Today was the first day of my class, "Teaching Middle Eastern History Using Arab Fiction," and as usual on the first day of any class I have ever taken or any new situation I find myself in, my stomach was in complete knots as soon as I got up this morning. To start off with, I wasn't totally awake. I have been going to bed late and sleeping in late for the last week or so, and getting up at 6:45 was somewhat grueling. But I made it up, dressed, and out, and then remembered that I had to have $12 to pay for parking (!!!!!!!!!!!) so I had to stop by the bank. I finally got on the freeway, and while traffic was not great, it was SO much better than when I had to go to AP training that I will just deal with it. I was going to a different part of Seattle that I had never been to before, so I went back and forth between 2 different maps at traffic lights and finally made it. I'm sure the parking attendant thought I was a complete moron, as I hassled her with questions, but she was very nice, and I eventually made my way to the building I was supposed to be in. Now, some of you went to ACU and some did not, but UW is so pretty! The buildings are old and some are gothic looking, and of course, none are air conditioned, but it is just beautiful. It sits right on the banks of Lake Washington, and you couldn't ask for a more beautiful campus.
Except....there are about 15,000 sidewalks going evey possible angle and direction. If there is a space of grass, there are also 8 sidewalks dividing it in every possible way. I know it is wet here, and I'm sure they do it to keep the grass looking nice but still. And then, in the middle of campus, is about an acre and a half (nope, not kidding) of solid brick. It's a giant courtyard paved with red bricks. Now I like red bricks, but wow...there are a lot of bricks. And it is right in front of the aforementioned gothic-looking library with these flying buttresses and spiky things all over it, and it just.....doesn't match. I know that's a weird thing to say, but that is the best way I can describe it. You can see the outside of the building in this picture, and a little bit of the courtyard in front of it.
I continued walking, and made it to class. There are only 5 people in this class, and I am not sure how I made in into the class. Everyone else seems like they know a whole lot more than I do, and I'm the youngest by at least 10 years. I do know I'm not the awkward one though, there is a lady there who taught in Pakistan for 8 years (now that's brave) and it seems like she has some odd ideas about Islam and the Quran and stuff. She kind of sometimes argued with the professor. Awkward....=)
We discussed Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf (still my favorite of the books we read) and mostly just sat around and talked about wherever our discussion took us. We talked a lot about marriage and the difference between marriage in Islam and Judaism (contract between 2 men or 2 families) and Christianity (three way contract between God, man, and woman) and how that affects divorce in the different societies. Very interesting and not something I had considered before. It is nice that the professor, despite being a professor specializing in mideast studies, specifically Egypt, is very respectful of Christianity. This is not something that happens very often here. Anyway, the discussion was interesting, the people in class are knowledgeable, and I think this will be a great couple of weeks!
PS...On the way out, I got my $12 parking fee back because it is paid for by the people offering the class, but how it works is I pay $12 when I go in, and I get $12 back when I leave. You'd think there would be an easier way of doing it.