Still no internet connection at home. I called on Saturday to find out why 3 to 4 days had become 11 days and was informed that my application had been canceled because I applied for a type of internet not available in my building. The customer service rep told me to come down to adjust the application. After waiting in three different lines for a total of about 2 hours I was told that my application shouldn't have been canceled, the service I applied for is available and and that they would have internet for me in 3 to 4 days. I also got my ATM card for my bank account and arranged for water to be delivered to our place (after two weeks of being told "today") so I felt that Saturday was pretty productive.
Friday is the beginning of the weekend. That combined with Ramadan means that not may stores were open on Friday. Each store determines it's own hours during Ramadan, so there's no telling when things are open. That made sofa shopping annoying and necessitated two trips to the mall to come home with some comfortable chairs. IKEA was open a good part of the day and is conveniently located next to the Men's Prayer Room which is a common feature in most public places.
I was able to get a long cycle in on Friday morning and a reasonable swim on Saturday. Since there's no eating and drinking in public, that made an 85 kilometer bike ride in 90 degree heat a bit of a challenge. When we got to the break point after an hour of cycling, we all just drank our water and ate our energy bars behind the gas station next to the exit fan of the air conditioners. We were able to take sneaky drinks the rest of the time when there were no cars around, but we still had to be careful.
This paragraph is for my biking friends. If you have no interest in biking, feel free to skip to the following paragraph. I felt that this week I was able to keep up much better. Having my bike computer working also gave me an idea of what to expect. Up until the break we kept it between 32 - 34 km/hour bust everyone took off at what I found out later was over 40 km/hour. For the first 70 km, I averaged just over 30 km/hour but after that, I hit a wall and was struggling at around 26km/hour. I can really feel the difference on my new bike. On the hybrid, the only time I ever saw it go over 40 kph was on a steep downhill, but I was able to get to 40 fairly easily on the new bike. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up the pace the whole ride next week.
Today was the first day of classes. While I've had a few negative things to say about Ramadan, having shortened classes is definitely a bonus. I felt that teaching from 9:40 until 12:15 was a good way to start out the semester. tomorrow I teach from 9:00 until 12:15 (fairly close to my hours at Fukuoka University). On non-Ramadan days, I'll be teaching either from 8:00 to 12:45 of 8:55 to 12:45. I feel I got lucky in having my classes together. However, they are all pushed together with no breaks so that might not be that great. I teach five different groups and I see each of them twice a week. The technology in each of the rooms is pretty impressive with an internet connection and smart board in each room. I can basically bring up a web page and physically press the board to show the students where to to click and have the page advance. I can also write on the screen. For a demo of a smart board, look at the first two minutes of this video. In all honesty, the math I'm teaching is way too low to really take advantage of the features past the beginning of the video. There's not much that you couldn't do with a computer screen projected on a whiteboard. The more advanced features look pretty good if we can get the students up to speed.
The school is free for all Emiratis. The only thing that they have to pay for is the laptop that each student is required to buy and bring to class. The challenge is not only teaching them to use it, but teaching them to bring it along with a pencil, notebook, and calculator. Because I'm teaching students whose parents were the first in the family to be able to read Arabic, there's not a big culture of education here. Part of what I'm doing is teaching the students how to study. In the two classes I had today, the students were outgoing, friendly, and eager to please. I feel like I was prepared for the worst and able to manage the class fairly easily. At the same time, I'm well aware that once they're used to me, that can all change.