Initial Thoughts On Qatar University
There was much more to Qatar University than Google Image could ever convey. Pictures I’d seen only showed bird-house looking buildings, which are really only a tiny portion of QU’s sprawling campus. From the bus tour, I was able to see the newer buildings on campus, which was incredibly beautiful, not to mention huge. Aside from my surprise over the size and modernity of campus, I found a few other surprises in my short first day on campus.
I was surprised to learn that QU is broken up into both men and women’s campuses. I’d heard of all girl’s and all boy’s schools before, but never one school that housed both genders, but in different areas. I can definitely understand how some people can see the campus and see the segregation between men and women and think of it negatively (perhaps linking it back to the racial segregation in the 1950-70s,) but it is best seen as something that is neither good nor bad—simply different. I am excited to hear student perspectives regarding the split college, especially considering that although most buildings are replicated for both genders, some are specific to men or women (ex: the food court, the pool.)
I was also surprised upon hearing that 70% of the student body was women. I assumed that the majority of students would be men so that women could stay at home and care for families, but that thought was completely wrong. In fact, it almost seems to be reversed with the men expected to take jobs earlier on to provide for a family, which limits their opportunities to attend a university. This is another topic I am interested in hearing more on.
In addition to the learning experience I had at the university, I also tried several new things. I learned that eating liver is similar to trying to chew on a leather handbag and not something I’ll be ordering again anytime soon. I learned that maybe the smile isn’t a universal gesture, in particular in Qatar where it can instead be interpreted to mean that you are laughing at a person. I learned that culture is simply a context and that comparing everything to my version of normal doesn’t determine whether it’s right or wrong. I’m excited to continue this learning tomorrow.