September 2011


I’m all moved in and here are the pictures to prove it. I now am a resident of the Walton Building. I am still on my college’s main site, but a different building, one with much better sound absorption.

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Yes, my quest to see all the Oxford colleges and halls resumed this week! Aren’t you excited. I know I was! And to top it all off, I toured one of the private, all-male halls – Saint Benet’s Hall. How you may ask? Well, Oxford had an Open Day, so a number of colleges and halls were open to the public and perspective students.

St. Benet’s Hall, as mentioned above, is one of the few remaining single sex halls at Oxford. The last women only halls became co-ed in the 1990s, but there are a few all male halls left. They are centred around a specific Roman Catholic monastic order, such as the Benedictine and Cistercian for St. Benet’s. The halls actually models the original Oxford college system with a group of students gathering together around a Master of Arts. This does keep the halls small with approximately fifty students, but there is a greater sense of community and the hall boasts a strong vertical peer group that many of the large colleges do not have.

The Hall was founded in 1897 so the monks of Ampleforth Abbey could read for degrees at the University. The Hall still has monks in residence and it focuses studies in the humanities area. If you are curious, they do have female fellows (professors, because undergraduate education is done through in colleges/halls). Their student’s study: Theology; Philosophy and Theology; Theology and Oriental Studies; History; History and Politics; History and Economics; Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Classics; Oriental Studies (Egyptology, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Hebrew Studies, and Jewish Studies only); and Classics and Oriental Studies.

Ummm…my new favorite place! Love it!

The last weekend I was in Tunisia, I went into the city centre. I did not visit the main avenue or the medina during this trip because I studied Arabic for the bulk of the day, I explored the medina pretty well during my last visit, and also because of some of the unrest and protest that occurred in that area while I was there.

Many people ask me about the changes in Tunisia. I usually talk about the change in morale and hope as well as the fears and real threats. But for me, this part of Tunisia was the area that actually looked most different. Tunisia as a country has changed mostly in spirit; however, Habib Bourguiba Avenue looks different. Marquees are still broken, razor wire still surrounds government buildings, tanks and armed guards are still posted along the street. It is here one can actually see that the revolution is still happening. The revolution is still quite alive.

So after the wedding last weekend, my teacher took me on a whirlwind tour of the Roman city of Dougga. Dougga is one of the largest, if not the largest, excavation site in Tunisia. The city sits upon a hill-top where all can see the glory and power of Rome. My little Lonely Planet tells me that the site has been occupied since the 2nd millennium BCE due to the fertile land and natural springs, but know as Thugga when it was a Numidian town. The Romans took over and created the city of Dougga after the last Numidian king failed to support the “right” side in the Roman Civil War.

This area became the bread basket for the Romans, so it was a sprawling city removed from the coast with around 5,000 citizens. It also had a very large wealthy population. The size of houses and number of upper class homes along all the temples, baths, and other amenities for the rich go to show that the Romans living here, lived well.

This past weekend, one of my Arabic teachers invited me to his brother’s wedding. It was in a village in the Northwest of Tunisia near Dougga. It was quite an experience and one that I have wanted since I came here in 2009. I can tell you more about it later, but here are some pictures!

You Know You’ve Been Living in Tunisia When…

You walk down the middle of the street when there is a perfectly good sidewalk next to you.

You stop to have a staring contest with a cat sitting on a wall.

You think it is okay to go to the beach when it s 40 degrees, but not 42. Now that is just TOO hot.

You make the comment, “…but it is a dry heat” about the south.

You ignore all comments by men on the street even when they are your friends yelling your name.

You are surprised to see a dog as a pet.

You are way too excited to see the man cafés back open and a dude eating a sandwich on the street after Ramadan.

You’ve actually never see the Pharmacie de Nuit open.

You are fully prepared to have a rumble when someone steps in front of you and takes your taxi.

Your options for a swimming suit are a burkini or bikini. No seriously.

You come to expect eating dates with dinner.

You have a favourite muezzin.

Your Google is in French and your Bing is in Arabic and somehow you still find what you need.

You talk about Orange and are not referring to the fruit or colour.

You ask for something or say something in Arabic and the Tunisian person responds in French, even after you say in Arabic that you are not French, you don’t speak French, and you can speak a little Arabic.

You are genuinely shocked to see a cloud.

Your have the complete opposite mentality about skin colour as Tunisian women. They try to have alabaster skin and you try to have goddess golden brown skin.

You really believe every food item can have harass in or on it in some way, shape, or form. This rule also applies with eggs.

You love the Arab man dance and their confidence to get up and dance in a huge group without any women. Western men, take a hint.

You make a joke about Leïla with anyone and suddenly you have a sense of comradeship.

You talk about the shiny scarves and every woman in earshot totally knows what you’re talking about and where to buy them.

You  have a favourite Tunisian beach list that includes clarity of water, cleanliness of beach, location, crowds, cost of umbrellas, and several other factors.

You go to Zephyr and don’t get wind-blown, but actually enjoy the AC and escalators.

You judge hanuts that don’t sell Coke Light or Coke Zero.

You know vast quantities of yogurt are consumed in this country because it is sold everywhere, but you’ve never seen someone eating yogurt.

You go to Carrfour to shop at Mango.

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