Today I was talking with one of my students who was complaining that he doesn't like college because it's boring. He went on to say that the things he was learning weren't useful at all. A lot of my students have this attitude because they're being asked to work for the first time in their lives, so I thought it was pretty typical and figured that he was just another spoiled kid bitching. He went on to complain the the material was too easy. This too, is a common complaint with students who will then ignore what I'm teaching and make mistakes with basic arithmetic. The thing that was different was that he explained that he had studied engineering at a university in London for a year when his father asked him to come back to Abu Dhabi. He was accepted in another engineering program in the UAE but the university was co-ed and he found it too distracting studying alongside women. He transferred again to my school but somehow ended up in the beginner program. He told his supervisor that he wanted to go into the bachelor's program but was told he needed to get all A's to get into it in one year. It's nice to know that there are some students in my classes that seem to have a really good head on their shoulders but I feel sorry for the guy for having to study such basic stuff.
Part of the reason that I haven't been writing in here very much is that I've been dealing with banks and car dealerships to get a car loan. There's been a combination of me switching banks so I can transfer money easily and finding the banks that will deal with the car dealership. Because the laws change so frequently with no notice, no one really knows what's going on. An example of this is a friend of mine who came here in January couldn't get a car loan until he had been here for six months. Most who came here before him didn't know anything about it. I'm guessing it had to do with the large number of people who skipped town during the financial crisis. Now there's no such law and I can get a loan fairly soon.
The frustrating thing about the process is not that people put roadblocks in your way so you can't get a loan. It's the exact opposite. All I've been told is "No problem!" the whole way through until there is a problem. By that point, I've been so far into the process that it's a pain in the ass to back out. In that respect, it's the exact opposite of Japan. When I wanted to do some formal process there like renting an apartment, it seemed that all I was told was reasons it couldn't be done until it was eventually done. Here, the people involved try so hard to keep your hopes up that they don't listen to the reasons you're giving as to why there might be a problem.
Add to the whole thing that banks are only open until 2:00 and that it takes a good hour or hour and a half to get anything done at a bank and the whole thing becomes one big ball of stress. Basically, I haven't been writing here because I've been so pissed off by the end of the day that I haven't felt like doing anything.
Without getting into too much detail, I worked it out where the car dealership will reserve the car I want to buy for thirty days (until I can get a loan) if I put 15% of the total cost down to reserve it. I had to go down to the dealership for the thrid time to do that today. The annoying thing is that the dealership is a little out of town and taxis are hard to come by, especially leaving the place. I'm finding that most people who go to a dealership to buy a car don't leave by taxi.
After putting the deposit down, I started on my half-mile walk to the nearest place to catch a taxi. Just after I had started walking, an Emirati guy pulled up next to me and offered me a ride to the main road. I figured "Why not?" and go into his car. I was happy to say that his car had really good pick-up as he pulled away. He told me not to worry about the seat belt as he went around the corner on two wheels. He very kindly pulled up behind a taxi and flagged it down by flashing his lights and honking his horn until the driver stopped. While it was a little frightening, I was grateful as there seemed to be a lot of people waiting at the taxi stand I was walking to. Also, his driving was nothing compared to the taxi ride.
I'm guessing that the taxi driver wasn't ready to take a fare because he spent the first ten minutes of the ride having a very animated conversation on his mobile phone. I wasn't quite sure if he was angry or not. It sure sounded like it but then he would burst out with a big laugh. While I wouldn't normally watch TV while riding in a taxi, I thought it would be a good time to watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on my i-pod. At the best of times, this show makes me squirm in my seat. Riding in a taxi with a driver who was swerving through rush-hour traffic while shouting into a mobile phone, I found it oddly soothing.
As often happens, his phone conversation ended and I felt the obligation to stop watching TV when he started talking to me. Because it's common to ride in the front of the taxi next to the driver, it was harder to ignore him. Most drivers are pretty friendly and this guy was no exception. His English wasn't great but I don't mind speaking to non-native English speakers as much since I stopped teaching English. For the most part taxi drivers are interested in where I come from (or at least pretend to be) and like to ask me questions about the U.S. and my family. That said, I can't wait until I get my own car and don't have to bother with this crap as much anymore.