Monday, 7 October 2013

Princess Noura University

The university where I am working is an all-women university.  You won’t see a man on the complex but lurking on the levels underground, a colony of men run around furiously mending machines and doing other manly things with electricity, plumbing and security.  It is huge, I mean really huge.  I think you can even see it from outer-space - just kidding.  I can’t help but to be thrilled to be working here.  No tatty run-down buildings for me.  New and sparkling, state of the art, flag-ship university for women. 

There is an outer ring to the university which consists of a complex system of roads that will take you to the specific area you wished to visit.  This is where the fountains and the greenery are as well as the security guards who direct the heavy traffic.  It is the size of a large town.

One of the university buildings

It has its own transport system, a series of mono-rails, linking the different campuses and this is the landmark you aim for.  “Station A5”.  “Station side or pavilion side?”  There are two buildings to each station connected to each other by a bridge so that you can safely cross the busy road in between, 3 lanes of solid traffic going in each direction.  Canny drivers arrange drop-offs and pick-ups from the less busy pavilion side.

Finding our way to the campus
The monorail rail runs through the university

Traffic worsens as we get nearer the stations
The traffic is terrible – everyone is being picked up and dropped off at the same time.

Men are forbidden to enter
Entrance to the actual campus is through the mono rail stations and there is a sign on the door to remind unsuspecting males that this is a women-only building. 

Abayas are in fact banned inside the campus and so as you walk through these doors you are confronted with a couple of hundred young women removing their abayas and niqabs and putting them into their bags.  Some are only now applying their makeup but for many their makeup (which would put an air-hostess to shame) has already been applied.  They are busy chatting and talking on their phones and leisurely walking to through to their lessons.  Leisurely is the operative word here – you never see anyone break into a trot to get to a lesson on time.

I am more used to the layout of the buildings now.  At first I would wander down the corridors unable to find anywhere for literally hours now I just wander for minutes.  The trouble is that all the corridors look the same and all buildings look the same and it really is difficult to know which building and sometimes which floor you are on and even if you can do that it is easy to mistake the direction you are going in and you have to re-trace your route again.  I work across 3 buildings, the management were in the first building, my office and where you sign in and out in the second building and then the third building is where I teach.  My day was spent trailing from one building to the other.  I walked miles each day.  Not forgetting the stations of course which are situated between buildings all important to know where and at what time you are being picked up for your ride home.

My office only 1 door key and no cupboard keys for the 2 of us.
I had a little notebook where I wrote down routes and landmarks.  I still got lost because I would write down how to get to a place from one place but if I was coming from a different direction then my notes were not a lot of help.  So I added extra detail.  Then they changed my office, where we could sign in and out and I changed to teach level 2 which meant I had a different set of managers and a new class room.  Ho hum.

Walkway to the back row of buildings.

The 2nd floor
Walkway to the next building running alongside the mono-rail
The outside walk way
The buildings are very modern but are still being finished.  Naturally the courtyards and gardens are last to be completed so it is a bit barren.  But I will hopefully be here long enough to see the improvements.

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