Monday, November 26, 2012

Second Day

Today was the second day in Abu Dhabi, and the first for our conference.  As I said earlier, the conference is on the global financial crisis and its implications.  While it sounds like this conference is solely focused on economics, it actually draws upon other fields of study.  Lecture topics included the political and social implications from the recession, current political unrest, and the impact on higher education.  What I thought was the most interesting lecture, was a lecture given by Professor Agrrawal of the University of Maine, who spoke on the correlation of the Great Recession to suicide rates and how this connection is going unnoticed throughout the world.

While at the conference, we had great opportunities to meet other attending the conference. I had a great discussion with a man from the RAND corporation who is doing consulting work with the Abu Dhabi police force, and another gentleman from the Indonesian Embassy.  The official from the embassy and I had a great discussion on Asian politics.  It included the rise of China, President Obama's reelection and Indonesia's proud history of having President Obama as a student during his early years, and Indonesia's relationship with Australia, which sways between good and troublesome.

Adjusting to Abu Dhabi has been bittersweet.  Last night, I almost fell asleep during dinner but was able to hold myself together until I was able to go to bed at seven o'clock due to the jet lag, and woke up at four in the morning after a good rest.  I have also had some hardships communicating with the locals.  While its not hard to get directions or ask for a certain type of food and drink, what I've found most difficult are the small translations.  For example, today I was looking for chap stick, and when asking someone, they repeatedly thought I was saying "chop stick" and pointed me to the closest Japanese restaurant.  Eventually, I was able to find a pharmacy where it was sold, but it was a good and memorable experience.

The best experience that I have had in the two days was a taxi ride back from the market.  Inside the taxi, we started talking to our driver.  After discovering that we were American, he started to talk about how the U.S. is great, but that is is giving too much money and leeway to Pakistan.  This led me to believe that he was Indian, but his accent didn't sound like it.  When I asked him what his nationality was, he said Pakistani.  I was surprised he was being so open with us regarding his political views, and it felt good knowing that people in the Middle East can be critical of their country in positive ways (something that you don't often see in Western Media).

Finally, I need to put out there that I forgot my cord that connects my camera to the computer, so my photos will not be available until I get back to the States.  When I do, I'll make sure to post them all.


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