Monday, December 27, 2010

Um, Merry Christmas?

So here we are, two days after Christmas, and it's hard to remember a)that it is and has been the Christmas season and b)that in other parts of the world it's winter time, and, you know, cold. The weather here is lovely, which is one of the only positives I can come up with at the moment.

We are losing staff left and right at school, which is hard, so we're all taking more and more classes. People are also sick a lot, so we're covering extra classes for them as well. The disaster continues, and we're not looking forward to the end result of everything. Finals are coming up though and then we have a vacation, which is also very exciting. I think that I'm going to end up staying in-country again, and will try to do more traveling around Saudi.

I've had some very interesting discussions with my girls these last few days that have ranged from whether school uniforms should be required to whether it's better to be single or married. We had a raging debate today about which came first, the chicken or the egg. It was quite funny, actually. I wish that they were as passionate about grammar as they were about their discussion. We've also had some interesting talks about Islam, and their attitudes towards Shi'as (negative) as well as the ins and outs of the marriage process in Saudi (complicated). Every day's an education on both sides, that's for sure.

Christmas has been interesting, with attitudes ranging from open to very very closed. Some seem to completely refuse to acknowledge it or take part in any sort of celebration because, "If we celebrate, it means we believe, and we don't believe." That's a whole debate in and of itself. Others of my students and fellow teachers were saying Merry Christmas and were very conscientious of the holidays. Huh. Shwaya-shwaya, I guess. Anyways, Happy Holidays to my people everywhere!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Do they know it's Christmas?

Please notice that Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is not on this list.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


What a week! It's been midterm time, and wowee zowee what a mess. We got the wrong exam for my level, so there were lots of frantic phone calls and grading and giving another exam and more grading. Needless to say, my girls did significantly better taking a test on material they had seen before than on stuff that was completely new to them! I was so worried yesterday when I gave them the new exam that they would do even worse than on the first one! But they came through just fine, and I was never so proud! It's funny, because I have a new co-teacher, so she's usually taught in the pm, while I have the am. Now we do half and half to cut down on our planning, but we still refer to each group as "my girls" and "your girls". So as I was cross grading the exams, I was looking to see how my girls compared to hers. She won for the top grade, but I think overall mine did better, so I'm quite pleased!! :)

Anyways, all of this combined with some outside stressors made for quite a week. I've never been so happy to see the weekend as I am here. I can't believe we were on vacation just a couple weeks ago! I need another one!

Last weekend we enjoyed the hospitality of a friend and went to a Christmas party. It was like a little slice of home, which was really cool. And I got to play a piano!!! :) We also went traipsing through the desert again, and enjoyed some Christmas carols and meeting new and special people. It's always an adventure! Oh oh oh, I saw my first scorpion! I hope to God it'll be my last one too. It was kind of see through and green and alien-looking. Yikes! To go for the hike, we gather in one area of the city, and then people with cars who are heading out for the hike pick people up who need rides. My last driver was about an 80 year old German who loved to chat. He was super interesting though, having built many of the desalinization plants here inside the Kingdom.

This weekend should be fun, though I must confess, I am planning on sleeping in tomorrow!! Oh boy, I can't wait! As I was turning off my alarm at 6am this morning, I just lay there and thought about how much I dislike getting up that early. The sun wasn't even up! Lame. Then I thought, oh boy...another 8 months of this. Then I thought about how much I admire people in the public school system who get up that early and then teach ALL DAY. Wow. I don't think I could do it.

The pictures are from when I was in Al-Khobar, on the east coast of the peninsula. Yup, I've touched all sides of the Arabian peninsula. Check that one off the bucket list. :) Bahrain is in the haze behind me. It's as close to the outside world as I'm going to get for a while!