September 28, 2009


Alison and I left the University at 12am on Friday, after calling our amazing and wonderful cab guy…we finally found a regular one who is awesome and reliable! After being surprised once again at the laxness of security in Egypt…we meandered to our gate and sat. (To pass time we sounded out words written on signs….we didn’t know what they meant but we could say them! Haha) We jumped on our 2:30 am flight to Istanbul, Turkey sleep drunk and ready for a nap! The flight was easy (I wish I could have slept more though) and the landing was gloriously smooth (no Inshallaha Air landing here!)

The taxi ride to our hotel was BEAUTIFUL! I fell in love with Turkey on the ride. (Our old bald driver was blasting techno music the whole time…it was wonderful) It was so exciting to see flowers, and trees, and grass everywhere again! The weather was crisp and cool; which was awesome because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to experience a fall this year! Our hotel was gorgeous and Alison and I didn’t want to leave! It was a nice change of pace and exciting to be spoiled for a few days!

Our first night there we went out and explored the street we were living on. We found this awesome restaurant, Doce, where we ate several other times during our stay. Later that night we met up with two of our friends who are staying in Istanbul the rest of this week and went to a Nargile café and smoked/ drank tea while we planned the rest of our stay.

The next day we went and explored the historical landmarks in Istanbul. We went to the Topkapi Palace, which was the grand palace of the Ottoman Empire. We saw lots of jewels, pretty paintings, and pure elegance. The palace is located right on the water! (Which was wonderful because I was missing those chilly fall days where the wind whips off of the water and sends chills through your whole body!) It was the perfect location for tons of pictures with my friends and me! (I will do a picture only post when I get back to Egypt!!)

Then we ate lunch at a little café by the Hippodrome, across from the Egyptian obelisk, where we witnessed (we only found this out later though) the burial procession of the last Turkish Sultan who died earlier this week. We were scared that we were by a riot! We then went to the Aya Sophia, it was a Church in Constantinople which was later changed into a mosque when the ruling class became Muslim. The meshing of the two religions in one building was astonishing and breathtaking. The mosaics that had been hidden by plaster when the church was converted to a mosque were gorgeous and still glittered with their past elegance! After leaving the Aya Spohia we went to The Blue Mosque.

The Blue Mosque is so named for the hand painted blue tiles that adorn its walls. But before we were allowed into the mosque we had to wait for the evening prayer to finish! Also when you go into a mosque you have to cover up, so we all slipped on our sweaters and put our scarves over our heads…and you must take off your shoes.  (If you don’t have things to cover up with they have people outside handing you robes that you can slip on over your clothing.) The mosque was just as amazing as everyone had made it out to be! It is lit only from light from the windows with a few chandeliers that dangle down from wires that stretch from the ceiling to 7 feet above the floor. It gives the illusion that you are amongst the stars when you sit down on the luscious carpet and look up. We sat in the mosque for a while just taking it all it. The air was filled with a peace that you can only find in a spot filled with so much faith.

That night Alison stayed in and did work while Nimisha, Cheyenne, and I went and explored! We ended up eating the best chicken kabob sandwiches we have ever had from an awesome vender by the hostel they were staying at! Then we headed back to the hotel Alison and I were staying at and had a sleep over!

The next day we woke up and headed over to the spice market! (Who doesn’t want to start their day filled with fresh spices and yummy free food!!!) Then we walked over the bridge to the other side of Istanbul! There we ate lunch (corn from a vender!) and sat by the water. (In order to get to a place to sit we had to walk past a creepy fish market though…it was depressing…) After that we went to a hidden book market outside of the Grand Bazaar. It was defiantly a hidden treasure and smelled amazing! (Who doesn’t love the smell of old books?!) Then we headed back to our hotel where we chilled and watched Aladdin! (The evening was punctuated by a frantic search all over Istanbul for pizza since we had been seeing signs for Pizza Hut all day!) We had another sleep over that night because we wanted to get up early and go spend our last day at the bazaar.

