August 30, 2009

Iftar And My Busy Day About Campus!

Iftar was so yummy! There were chicken cutlets, beef, stuffed cabbage, Okra in a stew type thing, Pigeons (Yup whole pigeons...which are actually quite yummy), stuffed eggplant, something that looked kinda like macaroni and cheese but it wasn't macaroni and cheese, and so much more that I can't even remember right now! I ate with Sarah's fathers side of the family and met some of her Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. They were all really wonderful and spoke really good English. Her one cousin, Mona, from New Jersey (currently living and working in Egypt) was a trip. Sarah's son Dudu was playing with Mona's iPhone and wanted music (He actually asked if Mona had Barney on her was really adorable). So Mona put on Single Ladies by Beyonce and Dudu and Helima started dancing and swaying back and forth. I started laughing and thinking about all the different places I had heard that song in the states! I loved it! It was one of the best moments so far here.

Then we got back to campus and the guards at the gate were joking around with me asking if I had a bomb in my purse. But they don't speak english so they were making gestures and saying BOOM! It was pretty wonderful!

Then woke up early this morning to do orientation things. Which included getting a bag that looks like a laptop case filled with stuff about the school...finally a map and some sort of to do list. So then I signed up for a tour...which I left half way through because the tour group was HUGE and the guy was just walking really really fast and talking as he went. So I couldn't hardly hear anything and I was learning enough just wandering around. Then a group of girls I met and I went to get some lunch at a place here on campus (Sarah you were right to food is good!). Then I spent the rest of the day doing little things like getting an ID card (which took FOREVER and I was so happy to be done with!), and figuring out my schedule.

Oh and BIG NEWS. I went to Residence Life again today and I talked to the Dean (who gave me her mobile phone number to call if my door wasn't fixed today) who finally got someone to come look at my door. The guy tried to close it once...said I need to come back tomorrow then left. (I felt so defeated.) Then I was hanging out tonight and the guy who was activating ID cards saw me and asked about my door. I said it wasn't closing still. So he came up and FIXED MY DOOR! YAY Then I shut it. Escorted him out of the girls area. Went upstairs. Tried to open my door with my ID. It didn't work. I ran downstairs. He came up. Tried to make it work. Then said that my ID had a flaw in it. I have to get a new one tomorrow. (Thats what I get for thinking I was done with ID chaos) I'm going to get up at 8am tomorrow and go right to the ID place and hopefully get one that actually works!

Thats about all thats going on here now. There are some more interesting things that I want to talk about but this is getting REALLY long. So I'm going to say by now!


August 29, 2009

My first day about town!

Hello everyone! Today an ex student of my Aunts from Bahrain came to pick me up at school and take me out to get what I need. She has two adorable kids a boy (whose actual name I am not going to even try to write) his nickname is Dudu and a little girl Helima. We went and got an Egyptian SIM card for my phone (YAY!!!!) so now I can talk to people here! (This would have been helpful today because I was waiting for Sarah to pick me up; but we ended up at different gates!!! I had to ask someone to borrow their phone to give her a ring...but we found each other!) Then we went to a stationary store (think staples but crammed into a dorm sized room) and I got the school supplies that I needed. (The only thing that I didn't get but I can live without while I'm here is a hair dryer. I fried mine this morning because I forgot to change it to work on the 220 power that they have here. So if you want a good christmas present idea a hair dryer would be wonderful!!! hint hint)

We then went back to her Mother's house where she is staying with her husband and kids until they find a place in Cairo. (They are moving to Cairo from Alexandria) She fed me pizza, which was wonderful because I had only had granola bars all day. She helped me get my phone back into English (from Portuguese Thank You Jess! See I'm a million miles away from you...yet you are in my life every day!) and put minutes onto my phone.

Then we came back to campus! I am writing you this before she picks me up again for Iftar tonight (literally translated it means is when they break the fast of Ramadan). So more food to come! Thank goodness because nothing is open yet here on campus.

I learned some interesting things today about AUC though. All of the roads leading up to the campus are newly paved...becuase Obama was coming through and they wanted it to be nice for him to drive on. There is no masque on AUC campus (this makes me sad because I wanted to hear the calls to prayer. I heard them this afternoon at Sarah's though!). AUC is located in the Desert. Like literally this part of Cairo is being reclaimed and turned into a sew suburb. So 5 years ago I would be in the middle of the Desert. This explains why I saw SOOOOOO much sand on the way here. Everything is changing and being built up. Sarah told me that the city is nothing like what it is like here it is very crowded and chaotic.

My two worries for the coming days are that I figure out this food thing until things get going on campus....and that my door gets fixed! (My door doesn't close all the way so I can't lock it!)

Much love to everyone back home!

