Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
Please note that this blog post was written on Friday, March 11th.
Hello from beautiful Coogee Beach! It’s been a while since I’ve written, and for those waiting on bated breath for my next blog post, I apologize. Truth be told, internet is EXPENSIVE. Plus, I’ve been too busy doing fun things to write about! So that makes it okay, right? Anyway, I’ve been pretty sick the past few days, so what better time to take a moment and blog?
The last time I wrote, I was off to the last day of orientation. Since then, classes have started! We just finished up our second week, and things are going well so far. My schedule is still a little bit up in the air as I haven’t been placed at an internship yet, but this Monday I have an interview with Rolling Stone Australia! Talk about a dream come true. If I get an internship, the classes I will be taking are: Australian Cinema and TV, Contemporary Approaches to Cinema, and Marine Environment.
Over the past two weeks we’ve done a lot of exploring around Sydney. We discovered Eastgartens and Bondi Junction Malls, we have done the gorgeous walk from Coogee to Bondi (it takes about 1.5 hours, but it’s beautiful), we saw Chelsea Handler at the Sydney State Theater, we went to the first rugby match of the season, and have spent a lot of time at the beach! Oh, and studying, of course.
I’ve been here for a month, and I feel as if the time is flying by. My friends and I are starting to book trips, which is incredibly exciting. We just booked spring break in Thailand, on a program called Thaintro. Thailand is the one place I’ve been dying to go to, so it’s safe to assume that I’m counting down the days.
The week ahead is going to be amazing. Tomorrow we’re going to a surf competition in Bondi, and my roommate and I are going to Future Music Festival. It’s a lot of techno and house music which isn’t really my style, but we have VIP tickets, so that should be fun. Sunday we’re going to the Taste of Sydney Food festival. Monday is my 21st birthday, so after classes and my interview we’re going to a nice dinner in the city. Tuesday we’re going to Hunter Valley, which is like Napa Valley wine country, for wine tasting. Last but not least, Thursday we’re going on a cruise around Darling Harbor for St. Patty’s day. It’s definitely going to be a jam packed week!
That’s all for now! I’ll try to keep you guys more up-to-date next week.
The countdown is now at two and a half weeks, and we are on the millionth snow fall of the 2010 -2011 winter season. I am NOT a fan of the cold weather, but at school it never really seemed so bad. I was talking to one of my best friends from Lehigh this morning who is at school, and she was telling me that a bunch of my friends are going sledding this afternoon. I wish I could go sledding with them!
Instead I’m in New Jersey, completely snowed in. Today is my day off from work and I had a day full of errands planned. I wanted to order Australian Dollars, do some summer clothes shopping, go to the gym (bathing suit weather in less than three weeks?! Uh oh…), and so much more. But I’m still managing to be productive! I’m reading my IFSA-Butler brochures, making to-do and packing lists, thinking about budgeting while I’m abroad, and actually cleaning my room a little. Not too bad for a snow day!
That’s all for now. Unfortunately, working two jobs doesn’t make for a very exciting life (but it does make for a lot of money!). At least I have so much to look forward to in just a few weeks!
The orientation was amazing. There is simply too much to write about so I will highlight the most remarkable things that I experienced. I will start with the food. I can confidently say that I have been overfed and that I have experienced Egyptian hospitality. I do not know if this is the norm, but nearly every meal after breakfast consists of 6 appetizers, drinks, 3 main course dishes, dessert and coffee/tea. I cannot seem to get enough Turkish coffee these days (ah-wah masboot) and they (collective they) cannot seem to tire of feeding me tahini.
Besides the food, the orientation has offered me several opportunities to explore Egyptian historical monuments. So yes, I have seen and been inside the pyramids and ambled by the sphinx; and yes I have seen King Tutankhamen’s casket along with several well-preserved mummies; and yes I have prayed in Saladin’s Mosque; and yes I have been in the Citadel at Alexandria etc etc. This is all well and amazing in its own right, but what stands out are the people.
First and foremost, most Egyptians think that I am Egyptian. Whenever I tell that I am not Egyptian, the second thing they tell me is that I must be Arab. When this too has failed, they still insist that my face is Egyptian (khalass!). For the most part, the locals I have tried to talk most with are the Taxi cab drivers. Most taxi drivers here love to talk. I normally start by telling them where I am from and that I like Egyptian music; typical response: Oum Kulthum! Ya Helwa! Then we play the heritage guessing game (aren’t you Egyptian?) and then the religion guessing game (but you are Muslim yani?) and finally the “what I like about the US” game (Jimmy Carter!!).
We also received several lectures ranging from topics of health, Egyptian music, ancient Egyptian history, archaeology, women in the Arab world, and Islam. We got a lecture from none other than Egypt’s Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities: Dr. Zahi Hawass.
A rather flamboyant personality with an inclination towards stardom (and abhorrence for cell phones), Dr. Hawass explicitly schooled us on the recent groundbreaking archaeological digs he was leading and the arduous tasks he undertook in order to become the best in his field. I asked him what his greatest disappointment was, and he answered without batting an eyelid “I have none”. After the lecture he commissioned a pass that will allow us (as a group) into any historic site monitored by the Council of Antiquities including all Museums for free! This tremendous gift has enabled several of the trips on which we went.
IFSA Butler held a photo contest among us Egypt students. I somehow managed to win! Below you will find the pictures that I submitted. This is ironic considering the number of times that I forgot my camera! The photos were judged by Chris Harrison, Dr. El Komi and very kind (and famous) photographer whose name I have regretfully forgotten…I am sorry about this; as soon as I can find his name out I add it without fail. The prizes were: a wonderfully painted ceramic mug and what appears to be a wooden-ebony in-layed box of dominoes.