Our last morning in Istanbul we woke up and headed out to the Bazaar where I spent too much money…but it was fun and I got some really cool things! We ate one last time at Doce, the first restaurant that Alison and I ate at in Istanbul, and had apple tea one last time (a local yummy favorite), then headed back to the hotel to catch our cab!

It was a wonderful 4 days and I know I left a part of my heart in Istanbul! I hope that I get to come back to this wonderful city again sometime in my lifetime!

Much Love

September 24, 2009

What's Been Going On In My Life!

Hey everyone! A lot has happened in the past few weeks! I have been to Luxor and Aswan in Upper Egypt and am currently in my hotel lobby in Turkey waiting for my room to be ready! When AUC decided to close until October 4th I knew I was going to travel but I never expected to have done so much in such a short period of time.

I went on a Nile Cruise with the school and I met some absolutely wonderful people who I feel really comfortable and close with!!! We visited three tombs in The Valley of the Kings; Ramses VII, Ramses IV, and Ramses IX, and I was shocked by how much these tombs have been preserved over the years. In the Ramses IV tomb you could even see brush strokes in the designs that were painted on the walls. Every surface was nearly covered with color from floor to ceiling; there were spots where some of the paint had been chipped away. The most shocking part about visiting The Valley of the Kings is seeing how much land the tombs that they have found take up. And when you look around and realize how much time and man power it would have taken to create one tomb it is mind blowing.

We also visited many temples; The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the Colossi of Memnon, Karnak Temple, Horus Temple, Sobek, Haroeris Temple, and The Temple of Philae. (Truth be told...once you see one temple they all start to blend together!) However, I learned that when touring temples with incompetent tour guides Lonely Planets, and friends who speak other languages are wonderful things to have! All of the temples were beautiful and will hold a special place in my heart.

Our last stop was at the High Dam and Lake Nasser. I think that Lake Nasser is probably the most beautiful man made thing ever created! It was also crazy to think that I was SO CLOSE to Sudan!

                                                (The Nile...on the way to Philae Temple)

To get to all of these places we flew to Luxor then sailed on a cruise ship to Aswan and stopped along the way. The Nile was beautiful and sailing was peaceful. It was a perfect way to spend Eid!

Then we got back to school and my friend Alison and I planed a trip to Turkey and Greece! I know my life sounds so horrible right now. But if it makes you feel any better I still have homework to do and need to keep up with all of my assignments for classes!

Much Love! xoxo

Where in the world is Sarah?!

Hey everyone! I know you all are thinking...wait didn't Sarah just get back from a trip....and the answer would be YES however I am leaving tonight at Midnight for another excursion! I am going to Istanbul, Turkey from Friday September 25th until Monday September 28th then I am heading to Athens, Greece until Thursday October 1st.

School will then hopefully start on October 4th! I promise a nice long post when I get back from the other side of the Mediterranean!


September 18, 2009

Off to Upper Egypt!

I am going to get on my bus to the airport at 3am my time (9pm East Coast time) and my plane is at 6:45am to Aswan. Then head to a ship in Aswan to see the High Dam, the Temple of Philea, and a felluca ride around Kitchener's Island, and the Aga Khan Mausoleum. The second day we are going to a temple shared by two Gods Sobek and Haroeris of Kom Ombo. Then we will sail to Edfu and see the Horus Temple. That night we will sail to Luxor and on day three we will see; the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Colossi of Memnon. Finally we will go see the Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple. Then back to Aswan. Hop on a plane and back to Cairo in time for dinner on Tuesday!

I will have lots of stories and pictures up hopefully by Tuesday evening! Much Love! And Happy Rosh Hashanah (on Saturday) and Happy Eid el Fitr (on Sunday) !!


P.S. Check out my videos on YouTube!

September 17, 2009


So the Egyptian government has shut down my school until October 4th. Why you ask? Well you see there was an outbreak of the piggy flu in Alexandria. Which freaked the Egyptian government they postponed the opening of all of the government run schools. (AUC is not one of them) So my school opened on time....but EVERY other school in Egypt was closed because they are government run.