I'm in Egypt

Hi Everyone! This will be my first full day in Egypt! I can't wait! My room is quite large there is a lofted bed a large L shaped desk, a wardrobe, and some shelves. But lets start back on the airplane! The flight went well! I remember flying over the Mediterranean Sea and seeing the coast of Africa for the first time. It was pretty and slightly dotted with clouds. Then the closer we got to Cairo and the farther we got away from the water the more the sky changes to a weird gray, tan, pink color. (I am assuming it was the dust in the air...hoping it wasn't pollution! lol) The land looked like what you would expect...large expanses of sand dotted with attempts as growing things and little villages.

All my luggage made it and after waiting for a bit for everyone to figure out what was going on we piled into a van to take us to the school. (and I mean pile) We fit about 14 college well as their luggage into a slightly larger than normal size van. (I took pictures. They will be up later) We drove around for a bit and learned that if you plan of going anywhere in Egypt U turns will be made. (I don't know why but in order to get out of the airport I think we took 3 U turns!) Then we got to campus...when through security AGAIN and were able to get into our rooms. I am in Unit 12: each unit has 3 floors and the roof is a porch area. My floor has 3 doubles on it and one single. (I still don't have a roommate but hopefully I will be getting one today!) The bathroom is nice: two sinks, two toilets, and two showers (and these showers are BIG). The school is beautiful and I can't wait to explore it later!!!

I did get really frustrated when I couldn't get the internets working last night but finally they are up and running! For some reason the fire alarm went off at 11 pm last night and again this one will tell me why. But I see people doing work on something outside so that might be the cause.

I miss home A LOT! But I am really hoping that this semester goes well!! I miss everyone back in the states so very much! I LOVE YOU ALL!

August 27, 2009

One the Plane to Frankfurt

On the way to Frankfurt! (Written on the plane….posted once arrived at Frankfurt)

I am to the right of Canada as I write this and full from a really yummy dinner! But don’t let me get ahead of myself. The take off went well. It is really weird looking at the ground as the plane is gaining speed. Mostly because it doesn’t take long at all to realize how small you really are. The things that normally look so large and sprawling, like the roads you drive on ever day, or the banks of trees along the side of the road, shrink into the streaks of water that fall down your car window when it rains, and heads of broccoli bunched together at the grocery store. (Okay so one of the flight attendants totally looks like the actor in A Beautiful Mind like seriously he does….it’s creepy.) Then after we got up off the ground we flew through a TON of clouds. Which I actually like because it feels like you are skiing and they squeak against the plane like snow does against your skis. (Michel Jackson’s music videos are now on the TV….I don’t know why) Then I sat around a bit. Sneakily wiping away tears…the whole thing has caught up to me and slapped me in my face.

But things got better. I had a headache but got a coke and that fixed it. Oh AND OMG ALOCOHOL IS FREE! Lufthansa apparently even on domestic flights has free booze (So says the guy sitting next to me). I was offered but declined due to headache.

Then came the food….and it was amazing. I had pasta with a white sauce and red peppers. It was GOOD. It also came with a salad topped with shrimp, a dinner roll with butter, cheese, and chocolate moose with a strawberry on top for dessert. Then more wine and water was brought around. Then they brought around tea and coffee; which was shortly followed by brandy and Bailey’s. (However, it was not served in a shoe….the lights went off….guess this means I should go to bed…) But I’m just going to keep writing to you!

So I searched the movies available (oh I should also say that in the seat in front of me I have my very own flat screen TV with a variety of movies, TV shows and music to amuse myself with!) and they are 1 ½ Knights, 17 again, Duplicity, Fast And Furious-New Model Original parts, Hanna Montana: The Movie, I Love You Man, Lilly the Witch: The Dragon and the Magic Book, Monsters vs. Aliens, Rab Ne BAna Di Jodi, Race to Witch Mountain, Star Trek XI, and The Tale of Despereaux. I think I might watch Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. It is a Hindi film and one of my favorite hindi actors is in it and I haven’t seen a good Hindi movie in a while so I think it is time. But the sun has set and the lights are off and I also might go to bed. The 27th of August 2009 has officially been the shortest day of my life! I am about to head over the Atlantic! I’m over the Labrador Sea right now! It is 12:38 am in Germany/ Cairo right now and I have four hours and 26 minutes left of my flight.

Many Hellos, I love yous, hugs and kisses to everyone back home!!!


August 22, 2009

Why I chose Egypt.

Why not?

