June 8th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
I hope this blog finds you all well. I am please to say that I have finished all of my finals and am relaxing. I actually had my last final on June 3rd the same day as the program’s farewell party. (Perfect timing I would say!) At the gathering I was able to see all of the people from the program once more. During the party we ate all kinds of Egyptian food and hung out. Several of our professors also showed up and it was nice to say goodbye to them. They were all so nice and wanted all of their student’s information so that they could keep in touch over the years.
Apart from the party and getting to see everyone, I have to comment that it feels absolutely amazing to say I am done with my bachelor’s degree. All I am waiting for now are for my grades to arrive in the states so that I can pick up my diploma and make it official. I will be sticking around Egypt for a few weeks, just because I love it here so much. Hopefully, the time spent here will be full of fun and more moments I will keep forever in my memories.
Until next time!
May 24th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
I hope this blog finds you well. As the weeks progress finals are approaching; however, I will not be dedicating this blog to venting all about exams, but to tell you more about my recent experiences.
Before anything I have to tell you all about my adventure I took to the States on May 13th. I left on the 13th of May to go to the USA just to walk at my graduation on May 14th. After walking at my graduation that same night I was back at Boston Logan thinking, “this isn’t right I was here a few hours ago.” It was even more tedious when I had to wait 10 hours at Heathrow Airport for my connecting flight to Cairo. All in all it was good because I finished my 700 page fun read I had picked up at the same airport 2 days before. Nevertheless, the entire, crazy adventure was worth it, I was able to see all of my friends and family and of course experience the thrill of walking at my graduation!!!
Anyways, back to Egypt. Some funny things that happened at the Cairo airport was the constant question of where I am from when I go through immigration and customs. I hand the person my US Passport and they ask me where are you from I say, “America” the question that follows is, “no, no, before, your first citizenship,” I reply “US” then they ask “and your father where is he from?” and I say, “America” and “your mother?”, “America” and then they finally understand that I am not Egyptian, I only look like one. I think they ask me all of these questions so that they know if I have to have an entry visa or not. Speaking about entry visas, it is so easy to get an entry visa for Egypt. I was all worried because I had always had my entry visa before leaving America, I would send my passport to the corresponding Egyptian consulate in New York and they would stamp it and everything. But I found out that all you have to do when you get to Egypt at least if you hold an US passport is to stop at one of the four windows there are of banks in Egypt, pay 15 dollars and they give you a fancy sticker and that it is. I mean the entire process took me less than 30 seconds. I handed the man the money and before I knew it I had a visa in my hands. I had to ask him if that was it. Well now you all know the secret. I hope you have enjoyed my wild adventures and my quirky recounting of what happens inside the Cairo Airport.
Until next time.
May 10th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
Yesterday Dr. Mohamed (the Resident Director) reminded me how much people mistake me for an Egyptian. This works wonders because I blend in, but when people ask for directions it does get a little tricky. I say to myself after I have finished trying giving directions, that probably the person who asked must be thinking that I never studied grammar in school. Anyways, as I told you all last time I have been very busy with classes and running errands. It seems as if I am working against the tide or something; nevertheless, everything I need to do gets done in time.
I noticed something the other day, actually about a week ago, on how being in a country you do not quite understand what everyone is saying around you and when English television is scarce you read more… I have never enjoyed pleasure reading quite as much as I do now. I mean after I get done with studying, reviewing, chores, etc. I pick up my book that I fully understand and jump into my novel world. It has been four months now that I have been in Egypt and I guess I am feeling like I needed a break for a little to fully understand what was going on around me, even if it is in the novel world.
Of course I still have had fun, while being here, there is always time for fun. I have gone to the movies (again) saw the “Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fay and it was really funny. I caved from having been eating all Egyptian food and bought myself “honey nut cheerios” and have been enjoying every bit of them. Went shopping and got myself new shoes; a funny thing happened when I was at the store. I managed to tell the man my size. He handed me the right sandal I tried it on and it fit so I decided to get them. (I really did need them). But since I didn’t know how to say, “where is the other one” I said “where is the shoes sister” everyone laughed and they knew I was from somewhere not from Egypt. Comic relief is always healthy.
Anyways that is what has been going on. I have to go start my Arabic homework.
April 28th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
It is strange to think that I just finished taking midterm exams when my friends back home are thinking about finals. Anyways apart from getting less sleep at night because I have been studying hard for my Arabic and Egyptology midterms among others I have of course also found time to have fun.