Then the government get all pushy and told AUC that we HAD to close....even though NO ONE on AUC staff, faculty, or students had the Swine Flu. (Really the Egyptian Gov. was just being the big mean bully on the play ground) Will this help the situation at all. I would say, very confidently, no. First, all of the students are now going to they will come in contact with more germs than if they had stayed in school. Second, the Egyptian government has pretty much screwed over their own country for the next century because they are preventing their future leaders from going to school and getting an education...and they need to go to school so they don't make these same decisions. (I was SO SHOCKED they it was so easy for them to cancel schools like that. They barely batted an eye)

So I am currently planning a trip with some of my friends...I hope it works out! Right now we are thinking about going to Istanbul and Athens...about four days in each. I should be getting a price quote tomorrow and we will see if it is monetarily possible! But this weekend I am going to Luxor and Aswan in Upper Egypt (aka South Egypt...I know it's weird but thats how it works)

Wish me luck with trip planning! and I will be sure to keep you updated!


September 14, 2009

Hashish in Egypt

I know everyone who I go to school with who reads this blog is now going, "YES SARAH IS FINALLY GOING TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING COOL AND INTERESTING!!!! HASHISH!!!"

And if that means nothing to you check out the Wikipedia!

But I am sorry to disappoint my friends...this isn't going to be about Pot it is going to be about grass...the green stuff on the ground everywhere back at home...not a synonym for pot (fyi Hashish literally means grass in Arabic)

When you see grass over here; you know that someone takes really REALLY good care of that patch of grass. They have timers set to water the grass every day. You always see people walking around it...I often wonder if they are talking to the grass saying, "Come on grass YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!" The school has a tiny riding mower they use to mow that little patch of grass right by the entrance to the school...and you KNOW they are so proud of that grass.

But today on my way to class sadly the small patch of grass on campus has turned brown. They were trying to water it and revitalize it....however, the status of the grass remains unknown but I will keep you updated if there are any drastic changes.


September 13, 2009

Dit Dit Dit

Three simple words which mean so much to me!

Last night the Pink Boa had its last party and with the ending of that amazing institution I feel like I need to give thanks to all the the amazing people who have graced that hallowed ground.

Until college I was never able to be truly and completely myself. However, the amazing people I met at St. Mary's and the amazing alum from SMCM have pushed me to finally be comfortable with being me. Thank you so much....and you know who you are! Some of you I knew about even before I met you...and I am so happy you came into my life and blasted away so many of my previous conceptions of the world. Some of you came into my life through others and I couldn't be more grateful for all that you have taught me.

I would not change anything I have done in my life, even the bad things, because they brought me to you.

I miss you all and wish I could have been there with you to hear Dit Dit Dit one more time in the crocodile tears color room! You all are my best friends and my family. Many Kisses and Many Hugs!


September 8, 2009


(pre warning I accidently hit the italics button and can't get it to turn off and be normal...I'm sorry) Ketchup. Every time I order food on campus I am given 5 packets of ketchup.....and I have no idea why! Order pizza, I get ketchup. Order a turkey and cheese sandwich, I get ketchup. Order spaghetti.....and they give you ketchup. WHY?? Especially with foods like pizza, and spaghetti, why? One time I got pizza and I told the guy no ketchup....and he started laughing at me. I don't know why. Maybe they think Americans really like ketchup on everything because they are always trying to give it to us. 

Sometimes when they give you your food they say, "We give you special American ketchup!" (meaning Heinz....but it is all Heinz then I get I being hit on through ketchup innuendo???) I don't know.

In conclusion I want to know if Egyptians think that Americans REALLY like ketchup. Because right now I would totally say that they do. 


September 7, 2009

We need to chat

Things work a lot differently here in Cairo. To put it eloquently...time here is not something that you see on a clock. It cannot be measured. It is in the sky. Especially with it being Ramadan right now everyone looks up at the sky to see when the sun will rise to stop eating, and when the sun will set to start their feasts. Ramadan is never a Grecian calendar month; it is a lunar month. It begins with the moon disappears and ends when it fades away again.

