Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Arrival in Alexandria!!

Marhaban!

What an amazing last couple of days!! First and foremost, the apartments are BEAUTIFUL!!! I will post pictures as soon as I have time to clean the place up a little (might be awhile haha). But in all seriousness, the way the living space is decorated makes me feel like an Egyptian princess. Huge china cabinets, a large dining room table with room for 8, a big screen tv, chandaliers, long victorian style curtains… it’s like living in a palace! I love it! :) The hardest thing about moving in was deciding who got which room (we each get our own bedroom). I, unfortunately guessed the wrong numbers and ended up with the smallest room but “mish mooshkilla!” The room has a beautiful wide window that overlooks the city and I get to wake up to the brilliant sunshine every morning. Plus, since I pushed the two smaller beds in the room together I now have one giant bed :)

After (and including) the initial move-in day, we were offered non-stop presentations by TAFL center teachers and University faculty as well as others. The presentations covered everything from safety and transportation in Alexandria to the ancient history of the city, to scuba diving (more on that later) and underwater archaeology. During the last few days of orientation we also had crash courses in Egyptian dialect. One class in particular was not very pretty… Essentially the teacher had us feeling like everything we had ever been taught was wrong. Emily and I were beyond frustrated.. but we survived. :)

Other than class and presentations we have survived other adventures… like our first trip to the grocery store. That was quite an experience. For any of you considering studying abroad in Egypt, I highly recommend bringing (or getting a care package) of peanut butter and bagels and granola bars. The staples we take for granted in the US are just not available here at all, or are completely different than what you would expect. Best example, the only pb available is creamy and you can literally pour it out of the jar haha. And especially for milk lovers.. be wary, the milk is verrry different. I recommend trying the chocolate milk boxes, they are delightful :) In some of our downtime we watched movies or tv (sorry no Netflix here!). Trying to interpret the Arabic movies has been so much fun and it really has provided much needed relaxation and entertainment. The last few days of orientation we also have had cooking lessons from a truly talented Egyptian chef, explored the Alexandria Museum, and played in the Mediterranean Sea. As for the museum,  it was much more put together than the one in Cairo, but it was nowhere near as big and it still struggled (very comically at times) with its Arabic. One of the more funny examples was “libs” instead of “lips”. I have officially decided that I love museums, I have a huge passion for history and to see some of those artifacts was beyond incredible. I was mesmerized the whole time the tour guide was speaking. I could have spent all day in there reading every single placard, but sadly we were off to the next thing. The next thing turned out to be a tour of the grounds of the former palace of King Farouk… absolutely breathtaking. I wish we had been able to get more pictures of the gardens and the palace but we were sidetracked by the Mediterranean Sea. Funny thing about that, we were wandering towards the beach when we realized there was a large gate blocking our entrance. Without hesitating I climbed over and continued towards the beach.. Guess I really am an Ole Miss REBEL. :)

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All of us in front of the Alexandria Museum, grounds of Farouk’s Palace

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The group at the beach and the ladies striking a pose along the shore

And then.. we had FREEDOM (for a day). It felt so great to do the things we wanted, when we wanted. We slept in, meandered to a local restaurant, perused the bookstore nextdoor, and, my favorite part, signed up for our gym classes!!! It’s pretty pricey but the classes are SOOO much fun. Yesterday we learned belly dancing and today we were doing crossfit and tomorrow is pilates. I am incredibly excited to attend classes every night and to continue making friends and to get in shape!

With freedom of course, comes responsbility, and this morning we began the real reason we are all here.. classes. With the first day successful and behind me, all of my anxieties are gone. Classes are just the four of us (thus far), the teachers have been great and the courseload is challenging but reasonable. We also have only a 4 day week every week (YES!!!) so that makes the prospect of traveling to other places and exploring that much more probable and inviting.

In short, the last days of orientation were busy but informative. Classes are great so far, more to come tomorrow and the rest of the week. My downtime consists of movies, chit chatting, and working out in the gym downstairs. And most importantly, I am so very happy, and so very excited to get the school year underway. There are so many things I look forward to!

Thanks for reading, and until next time,

Ma’a Salaama!

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