Now, we have the administration building. It boasts high decorative ceilings, well-kept and clean and extensively gorgeous and huge gardens and courtyard! I felt like an ant when I was there. I noticed one cool thing. On the map placard posted on the wall, showed the locations of where one would want to go such as registration, dean’s office, and admissions. Then, I saw that there was a royal kitchen and it was underground 2 floors. I was so tempted to go there. For those of you who know me, I love royalty, princes, princesses and fairy-tales. It was kind of coming alive for me at this moment. Not that there were any people of royalty there or any fancy event at that time but the fact that I was there made it exciting for me.
PNU is like a palace made for the woman to look beautiful all day long and to roam about the gardens and study in style with the latest technology under teachers with the sexiest of English accents. Built on a massive piece of land that is bigger than a small village, it is literally home to more than 60,000 students and staff making it the world’s largest female university.
I briefly visited the grand library and my jaw dropped. It’s like an upscale museum with artifacts from the past and pieces of the Kaaba. Really, it’s something to see. The lobby is grand. It’s like a 5 star hotel lobby. They also brag about the Saudi Digital Library which is open to the public, fantastic for lovers of research and classical texts, which has many subscriptions such as McGraw Hill, Cambridge, and renown disciplines. They also have some of the classical texts and original manuscripts of famous classical scholars like ibn Jawziyah and such. I didn’t have the time to finish exploring the library but I will get to it when I can.
The expats who often come to Saudi Arabia thinking that it should be exactly like their own country are honestly setting themselves up for sadness. It is obvious that it will not be the same which is why it is another country- hence, another culture, tradition and language. At the same time, in my opinion, it is not any less than a western country and in fact, in many areas it is better. So again, no country is perfect. Every place has its pros and cons. You must consider the pros and cons for any country and what best suits you and what you are willing to compromise with. If you can't compromise with much, then perhaps its better to look for work in your own country where you can be happy. In terms of luxury for the average Western teacher, it’s better here than it is in the West, hands down. Also, people are very kind and generous which is something not very common to this extent in the West.
Some of the most incredible things about teaching Saudi students is learning about their culture. I think it’s overlooked how much westerners don’t know about their culture and tradition. For example, in every class that I have taught over the past few years, each class had about 2-4 hafizes – a woman who has the whole Quran memorized by heart. They often are the best students in class and knowledgeable about the world. It makes my day when a student tells me how big her family is and when I ask her, how big (which often comes when I teach grammar 101). These students are like ‘I have 18-25 brothers and sisters!’ I am like WOW! You have no idea the conversations and questions that do come up during those lessons. Those are the most exciting lessons! Also, you can expect to find that at least 2 -3 of your students are the descendants of a 7th, 8th or 9th century scholar and they can trace their lineage all the way back. Now that’s some pretty cool stuff for any historian.