So yeah I know this sounds pretty and cool and all but what I am trying to get at is a no way means an American minute. Here 1 minute=15 minutes and tomorrow means 3 days from now. It was annoying at first. Then I thought it was kinda adorable. (In the cliche oh look at how relaxed their culture is compared to the GO GO GO type of lifestyle they have in the United States.) But it has become annoying again.

WARNING here comes the part where I vent so if you don't want to here me complain then stop reading!

So I got here and my door didn't close. It took them 4 days to make that happen.
Then when my door closed I couldn't open it with my ID. It took them 3 days to make that happen.
Today I forgot my phone in a classroom. I asked 6 security guards to open the door for me so I could go in and get it. NONE OF THEM HAD KEYS and the guy with keys wasn't coming back until after Iftar (8:30). But I did eventually get it back.

Okay thats my time rant. On to other subjects.

Also they suggested that the international students bring travelers checks with them....but there is no place to cash them on campus (the bank wont do it) and so I don't know what to do.

The fire alarm keeps going off EVERYDAY (a few times it went off in the middle of the night....the night before classes started it went off at 2 am). But they have people come and fix it every day with no avail.

Until two days ago the fire alarms all chirped in our rooms. Then after the alarm went off at 2 am the other day they started again. (They just stopped chirping today at 4 o'clock! YAY)

Then the school sent out two different and conflicting Ramadan schedules (we need a different schedule to accommodate Iftar). Which left both students and PROFESSORS confused about when classes even started. Today I waited for 30 min before my professor came because he had the wrong time for that class.

I went to add Intro to Political Science today because I need it to graduate and I figured why not take it here since their Poli Sci department is awesome. But the women who helped me was (pardon my language) but she was a bitch. She told me that I could not take the course because it was a 100 level course and I was a Junior and only Freshman could take them. (and she wouldn't even listen to me when I said that I needed the class and my school would accept it for credit.) Then asked me what my major was and suggested a class. I asked what it was about and she THREW the course catalogue at me and told me, "Look it up yourself! AND MAKE IT QUICK!". I just said yes to the class. But I got back to my room and e-mailed my school and they said it wouldn't count as the poli sci class that I need to take to graduate. So the wonderful women at SMCM who takes care of credit transfers wrote a letter for me to show AUC saying that I need this class. I really hope they let me in!!!!

(All I know is that I can be REALLY grateful that I don't ride a bus...or this list would be MUCH longer!!!)

I really love St. Mary's so much right now! This place is beautiful and looks amazing. But it can't function! (I mean even the professors didn't know what was going on!!!!!!) A few problems are excusable. Everyone makes mistakes. But really look at this list! How can this many things go wrong when I have only been here for ten days. I really hope things get better. I have faith that they will when classes get started. But if this continues I don't know if I can take it.


September 6, 2009

First Day of Class

I had my first day of class today and I think that everything will go smoothly. The only thing that I am worried about is understanding my professors through their accents. Also after looking at the silibi (SP??)that I have gotten so far I think that classes here are a lot less work than they are back home. I'm not complaining. But I am worried that I will have too much time on my hands. I think I am also going to try to add another class so I will be taking 5 classes.

Things were a bit crazy today because the school sent out two different Ramadan schedules. So no one was really sure about when they were supposed to have class and some people didn't even know that the Ramadan schedule even existed. It was slightly chaotic...but then everything here is always a bit out of order. You get used to it. I think that this trip will make me less anxious all the time....Or just cause me to have a mental break down. :-P

Thats pretty much everything for now. I know I said I would write about my Bedouin Night....but I'm not really feelin' it right now. I promise I will! Maybe on Tuesday when I don't have class. Oh thats another think thats kinda weird. The school week here is goofy. I have classes on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tuesday there are no classes and our weekend is Friday and Saturday. It is defiantly going to take some getting used to!

