Yesterday almost 200 hopeful graduate students loaded on the bus at 6:30 AM for KAUST's first day of classes. Ironically called a "dry run," the purpose of yesterday was for students to follow a compressed schedule to find their classrooms, meet professors, and get a look at the construction progress of the KAUST campus. The architecture is beautiful and the size amazing to me, but construction is still a work in progress. I attended thirty-minute sessions for each of my four classes: bio-statistics, microbiology, introduction to bioprecessing, and biophysics and I was impressed with every one of my professors. Their backgrounds range from pharmaceuticals to fermentation, and they come from a mixed bacground of academia and industry from Texas A&M, Illinois, Saudi-aramco, and Harvard.
This is a view of the marina and boardwalk from inside the library. The unwashed windows are still caked with concrete powder and fine sand, but the outlook stunned me - to think that I will live and study here for the next two years is still amazing.
But for the first month - maybe longer - we will be living in a construction zone. Walkways are blocked off and scaffolding still hangs from every building. The only buildings which are ready for students are the classroom building and library - our housing should be livable within the coming week.
At night the campus has a completely different look and feel when the air cools down with an ocean breeze and spotlights illuminate the structures. What feels unreal will soon be home and I cannot wait to move in and for classes to begin.
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