Travel Part II and First Full Day in Dhahran

Travel to Dhahran was probably about as easy/efficient as it could be. The layover in Frankfurt was only 2.5 hours and the next flight was direct to Dammam. Had KFUPM folks meet me at the airport and I got the VIP immigration and customs treatment, so I got through the process quickly and painlessly. And, hey, it rained on the way from the airport to my hotel (and was sprinkling on and off this morning).

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Cloudy skies and wet pool area from my hotel balcony this morning.

Made my way over to KFUPM after breakfast, met with the Geosciences Chair, the College Dean, and then got down to HR business. First business was to get my Iqama (residency visa) card process in motion. Even though I had gotten many medical tests in Boulder to get my work visa, they needed more (some the same, some, ahem different). These included having blood drawn, a chest x-ray taken, giving a blood sample, and giving a stool sample. Well. Hey, at least I had some instructions for that last one…

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Good to know.

The College is moving into a brand new building, so I went to find my office. After I start filling it up (provided my boxes arrive), I’ll post a pic or two. It’s new and has plenty of space and is located in a Geoscience faculty cluster area.

Met up with another new carbonate faculty member, a long-time friend, Luis Gonzalez. I’ve known Luis since he was doing his PhD at UMich, and have followed his work at University of Iowa and University of Kansas (where he has just finished up as Chair). He arrived last week, so I’m the new guy now. After lunch he and I went with our HR guy to rent cars. That was a bit of a process, but I now have a Hyundai Sonata for the next month while I try to wrap my head around what kind of vehicle I’m going to buy here.

I visited my new house – it’s free, newly renovated, furnished (albeit spartanly), has 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths, large living room, adequate kitchen, and a sweet little back patio area. This will work.

I visited the Mall of Dhahran for a bit – it’s large… I was curious about the supermarket there (HyperPanda) and wandered around for a bit. Heintz ketchup exists in the Kingdom!! Tomorrow, I’m going to check out another supermarket here in Al-Kobar that has Safeway and Kirkland brands as its main suppliers. Must verify that Miracle Whip is available…

This evening, I had dinner with a US Embassy guy (the Embassy is right next to campus) who asked if I was American – we chatted and then sat down to eat together. The Embassy has Thursday night gatherings for the American expats here, so I’ll check that out this week.

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