Somehow I let almost a month go by without a post. Oops. Posts will be frequent for a couple days.
Aside from walking out of the Abu Dhabi airport with all of my luggage and feeling like I’d entered a sauna (really, it was that humid), my first impressions of the city were mostly of the main NYU building, which houses all the student dorms, various offices, some classrooms, and all of the staff and faculty housing. The cab ride from the airport offered a few sights — the beautiful Zayed Mosque, a newly opened bridge, some skyscrapers — but it was dark and I couldn’t really get a sense of the city.
Some staff member greeted me warmly and handed over a welcome package, as two others helped me with luggage and escorted me upstairs. 1720 graced the large wooden door.
The studio apartment was surprisingly large, and surprisingly nice.
A king size bed dominates the main room, but is somewhat balanced by a couch and two chairs, and a dining table across the room. The kitchen is very large for a studio (I have the biggest one out of anyone in my position here at NYUAD) — 4 top range, oven, microwave, a wide peninsula for chopping and prep. A spacious full bath tops it off (nice shower).
I’ve been quite happy with the room — its overall square footage is smaller than some of the other studios, but it’s almost better that way. The big kitchen more than makes up for it.
Despite claiming to be fully furnished, I did have to buy frying pans, a nice chef’s knife, and lots of other kitchen stuff (big coffee cups!). But cooking has been really great here; I’ve tried lots of new recipes with local ingredients (tons of new lentils, spices, etc.). On top of that, we get a full meal plan, so I don’t have to bother making lunch, and anytime I don’t feel like cooking there’s food downstairs.
Grocery availability is actually quite good here, better than in Argentina. The nearby store has an excellent selection of basics and a short cab ride to Spinney’s will get you any Western food cravings (chips, Ben & Jerry’s, pork products AKA pounds and pounds of bacon).
What I’ve realized is that this is very much a shopping culture — weekend trips to the various malls are a major pastime here. The luxury, particularly in Dubai, is striking; in one store, I saw a $100,000 Blancpain watch. That mall — the world’s largest — also contains a full size ice rink, an aquarium, and an indoor theme park. Perhaps not a surprise when you consider that the UAE GDP per capita is close to $50,000 (the US comes in at ~$47,000).
More to come…