the confusion on what my daily life is like. I will start by the dresscode, around the community (apartments, shops, restaurants, recreational facilities, ect) it is a little lenient, but I try to cover my knees and shoulders (although shorts and tank tops are acceptable in the community but not necessarily recommended. So, more on the “community” of Kaust… I wills tart talking about my apartment. All students (Masters and PhD) have free housing when they attend the school. And the apartments are beautiful! I created a little video of what my apartment looks like if you want to check out my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENIJTr2jjOM&t=186s.
My apartment is two floors, my roommate (a PhD student from Saudi named Maha) lives upstairs where there is a bedroom and bathroom. We share a kitchen and huge living room/ dining room with high ceilings, so it really is roomy. Another huge perk of these apartments is that almost everything is included. From the paintings on the wall, to all the furniture, pots and pans, bedding, TV, ect. So I really didn’t need to buy too much. Not to mention our two week orientation included all three meals of the day! So all I bought was laundry and dish soup, shampoo and conditioner, a hamper, and a few more dishes. I love my room, it has two large closets and a lot of natural lighting, I just need a mattress pad because my current one, although it is brand new, is a bit too firm for my liking.
My house is located pretty close to the yacht club (where recreational snorkeling, diving, and fishing trips go out of). There is also a huge restaurant here called the Al Marsa, which is higher end dining but they have an affordable brunch on the weekends. It is also important to note that weekends here are different. It’s weird to get used to but we have Friday and Saturdays as weekends, and then classes start again on Sunday. This si true for much of the middle east, not just Kaust campus. You can read about all the country’s different workweeks here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workweek_and_weekend. Anyways, I have been here two weeks and still haven’t dove in the Red Sea! To change that I just signed up for an all day dive this weekend! I am so excited :). The trip is from 9-4 PM, so it is a long day, but should be a lot of fun! The price is 175 SAR, or about $45 USD. So the prices are not outrageous but not super cheap either. It does include food and drink for the day, but it helps I brought all my equipment so I don’t have to pay for rentals! I will most definitely be blogging about my first dive, so stay tuned!
I am super impressed by the recreational facilities at KAUST. I have always loved working out but I never want to pay for a gym membership. In Hawaii I always went hiking or freediving as exercise, but considering its like 95 degrees every day, I have no issue going to the fancy little gyms they have on campus. There’s three gyms on campus. One at the Island Recreation Center, about 3/4 miles from my place. It has a smaller gym but the pool there is amazing!! There’s a kiddie pool, a full-sized lap swim pool, an infinity pool, and a beach with tiki hut cabanas. And the best part of the pools here is that they are chilled! I am so used to swimming indoors in Maine and Pennsylvania that swimming outside is so new and so amazing to me! I can get some serious sunshine without getting hot, it is so nice! Not to mention that it is always empty. Even on the weekends I had the entire pool to myself, even at like 11 AM! Also, forgot to mention that all of the gyms are separated by gender. At first I thought that was a bit strange but after 5 minuted I got used to it. The gyms are separated because Muslim women wear an abaya and hijab around men that are not in their family, so in these separated gyms they can wear whatever, which is pretty cool! Anyways, this island Rec Center also has a bowling alley, climbing wall, badminton, squash courts, kick boxing room, cycling room, yoga studio, dance studios, ect. Eventually I do want to join some of these classes but I figure I will sign up after i have better sense of my schedule and free time.
The gym that’s closer to my house is called the Harbor Rec Center. This has a larger gym, and right outside of the female gym is a female only lap swimming pool. This rec center also has a mixed pool that’s a bit larger but the female pool is literally right outside the gym so way more convenient. I can workout and do my thing then change out into my swim suit, do some laps, lounge in the sun, then shower. life is pretty good. This rec center also has a bowling alley, dive center, photography studio, and a Harbor restaurant (with a beautiful view). The last gym is in the campus area, so I will touch on that later!
Now to the dining options on campus. The main area is known as “Discovery Square”. This is where the housing office is, the bank, a mini-mart (called the small Tamimi), a Quiznos, Baskins Robbins, a Saudi restaurant, a pizza place, a Coffee Bean, Burger King, and other restaurants like that. This is also where the cinema is. This movie theater is a big deal because there’s only one other in the entire country. Across the street is a market that sells a ton of fruits, veggies, and grains (in bulk!).
In walking distance there is also a larger super market that sells food, kitchen supplies, office supplies, ect. Next store do that is a gas station and bike store. The other main area on campus is known as the “harbor” this is pretty new but so so beautiful. There is a bunch of seating, a library, Coldstone, Dominos, a syrian sweet shop, a Japanese restaurant, an Italian Restaurant, and a Mexican Restaurant. That being said I haven’t tried a single restaurant on campus because I am trying to save money to travel. I have booked a 10-day trip to Oman with my marine science friend here, Ann Marie! We plan on doing some diving, checking out a turtle nesting site, road trip, camping, hiking! I am beyond excited. This is for EID, a holiday here that means no classes for an entire week! So I will head out on August 31st!!
Now before I head to bed I do have to touch on the academic campus. Most students dress a bit nicer on campus, definitely covered shoulders and knees, but we are supposed to dress business casual (which I am pretty bad at). On this side of campus there is a huge library overlooking the Red Sea, a museum, the dining hall, the IT store, government affairs, the cell-phone store, academic buildings, an art studio, tons more restaurants/shops, another gym. This is also where the marine science lab is, called the Red Sea Research Center. I still am not certain what research I will be doing for my degree, but this first semester I will be shadowing several people to get a sense of what I am interested in. For classes, in addition to Directed Research, I am enrolled in Genomics, Marine Life, Oceanography, and seminar. I am so excited to see where this semester leads!