I have always wanted to study abroad. Many countries have floated through my head over the years (Ones I know my parents would have been more happy England). But I have never been the one to take to easiest path...and I wanted to go some place different. It is rather simple for me to go to England or France....Egypt not so much. This provided the perfect opportunity! (And my friend Susan went. She is to blame for planting the seed in my head! :-P )

I have always been a history buff and I feel very cheated that in grade school I was never taught ancient, African, or Middle Eastern history. I do not want to be another teacher that continues to ignore half of the world and doesn't teach their students about it. Especially when ancient, African, and Middle Eastern history is arguably some of the most important and most interesting history their is! (YAY Pyramids and Mummies!) Without Muslim scholars the western world would never have known the works of Aristotle. Aristotle's works were translated into Arabic and then crusaders brought his works to the west. Muslim scholars in Baghdad invented the magnetic compass, and the lateen sail. Both of which completely altered the history sailing. And without them Europeans would not have been able to make it around the world, or to America. Muslims were the prime scholars in the world and living in splendor back when the people in England were still living a squalor.

These laps in education merely uneducates the students who are supposed to be learning. Furthermore, it breeds stereotypes and prejudices. (ie...We don't learn about these places therefore they are not important.) This is why I want to go to Egypt. I want to face every stereotypes that I have heard. I want to see for my self what it is like to live in Africa, and in the Middle East. Because clearly living in the United States has not shown me an accurate picture.

Ramadan: Outsider Looking In

Ramadan (the abbreviated version)
Ramadan marks the ninth month of the lunar calendar. It was in this month in the year 610 that Muhammad began to receive the Qur'an. So it is during this month each year that Muslims fast from food, drink, and sex from sun up to sun down. This practice is written in the second book of the Qur'an entitled The Cow (Al-Baqara). By fasting one is supposed to feel more connected with God by realizing human dependence on God's blessings. Fasting is also one of the five pillars of Islam and is required for all Muslims to follow unless you are sick, old, or menstruating.

What does this pose for me going into a Muslim country in the middle of Ramadan?
I am going to try my very best not to eat or drink around people who are fasting. (I used to fast with my friend Fatima during Ramadan so it wouldn't suck so much not eating with everyone else at lunch. So I think I can still do it!! Crosses fingers!) Plus I think that fasting in general is a very good way to get in touch with your body and realize how much we are dependent on many other things. I am also excited to experience Ramadan in Egypt because I have heard that Egypt does Ramadan unlike any other country.

I also think that it is so wild that the school completely changes their class schedule to accommodate Ramadan. Classes in the morning start earlier in order to accommodate the large evening meal to break the fast at the end of the day. (Plus I guess everyone else is up from eating their big morning breakfast...)

I am excited to see what I think about everything after a few weeks in Egypt! I will be sure to update!


Happy Ramadan Everyone!

August 20, 2009

So you're going to Egypt...

Every time I tell someone that I am going to Egypt I get many different responses and am asked many different questions. Here are just a few of each. 

"Are you going to get to ride a camel?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!" (Maybe. Hopefully!!!! I really hope they just don't spit at me.)

"What religion so people practice over there?" (They are mostly Muslims, however Egypt does have Coptic Christians and Jews.)

"You know those people over there are Muslim right?!?!" (Said like, "You know those people over there are purple, have four legs, and eight eyes." Guess what Muslims are people and human just like me and you! They aren't scary I promise.) 

"You have to bring me home a Mummy!!"  (Ummm don't think I can bring one home through customs)

"You know they killed all their pigs because of swine flu." (Yup I have read the newspapers.)

"Do you speak Arabic?" (Workin on it.)

"What do people speak in Egypt?" (Arabic. But all my classes will be in English. Most of the people in Cairo speak some English.) 

"Are you going by yourself?" (Yup, I enrolled directly into the American University in Cairo.)

"Why would you ever want to go there?" (Asked to me by a guy on base at Ft. Detrick....he just got back from Iraq and didn't understand why I would want to go to the Middle East . Answer: To try to stop stereotypes that people like you keep going.)

"Wait Egypt is in Africa?!" (Yup Egypt is in the upper right hand corner of Africa.)

"Do you have to wear a Burka, hajab, scarf?/ Do you have to cover your head, face, arms, legs, shoulders, insert body part here?" (Around campus no, they are pretty chill about what you wear, you just can't be too reviling. But out in the town I need to cover up and wear long sleeves, and pants. If I go into a mosque then I would cover my head out of respect.)

"Be Safe./ You are going to really stick out./ You are blonde and have blue out." (I will be careful.)

"Why Egypt?" (This is asked of me by everyone and is a blog post entirely by itself.)

August 19, 2009

So what's going on here?

If you haven't heard yet I'm heading off to Egypt on the 28th of August. This blog is my attempt to stay adequately connected with my family back in the United States while I am gone. So I promise to attempt to try to possibly make posts as much as I can.....maybe! I tend to forget to do things like tell people what is going on in my life. As a result these posts may at times be pointless, however, they will assure you that I am alive and at least functioning enough that I can type out a few stories! :-)

(WARNING: Grammar and Spelling will often be wrong. When this happens use your imagination...I find that makes the reading experience more exciting!)