Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

March 26, 2007

Driving myself nutz

Filed under: Learning Curve — Kaddee @ 1:20 pm

This semester is an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor. I am (as usual) my own worst enemy. I am teaching 2 classes that I taught last semseter (can you say CAKE WALK?) which, I have to be honest, I am doing little with. channeling Jack: push lever, get food pellet. I worked out the basics for those courses last semester, so this semester I am changing the things that didn’t work last time, but not stressing too hard about what DID work.

THEN there is my third course – or shall I say my ONLY course, as it takes about 99% of my time, energy and brain power. In this course, I am reading two texts (one of which I like and the other is the “traditional” text for the course), writing lectures and generating PowerPoints from (practically) scratch, writing lab handouts completely from scratch, trying to figure out what we HAVE that I can use and what I’m S.O.L. on (and frequently I find out that we really DID have some of this stuff, but…well…we don’t let the students USE it!! Sheesh! [insert eye-rolling emoticon here]).

Now, let’s be rational – I am putting the majority of the pressure on myself. Probably no suprise to anyone who is reading this. The previous instructor left/sent a BUNCH of information. I am using some of his images, some of his summaries, and a lot of his material for reference (for myself). The problem is, I am not him. His background, style and interests are VASTLY different from mine. So…I have to make this information, and this course, my own.

Apparently (from third-party information) the students think I’m doing a great job. My TA’s (I am assuming this based on NO data) think I’m a flake, since I don’t have my labs ready for meetings a week in advance, and I’m usually adding to them right up to the time that lab begins. The lab tech (again an assumption) thinks I’m totally NUTZ because I ask for EVERYTHING, and I let the students use it! I think I’m losing my mind because, after 10 years of teaching Human A&P I had it down to a routine , I knew what I needed, what we had, how to improvise and who to get stuff from. Now I’m running around like the proverbial chick sans head and LITERALLY learning as I go.

I am actually (if I take a slightly objective perspective) getting an incredible amount done in the first semester of teaching a course like this. I will have a MASSIVE foundation on which to build/refine the course next time. Right now, I’m just barely keeping my head above water. “Look to the future” I keep telling myself “It will get easier” Then I worry that the light is the oncoming train, and I won’t get to enjoy all the hard work I put in laying this foundation.

The nice thing about an academic job, however, is that EVERY semester MUST come to an end. It is the twice a year reset button that makes all the insanity go away so as to be forgotten before the next semester begins. I am an optomist, so I always believe that it will be new and different. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is Deja vu all over again. And still I keep on believing.

March 25, 2007

Road Rage in Cairo

Filed under: NSTIW — Kaddee @ 3:43 am

This morning, I had my first ever road-raging taxi driver. He seemed a little perturbed when I got in after asking for the University.

“How odd” I thought – normally all the taxis assume you are going to the university from the hostel

This driver was very hard on the horn. Using it more as a non-vocal yell, than the usual indication that one is present, passing, wants you to move or hurry up, etc. Generally the horn is a (relatively) gentle message to those around you. This driver was LEANING on the horn for LONG periods of time to express his overall frustration at the entire city.

Other drivers and pedestrians were staring at him in utter disbelief. This simply is NOT the way that people behave.

When we FINALLY got to the University and I got out, I paid him the standard fare of LE5 and said thank you. He took the note, started waving it at me and YELLING.

“Is that ALL you are giving me? It is MORE than 5 pounds!! Give me 5 MORE pounds!”

I walked away as he continued to yell at me. Some people need to unwind a bit – I was very happy that he didn’t spoil my morning. I just figured he was mish mabsoot (not happy) and a bit magnoon (crazy).

March 23, 2007

In like a lion….out like a lamb

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 4:25 am

Yes – It has been a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time (a month – almost to the day) since my last post. Yes – there are reasons. Mostly because it has been unbelievably busy here.

In a nutshell -

The beginning of March was also the beginning of midterms. Student panic. Papers. Writing and grading exams.

The weekend of 8-10 March we “jetted” off to Doha, Qatar for the opening round of the MotoGP season at Losail International Raceway. Life is rough.

Beth and Flash arrived the day after we got back from Qatar for an excellent 6 day visit.

Lisa and Dan arrived 3 days after Beth and Flash left.

On top of all that I’m still in assignment and grading hell.

We have a week after Lisa and Dan head to Upper Egypt before we leave for Spring Break in Jordan – Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum, here we come!

Now I’m gonna be hyperloading the blog to “remember” all the stuff that March has brought us!