So I was at this family party (not my family) and I was looking after the little ones ranging from the ages of three to seven. (I tend to drift and play with children when I am at gatherings). Omar, Yahia, and I decided to play cards. Actually we were using the cards from the game “UNO.” As we were playing a made up game by Omar (5), I was communicating with the children in Arabic and they were talking back to me also in Arabic. We played for about forty-five minutes until we got bored and decided to do something else. The reason I have retold the story is because when you can play card games with children in the language you have recently started to learn this turns into one of the signs that shows you really are learning something. Actually, I find that children are the best to practice Arabic with because they will only speak Arabic to you. (It forces you to use all of the vocabulary in your repertoire).
In addition to the party I have also gone out to eat, believe or not, at Macaroni Grill. I know you are probably thinking why would I do that being in Egypt, but I just had a craving for Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo and it was the only place I could think of.
All in all I have been having a marvelous time per usual. I recommend to all of my readers to try and come visit this marvelous country and if anyone is considering the IFSA program I would definitely recommend the one in Egypt.
April 14th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by Carla
I have been very busy catching up with school since my parents were here last week. It was really great because I had the opportunity to do all of the touristy things again. One of my favorite things in the world to do is ride to on a ”felucca” down the Nile. A “felucca” is a sail boat without a sail that you can ride for one hour on the Nile listening to music and dance or sit and enjoy the nice breeze and scenery. My parents were able to experience this the second night they were in Egypt and they loved it as well.
You know you learn about the Nile River when you are young in school in geography class and you dream about seeing it one day in person, and when you finally make it to Egypt it truly turns out to be magical. I don’t know why I feel a sense of tranquility when I see the Nile. It is somewhat contradictory because I am currently studying in Cairo, which is a large, busy, and congested city, yet I feel at home and calm when I observe the flowing water that has provided for settlements for thousands and thousands of years.
Another fun thing I enjoyed with my parents was the pyramids of Giza. Of course, I love seeing the pyramids, but this time it was special not only because my parents were with me, but also because we got to ride on camels for over an hour. We saw all of the three pyramids, (King Cheops, Khafra, and Menankaure) and take as long as we liked.
Overall, I had a wonderful time with my parents and recommend everyone to try to make it to Egypt and experience the wonder for him or herself.
March 29th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
Hope everyone is well. Lately, I have been gathering my observations on different aspects of Egyptian culture. It should not surprise you that many of the things I will mention next I have encountered on the metro. So it all started when I was on the metro about a week ago and it happened to be the day that I was extremely tired and the metro was extremely crowded. I was able to make it on the metro onto the women’s cart and started stealthy observing the women and what they did. There was this young lady in a “nikab” and she apparently was even more tired than me because before I noticed she was snoozing on my arm while standing. Shortly after a lady stood from her seat and the same lady snoozing on my arm took the opportunity to be seated. I then proceeded to move further in to the cart. An older woman who had been sitting for some time saw that I was carrying my bag full of books and she grabbed my bag from by arms and put it on her lap. She carried my bag all the way until I got off the train. She wanted to help me however she could. I had seen women do this before but never to me. It was an experience because no one does that on the T in Boston. Another interesting aspect of Egyptians on the metro is that if there is an old lady (like a grandmother) so to speak and a man gets on the train with a small child, she will offer to have the child sit in her lap. This gesture is so that the child can also rest while on the train. Just these two examples show how family oriented, kind, and wonderful the people here are. I know that it is not just because they are Egyptian but also because Islam has a great impact on how people live their lives and instilling in them virtuous traits.
March 16th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
As you all know classes started which means being busy with homework and stuff. The usual academic responsibilities. Nevertheless, this does not mean I can’t find time to do other fun things. Actually, in my Egyptology course I had to present on Merimda Ben Salam, El Badari, Dier Tasa, and Naqada I II and III, pottery at the Cairo Museum. I had been to the Cairo Museum twice before, but this time it was a completely different experience for several reasons. First of all I entered through a different entrance than everyone else because I was following prof. Hassan who has special connections at the museum. Through this special entrance I got to see some artifacts that were not out for display. Following the secret passage way, my presentation started. This was even more fun not because it went super well and my professor said I did excellent, but because when I was giving my presentation funny things happened. 1)Tourist at the museum who understood English were gathering around me as if I was a tour guide, 2) Since everyone mistakes me for an Egyptian, people were confused as to why I was speaking English, 3) People were smiling at me after realizing I was giving a presentation for class. As you can see it was a fun experience, even more so because I knew details about Egyptian history that I had no previous knowledge of.
Apart from the museum, I visited Cairo Stadium and watched Al-Ahly play against Talaea El-Gaish (???) which was an experience in itself because of the fans. Also I went to see “My Name is Khan” at City Stars. I recommend everyone to see this film. To say the least there wasn’t a dry eye in the cinema. But of course the fun does not stop with the end of the movie, after it finished I got to meet AFROTO one of the players of Al-Ahly I had seen playing at Cairo Stadium.