Much Love

September 4, 2009

Internet in the Desert is not Reliable

Hi Everyone! Sorry that it has been a few days since I last posted. Things got busy on campus and my internet was down for a few days. But everything is fine now! Inshallah things will be fine for the rest of the semester.

I have had 4 days of my Survival Arabic class and have learned A LOT! I often find myself wanting to speak in Spanish. I have no clue why. I rarely try to speak English. But I keep thinking and wanting to respond in Spanish. On the positive side of things; I can sound out words and say them when I see them written in Arabic. I can count to 10...100 if I am awake and alert. I can say, "Hi" and "Good Bye", as well as have a few simple conversations about things like food, and prices of food/taxi fair. I am really happy that I took this class because it gave me something to do during the day and made me get my body on Egypt time. ( I still know people who are staying up until 6 am and then sleeping until 2 pm.)

Monday was pretty uneventful except for a trip into town...which became a trip to City Stars. We got into town on the AUC bus. Then found out that the next bus back to the school wasn't until Midnight. (and if you know me I am totally not an evening person.) So my friend Alison and I got a cab and went to City Stars. The cab ride was CRAZY! Picture rush hour DC traffic....with no lines on the road....and a cab driver who is young and willing to take risks. We were weaving all over the place. Making lanes (well there are no lanes....but if there were, we would have been making new ones). I am positive that riding in a cab in NYC after this trip will be a piece of cake! (There were a few times where we were so close to the car next to us that I could touch them IN THE CAR without any was an interesting experience) But none the less these guys seem like they know what they are doing.

Then we got to City Stars. (City Stars is a HUGH 7 story mall in Cairo. Name a store and they have it!) I had arranged to be taken back to school by Sarah (who totally saved me that night! THANK YOU SO MUCH!) and so while she was eating dinner we wandered around and checked out the stores. I was shocked to find quite a few Lingerie stores. What was defiantly the weirdest part of the experience was during Iftar the whole mall was empty. All the stores closed and everyone headed to the food court. WHICH WAS PACKED!! There were no seats so people were sitting on the stairs and on the floor. Also what I thought was pretty wild is that there is a place to pray in the mall itself. So maybe Monday was more interesting then I thought! :-)

On Tuesday I went to Khan el Kahlily Bazaar and it was AMAZING. (the bus driver got lost on the way there...which is not uncommon...and so we only got to spend and hour there but it was worth it!) I got a scarf which is so pretty. (I love bargaining for things!) They had lamps everywhere that reminded me of Aladdin. Tons and Tons of trinkets, scarfs, rugs, ornate boxes, and lamps. (This is totally where I am going to get souvenirs!) In order to keep track of everyone in the bazaar people looked for blonde heads. If you got separated from the group you just needed to spot a yellow head and head that direction! At the end of the evening we chilled at the coffee/Shesha bar until to bus came. I had fresh Mango juice. Words cannot describe how good it was! The tea was also wonderful and so different from the states. When we were getting ready to leave we attracted a lot of attention. Nothing bad, just a lot of waving and people saying "Welcome!". (The kids seemed the most amused by all of us!)

Wednesday was fun. After class the school provided us with Iftar and entertainment. The food was AMAZING!!! Mostly because I got to eat veggies!!! I MISS VEGGIES SO MUCH! The food here is very meat heavy, very good...but lots of meat. They set up a stage by the library and tons of tables for all of the international students and first year students. We had greenbeans, carrots, and peas. As well as chicken, beef sausage, and rice. I had water, pepsi and apricot juice to drink (IT WAS YUMMY). For desert we had pudding with nuts in it. I was full and happy!

