Fatima’s U.S. Experience – VII & VIII Football and Rock Climbing

Fatima is a Visiting International student from Pakistan. She spent the Fall 2013 semester at the U of A. She shares her experiences in a series of blog posts.

VII – Razorback Football

The Razorbacks have been having a bad season. They have not only lost every single game they have played, they have lost very, very badly. Hence I was not all that geared up to attend a football game. The fact that I am not a sports person might also have something to do with my lack of enthusiasm.

The game experience was pretty much the same as my baseball experience. I did not understand it much or enjoy it much (that partially being due to the fact that it was very warm, and I was feeling nauseous). Also, we lost without me ever finding out why we lost. We were playing South Carolina that day.

But what was great about the going-to-the-game experience was the free stuff you got of it. I got a free t-shirt, miniature rubber football, a Chick Fil-A coupon for a free cookie. It made you wonder what kind of stuff we would have gotten if we had actually won.

Here are some words I learned: Scrimmage, quarterback, touchdown.

This game was the homecoming game, so it was a huge deal. Alumni had returned to tailgate before the game and the homecoming queen was to be announced – ‘The Most Beautiful Girl on Campus’.

The band and the cheerleaders and the twirlers were highly entertaining, so even though I am not a sports fan at all, I was not too bored. I loved the twirlers in particular.

I was relieved when the game was finally over. Twirlers or not, I will never comprehend why people are willing to stand in the sun for hours watching men toss a ball around – cricket, football, or whatever other godforsaken sport there is.

VIII – Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing!!

Outdoors activities or sports will be the death of me.
I say this because one day, my Resident Assistant Jenna told us she was taking a bunch of girls out to one of the lakes in Fayetteville, Lincoln Lake, and I agreed to go along even though I did not know how to swim hence would not be able to cliff-dive or go swimming.

It was a beautiful location though. Quiet and secluded, it looked like something out of a painting. It was amazing. Thankfully, there were things for non-swimmers like me to do. For instance, Rock-Climbing. I had never tried it before so I thought then was a good chance.

Beginners are never recommended to try climbing real rocks because it is always harder to find footing in them. I was a beginner trying to climb a real rock – you can imagine how it turned out. I started off well, but pretty soon my arms were screaming out for me to stop and I was just swinging mid-air, gasping for breath and asking to be let down. You could see the incredulity in the (extremely good-looking) instructor who was holding down the other end of the rope. I vowed to start practicing from that day on until I was good enough to climb real rocks.

I only went to the HPER once after that for rock-climbing. Just goes to show – I am incurably lazy, whether I am in Pakistan or the United States.

Fatima’s U.S. Experience V – Crystal Bridges & Little Rock

Fatima is a Visiting International student from Pakistan. She spent the Fall 2013 semester at the U of A. She shares her experiences in a series of blog posts.

My ifriend Gina Gray is an amazing woman. She is big-hearted and generously thoughtful. Hence, one day when I mentioned that I had not been able to go to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art with the International Cultural Team, she volunteered to take me one weekend, and I eagerly took her up on her offer.

Pow! Bam!

An interesting fact about Fayetteville that I have not mentioned in my previous posts is that the first Wal-mart was opened in Rogers, which is a town not too far from Fayetteville (a 20 minute drive, I’ve been told). The owner, Sam Walton, was originally from Oklahoma, a neighboring state of Arkansas. Before opening Wal-mart, he had opened up a five-and-dime store in Bentonville, which is also a town 30 minutes away from Fayetteville. Because of Wal-mart’s prominent presence, Fayetteville enjoys a thriving, vibrant arts scene. The Waltons have donated generously to various projects over the years. The Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art is one of those projects that was funded by the daughter of Sam Walton.

Gina and I, along with one of Gina’s colleagues Christina, set out on a rainy Saturday to visit the museum. The museum is built to blend it with its very beautiful forest surroundings. The roofs are curved downwards like the back of a beetle, so when it rains the water slides down them and into the lake that it is built over. The museum itself is divided into various sections. We started off with the more realist, baroque-style paintings of the early 1600s and moved on to the more impressionist paintings. Some of the quoted prices of the paintings were very interesting – to quote one fellow visitor exclaimed, ‘I feel like I shouldn’t even be standing so close to them!’

The fact that I could recognize many of the modernist American greats – Rothko, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Wyeth, Rockwell – before even reading the label accompanying them filled me with pretentious art-connoisseur pride. I knew more than my American guides in the era, so much so that Christina asked me how I knew so much about art. It helps to be painfully pretentious at times.

Later, Gina treated Christina and me to lunch at the museum café, and soon we were ready to head back. We could not visit the tracks surrounding the museum that day due to the persistent raining, but it still was a surprisingly productive and fun day.

Little Rock

The International Students Office organized a trip to Little Rock for (surprise, surprise) International Students. I signed up immediately. Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas, and there are a lot of people on campus from Little Rock.

We visited the Farmer’s Market of Little Rock, as well as the Arkansas Museum of Natural History. Interesting as both places were, I was truly moved by the Museum of African-American History, or as it is better known – the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. I have read about slavery in America before, but here were some of the truly, movingly powerful moments from that part of American history. Here we learned about the lynching of John Carter and the North Little Rock Six (amazingly, the receptionist at this museum was the younger sister of one of the six students). These were stories of true courage – to stand up in the face of millions of people and demand for a basic right.

African-American history has always fascinated me. I loved listening to old-school rap during my younger days (Tupac, Wu-Tang) and I have been a huge admirer of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison’s writings. Hence, this Museum was a very meaningful experience for me.