An Ode to Nicely 500
Still the same anxiety. Who hasn’t experienced it? One can bet all AUB students have been initiated in that cavernous chamber. Some thirty years ago, I waited many times on its stairs, heart racing, sweating, gazing at other students’ faces half-asleep from last night’s long hours, pleading for its gates to open and reveal the mysteries, puzzles, and riddles that awaited us inside.
Yes, it is the ominous and spacious Nicely 500–the master of all halls at AUB, the name that sends shivers down our backs, partially due to the air conditioning system. The room of triumph and tears, of hopes and despair.
One room to rule them all
One room to find them
One room to bring them all
And in its magic bind them
I don’t know who built it or what was the initial usage for it, yet I bow humbly to the ingenious idea to make such a spacious hall where students can socialize on its stairs. And after socializing, proceed through the gates to indoctrination, from juveniles to warriors, roaring out, “It was an easy exam,” or “It was the hardest of my life!”
I took the prehistoric EEE and SQ tests in it, before many of you students were born or probably your parents met. And its gates spewed me out with the verdict, “You shall be an AUB student.”
Now, I’m standing here in different shoes. I’m one of the gatekeepers who throws the spell on you to summon you at 8 am. I’m the genie who prepares the riddles and puzzles, the one whom you try to question whenever I pass near you. I know some of you curse me in your hearts when you can’t solve the riddles. I’m the one who looks at your faces and remembers my own, listens to your excuses to go to the toilet, and whispers to myself, “Oh, why weren’t we that creative?”
Yet I must tell you a secret: its spell is on us all, none is spared its magic. You pass its gates to another world. That’s how it was, and that’s how it will always be.
Long live Nicely 500!
By Dr. Fadl Bdeir (BE ’91, ME ’96) Part-time lecturer in industrial engineering, Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
Nicely Hall was dedicated on April 26, 1965, and since then has been one of AUB’s flagship teaching buildings. Nicely 500 was fully revamped in 2019 and named in honor of long-standing supporter of AUB, Dr. Samer Kamil Al-Rayyes (BS ’81, MD ’85).