Where East meets West. This often-used tagline was the first thing that caught my rather scattered attention as I entered the gates of the American University of Sharjah for the first time. The palatial designs, the vast campus and the very formally informal atmosphere of the place was in itself unnerving.
Needless to say, I got lost.
The details of the variety of places I ended up in are strictly confidential (weird storerooms, even a toilet). And no, I will not be bribed for details. Okay, maybe a Subway cookie might help.
When I finally managed to get hold of someone, I asked in a rush, “Hicouldyoutellmewheretheofficeofadmissionsis?” I still remember the look she gave me. I calmed down and asked, “Could you tell me where the office of admissions is?” The look that I got then was somewhere between pathetic meets condescension that seemed to say, “Aww! Another new admission!”
With my new-found knowledge, I managed to locate the Office of Admissions in a few minutes (which by the way, was in the same building I was walking up and down in. Anyway, moving on…)
This building was called the Main building as I later found out. The Main building is where most of the non-academic related departments are located, like the IT Department, a wonderfully stocked Library (where much library-ing doesn’t happen) the little booth that says ‘Information’ (the guy in it never seems to move) and the Cashier (with a really long south-Indian name).
What struck me the first time I entered the main building was the big beautiful circular space right in the centre of it. This circular space is called the Rotunda and is used as a way of directing confused freshmen like yours truly.
How can our very own Student Centre be forgotten? A canteen of sorts, this awesome building is where the average students (well, the freshmen especially) spend most of their first year whining about professors and grade curving, midterms and quizzes and why they’d kill to go back to school. Apart from all this whining the Student Centre is where most freshmen like me had our first memorable moments; making friends, getting to know people and cautiously trying to step out of that little bubble we all live in.
Apart from the huge campus and the whole physical structure of AUS, what sets it apart is the diverse range of people from different ethnic cultures. I just sounded like a talking history textbook there for a while, didn’t I? The percentage of students from the GCC countries itself is a whopping 80%. Asians take up a 13% and the remaining 7% is taken up by Americans, Canadians, and the likes. A little ironic don’t you think? (AMERICAN University of Sharjah)
As far as the clubs are concerned, a special mention must be made of two clubs in particular. I’m pretty sure all the other clubs will not send out quotations for me if I may be as brave as to say that the Indian Cultural Club and The Pakistani Cultural Club (the ICC and PCC respectively, a big deal to know these short forms as I got to know a few weeks into my first semester) are two of the most colorful groups among all the clubs. This is evident particularly during the Global Day held every Spring semester. On this day, every cultural club competes for The Global Day Trophy. Spanning over two days, Global Day is easily the most awaited event of the year. The ICC and PCC, true to their umm, traditions, (?) aren’t the best-est of friends, especially as we near THE ‘G’ Day. The commotion and hooting that can be heard is inexplicable. I think at one point, someone even yelled “I am Indian!” but then again, that could just be the voices in my head.
The American University of Sharjah will always be the place I had the first of my many revelations; you are what you want to be. Tomorrow, if I’d want to change my major from Mass Communication to Engineering (when pigs fly, that is) I can, because that is what I want to do. I also can because that sort of option is available and the nicest part is that the availability of that option is encouraged and no one would judge or argue that you conform to your selected stereotype. This university has taught me something even more valuable; it has helped me come into my own and be my own person.
Well, this is Maria, Signing off, from where camels are the ships of desert.