They served a sort of Mexican bean dish, covered with grated cheddar cheese and parsely, very sloppy and grey but tasting nice (it gave me a bit of a tummy ache later on), hummus (a bit too hard for my taste, obviously a light hand with the tahini and olive oil), crackers, raw vegetables cut in sticks with a dip, marble cheese cut in cubes, grapes, and jugs of fruit juice. Everybody sat around in a circle, the newbies, profs and upper-year students, and introduced themselves. The Grad society talked about the social events they were planning for the newbies: kayaking, brewery tour etc. The boss of the faculty invited us to a party and told us about the directions to get to her house. The newbies were almost all girls, dressed in jeans and plain tops. The one sitting next to me wore silver ballet shoes and silver leaf earrings, but that was the only note of distinction in the lot. I wore cropped white pants and a pink t-shirt, in an effort to get away from the office fashion I have been cultivating for the past nine or something years. (After all, when you are interviewing destitute Afghan women refugees everyday, you have to keep up a sense of style…) (That was a JOKE)
They talked a bit about the classes and how fabulous and wonderful everything was / was going to be.
It could not have been more different from a grad session in a Tehranian university if it had taken place on Mars.
In Iranian universities, students are treated as rude intruders in the time of professors, administrators, and secretaries. In one university, there was a small sign tacked outside the admin office in one of the faculities: “ignorance of the regulations does not justify lack of compliance”. The university bureaucrats are busy and rude, and students herded from one classroom to another. Despite the lot of clandestine partying which takes place in Iran, officially, the sekses are segregated in most classes, and sit, talk, and walk apart. Social events are limited to : break-of-fast suppers in the month of ramadaaaaan, one or two hiking trips, one or two seaside visits. Almost after each of these trips, there is a horde of complaints by the iflamic fociety of students that such-and-such a girl was seen talking to / laughing with such-and-such a boy. At least, that is what is was like when I attended university in Tehran ten or twelve years ago, and I don`t think it has changed all that much.
There is some studying to be done here too. But for now, on a fine Monday morning, I am still babysitting the golden boy, wondering about my classes.