March 1st, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
Classes have finally started and so far it seems like it is going to be an exciting semester. Being an international relations and political science major it is nice to be studying something new and different like poetry. All of my professors have been astonished that I decided to take courses not related to my area of specialization. Both Dr. Fadwa and Dr. Younma thought I was a literature major or English major so they were very surprised. Anyways, after explaining my reasons of wanting to end my undergraduate career with something different the general reaction was “we like you because you have guts to try new things!” After hearing this I assumed that students in Egypt generally stay in their area of study all four years of their bachelor’s degree. Apart from poetry classes I have Arabic class which is great because I am eager to learn the language and comprehend everyone when they speak to me. I also have Egyptology which I am really really really excited about because I will learn all of the secrets the ancient history of Egypt holds. Finally, I have Aspects of Islamic Culture which I am going to learn everything dating from the Pre-Islamic era to after the Abbasid (I think this is how it is spelled) era.
Apart from classes I have done other fun stuff like visiting the Giza Zoo. This zoo was crazy in a good sense. I got to see so many different animals but what amazed me the most was that there were zoo keepers at almost every different animal station offering for children and adults to feed the animals. For example you could feed: the elephant peanuts, the pelicans and seals fish, the bears and monkeys fruit, lettuce to the llamas, among many other animals. But wait; of course there are more extraordinary things like when a man approached me and asked if I would like to take a picture with a lion and then proceeded to whip out a brochure with pictures of this little girl sitting on a lion cub. I decided to pass on the opportunity given that even baby lions have sharp teeth and claws.
February 16th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by Carla
Riding on the subway, walking down the street, or just sitting at a local café, you get to see many distinctive qualities about a country. So far I have noticed that: 1) sidewalks are for parking instead of walking, 2) divisions in the road are for decoration and not to help direct traffic flow, 3) even if you live 10 minutes away from your destination and are planning to take a taxi you probably should give yourself about half an hour to 45 minutes to ensure you will be on time, 4) the metro is more efficient and dependable than in Boston, 5) it amazing how much you can eat for 5 dollars, 6) people drink tea at all hours, 7) you can actually drink faucet water without getting sick (of course after your “community immunity” kicks in) 8) the chocolate here is AMAZING!!! 9) Mango juice as well, 10) everyone is extremely friendly and helpful when you try to practice Arabic with them, 11) I feel safer walking in Egypt than walking in Boston or New York, 12) there is a ton of people in the city and you do not know what rush hour is until you ride the metro from Sadat station to Dokki, 13) the Nile river is BEAUTIFUL, 14) some women I have spotted who do not wear a hijab have hair styles taken from the 80s, 15) when ordering Turkish coffee make sure you are ordering medium sugar and not “happy coffee” (the difference in the two words is the order of the letters “masboot” (med. Sugar) and “mabsoot” (happy).
All of these aspects and more are what make each and every country unique. That is why I love to keep a small journal with me so that I can jot down every little aspect that I find interesting.
February 3rd, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by Carla
Orientation is over and I have to start reminding myself that I am on a study abroad and not on vacation. I say this because during orientation apart from going over the technical administrative procedures our orientation also consisted of fun excursions and trips. One of the first big trips was going to Waadi El Natrun in the Western Desert. We had to ride on four wheelers because they are the only vehicle that would not sink in the sand and are safe enough for the adventure. We left at about nine in the morning that day and did not get back until about after 6pm, so we literally stayed an entire day in the desert. The experience was nice, but I don’t think I would do it again unless my family would like to. The day we went was very windy and the combination of wind and sand is not a good one. However, the sites were gorgeous and the open spaces were beautiful. Another exciting trip the group took was to Coptic and Islamic Cairo. During this outing we were toured around different churches, mosques, and one synagogue. They were all so serene and amazing in architecture and design. Each one with a special style pertaining to the century it was built in. Another excursion was, of course, to the pyramids of Giza. It was an all day trip visiting different museums including an open air museum containing an enormous statue of Ramses (I think the Second, if I remember correctly), the Solar Boat museum to the Sphinx and Great Pyramid. We were able to go inside the Great Pyramid, climb all the way to the inner burial chamber and come back down. (Let me tell you, it is a work out!!!) The final big thing the group did was visit Alexandria. We had to drop off 6 members of the Egypt group in Alex so our RD (Dr. Mohamed, who is super cool) decided to make it an event. We stayed to nights in Alex and saw an Italian Symphony at the Opera House and the lovely Citadel. Not to mention before the Opera night we saw Egypt win the African Cup and experienced firsthand how Egyptians celebrate after victory. Overall, the orientation was great I am exhausted but happy and wish I could do it all over again.