the Study in Study Abroad
Even though the protests are the hot topic and on everyone’s minds right now and partially because the only Egypt people are seeing right now is the Egypt in protest, I am going to write about my classes. The protests are critically important and merit attention, I am not refuting or diminishing that. Yet the protests are about listening to the voice of the Egyptian people and as a foreigner who has no desire to be arrested and deported (the end result of any non-Egyptian found even observing, let alone participating in the protests) it is their story and not mine to tell. I will write about my life in a protesting Egypt and that, my friends, involves going to classes.
Two of my classes are exclusively in Arabic and two are in English. But to be honest, I learn a comparable amount of Arabic names and transliterated Arabic words in my classes taught in English as Arabic vocabulary in my Arabic classes. My two classes in English are Islamic History and Culture and Arabic Poetry and Literature. My fellow IFSA-Butler students, Elise, Matt and Sarah take Islamic History and Culture with me. I’m enjoying our small discussions. Thus far we covered the beginning fraction of the introduction of Islam to the tribes in the Arabian Peninsula and the first four Caliphs. My poetry and literature class is a tutorial so I am the only student. Starting with the Mu’allaqat, which are the 7 pre-Islamic ‘Hanging Poems’ displayed on the Ka’ba in Mecca. Not only are the poems structured so differently from the English poems I’ve studied, but their words also offer me insights into an entirely different culture than even the one I’m glimpsing here in Egypt.
In between classes, we mingle with students from different programs. I am really looking forward to meeting my language partner. That will happen once we have a better sense of the trend the protests are taking. Then insha’alla the Egyptians and us foreigners will feel freer to move about the city. For as of right now, we go to classes and come home straight away to be sure to avoid the protests that begin to form once work and classes let out. Thankfully our neighborhood is completely safe, probably safer than my collegiate-home in Baltimore. Exploring around our neighbor, we have stumbled upon nice local markets, and vendors. The owners of the few of them seem to be enjoying our language exchange: the practice their English and we respond in Arabic. Now I’m hoping for Arabic responds! But it will come with time (kul haga baud shwya).