Friends and family have been asking me what a typical day is like at KAUST. I usually blog mostly about my travels and adventures but I will give you guys a little insight about my normal life.
This semester, I am enrolled in classes. I am currently taking Genomics (meets twice a week for 1.5 hours), Marine Life (meets once a week for 3 hours) and Oceanography (meers once a week for 3 hours). I am also enrolled in “Graduate Seminar” which is a research presentation that lasts an hour every other week. The last class I am enrolled in is “Directed Research” which I am doing with a post-doc in my lab. So as you can imagine I have a lot of free time. I am typically the kind of person who likes to follow a routine and keep busy, so I have joined quite a few clubs and usually make it to the gym every day. I’d also like to add that midterms are now over, so for a few days I was stressed and studying hard in the library all night and day, but as I said, they’re over now and life is good. Out of all my classes Genomics is the one I had the least background in. Often times I sit in class and half the material goes over my head, so I knew I had to really study if I was to do okay. It also definitely helped me that the research I am doing this semester involved sequencing, PCR, DNA extraction, ect. so that all relates to the class. I actually just got my exam grade back and I got an A! Woo, so if you think I am just slacking off having fun all the time, know that you are only a little bit correct.
This semester one of my favorite new activities is hula dancing. There is a woman here who was in a hula halau before KAUST, and she knows quite a bit about the culture, language, and dance, which is awesome! We meet twice a week and techniques in traditional Hawaii hula, modern hula, and even Tahitian! It is a blast. I look forward to is every single Sunday and Tuesday night. It is located in the Island Recreational Center, which is where the super nice pool is, so now I always go swimming after class. Hula is from 8-9:15 PM, and then I swim until around 10 PM. I always leave the pool so relaxed, happy, and energetic. I am so used to swimming in indoor swimming pools, so it really is a treat for me to swim underneath a full moon and starry sky, its amazing! My hula teacher, Louisa, created a blog for our hula class. If you would like to read about what we are up to check it out here.
Another one of my favorite things about KAUST is the number of clubs and activities you can be in. Another one of my favorites is Art Perspective. We meet every other week for three hours and they bring free canvas, acrylic, and oil painting supplies, and we have the freedom to draw and paint whatever we want! I have always found painting and art super relaxing, and a great way to focus my creative energy, but I hardly every have time to sit down and do art. So since coming to KAUST I have been absolutely loving painting, I even have a watercolor set and try to paint at least once a week!
KAUST also has a fine arts club that does tons of classes. these have a fee of around 80 SAR each ($20) but include materials so its worth it. Some of the options are book making, jewelry making, ceramics, sewing ect. I used to love doing blacksmithing and jewelry making in high school, so it will be great to return to this hobby. I have never done ceramics in my life, but there is a studio here with the spinning tables and everything, so might as well join now right?
In the Island Recreation Center, there’s a large photography studio where the photo club meets. They have weekly activities, for example this week they are going into the Kaust Economic City to go go-carting and take action photos. A totally separate club is the underwater photography club. I love photography, I love being underwater, so really this is the perfect club for me. I also happen to have a brand new amazing camera so I am so excited to get to learn how to use it more and improve my skills. KAUST also funded about 4 camera systems (camera, housing, and strobes). One of which is super nice (around $30,000 total) with a macro lens and wide angle lens, that we are allowed to borrow any time we want. This is super cool, I would be a little bit scared of breaking it, but still awesome that that’s an option! This club will also have field trips to go diving so we can all take photos together (for free) so definitely a great club for me. Being a member of this is how I found out about a diving liveaboard to Yanbu that I went on a few weeks ago. It was the most amazing diving of my life, I will definitely blog about it soon, stay tuned!
If that’s not enough activities, there are also fun activities like bowling, and the movie theater. Both of these are 5 SAR $1.30, so they are a great way to spend an evening. The movie theater is really nice, they show only 2 movies at a time but switch them up every week. Some movies I have watched here are Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets (honestly I highly recommend this movie) and also the Hitman’s Bodyguard. Oh also, I found out that I am seriously terrible at bowling…but it is fun nonetheless.
I am used to always having a million jobs and always working. But at Kaust because I am getting paid to be a student, I am not allowed to hold a job (like lifeguarding or working in the cafes or library ect) but I started to tutor an adorable 10 year old that lives here. There is another Marine Science student who has been tutoring, but she will be gradating in December so I took over her tutoring family. It is for an hour twice a week, so not a huge commitment. Also, as most of you probably know, I really really really miss my dog. I looked into fostering a dog temporarily while I am here at Kaust, but unfortunately there are no dogs allowed in our shared housing (boooo) but I did meet a girl here who is a live-in nanny, and she often dogsits while families go on vacation, so she said she is going to introduce me to some of these families so I can walk their dog or help out with dogsitting! YAY!! Alsooo guys I will be coming back to Hawaii from December 23-January 10th…so if you need a babysitter or dogsitter let me know! I need traveling money.
Also- another “fun fact” that many of you probably don’t know is that the weekends here are Friday and Saturday, and then the workweek is Sunday-Thursday. I don’t think I will ever get used to this! So today is Wednesday but really tomorrow is Thursday (“Friday”) so it is all very strange.
A “typical” day consists of me waking up, making breakfast (vegan baked oatmeal with coconut and pomegranate YUM), going to the lab and doing work for a few hours, going to class, and then after class I like to nap/make dinner, and then head to the gym. Then on the weekends I try to do one fun activity (like snorkel or dive). Ohhhh, this weekend I am scuba diving but then the weekend after that I am thinking about taking windsurfing lessons that they have right on campus at the beach!
Also, a substantial portion of my typical day is spent of me daydreaming about places to travel while I am at school in Kaust. I have quite an extensive list, including seeing Petra in Jordan, and exploring Turkey, I want to dive in Port Sudan and Egypt, as well as seeing the pyramids. I want to go to South Africa next summer to scuba dive the sardine run (which attracts 1,000s of dolphins, whales, and sharks!). This winter I am headed to Bali, Indonesia for some diving and adventuring. I am also pretty sure I am headed to East Saudi in a few weekends to go camping and sand-duning in the massive desert. SO much to look forward to! Thanks for reading!