After we ate a club on campus played a movie they made. It was supposed to show arab history through time and be a comedy. But everyone at my table got distracted when in the first 5 minutes of the show they had characters appear in black face. I was sitting at a table with 7 students (2 were African American) and 3 profs. All of the students were staring with their mouths open. The profs didn't react. So an interesting conversation got started about how, yes minstrel shows are not part of Arab history. Therefore, they probably don't realize how offensive black face is. But still, it really hit a nerve, and we all had a MAJOR case of culture shock. (Not being able to flush toilet paper was odd but you get over it. Seeing people in black face and no one reacting but the Americans. Was really weird because that ideas is so ingrained into out culture. But it is in no way present here.) Afterwards they had a DJ come and play music. It was fun to watch people dance because they don't touch each other. (They kind of hop) I found it amusing.

Yesterday I had a Bedouin night....but this post has gotten LONG so it will just have to be by itself!


P.S. Hopefully I will be able to figure out how to post pictures with my blog soon!

September 1, 2009

What's on the Agenda

Here is what I will be up to for the next few days!

I had my first day of Survival Arabic today! I can now say hi 3 different ways and goodbye 3 different ways. I can say where I am from and how to say my name. I also learned numbers and letters...kinda (we went through it REALLY quickly so I am not sure how much of it will stick. I know I will have it after the first semester though!) I think that the class will be very helpful and the people who aren't taking the class are pretty much hating life right now because they are running out of things to do.

I also have a few trips planned for the next few days.

Tonight I am going to Khan El Khalily. Khan El Khalily is a market in downtown Cairo. We are going at 9:00 pm I know it sounds late but that is early for most people here. I have been at a grocery store at midnight and there were whole families there and I mean everyone! (little babies is strollers, toddlers...) I think that Cairo is really the city that never sleeps!

Tomorrow I am hopefully going on the Nile River Cruise. But the bus leaves at 5 from Zamaleck and I have class until 5:30 I might be going I might not be. It all depends on the bus system which can be pretty chaotic around here and if I can get out of class early. I really want to go though! I have heard only amazing things about them. I would be going for Iftar, and while we are there there would be tons of entertainment!

Then Thursday I am going to do a Bedouin Night out in the desert! We go and eat dinner then ride horses....I'm not really sure of all the details I have just heard that it is absolutely amazing.

Sadly I can't do the pyramids on Friday because of my class :-( I am really sad about that. I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to go. But it is at the same time my class is. I think a group of people that I have met are going to go to the pyramids on a weekend later in the semester when it is cooler so I will defiantly jump on that!

Lastly I am on the waiting list (2nd in line!! I REALLY hope that I get to go on this trip!!) to go to Luxor and Aswan. It is a 4 day 3 night trip to so many places further south in Egypt.

I guess that is all for now. I am also planning to go up to Alexandria one day with some friends in the future as well. I hope that everyone is having fun back at home!

Much Love,

Comments and Concerns

Things overall are going well here. I have figured out how to eat while I am on campus. It is kind of annoying though because I don't have a meal plan so everything that I eat I have to buy out of pocket every day. This also means that I am slightly concerned about having enough money to do everything that I want to while I am here....but I think I will be okay. I found a way to get to a grocery store using the bus system here on campus. In order to save money I think that I will buy breakfast things and some snack things there. So at the most I need to only buy 2 meals on campus a day.

I still don't know how to change in travelers checks. I'm going to go to the bank on campus today and try to figure that out. This is VERY important because I am running out of money! (between buying food, and school supplies, and a down payment for a trip I'm actually currently a bit short to buy a bus pass...I have the money it is just in travelers checks at the moment.) OH! and I am really not happy that I have to pay 300 LE ($60) to get a student visa! My travelers visa is good for 6 months but apparently I still need to get a student one.

My door now shuts! But my ID won't open my door....and we don't know why because I got a new ID but it still doesn't work! Therefore the problem must be in the door itself. We will just have to wait and see how that pans out.

I was quickly typing this as a way to distract myself from going to my crash course in Arabic...but that starts at 10 and I need to find the building it is in! So I am off to class! HI to everyone back in the states!!! Especially everyone at SMCM! I miss you all so much and I don't think I realized how much that place meant to me until I was away from it.

Much Love,