My Apartment and Other Egyptian Things
As promised here are some pictures of my lovely apartment! I share the place with two girls, Sarah and Emily. We each have our own bedroom. Emily was lucky enough to acquire the master bedroom which has its own bathroom. Sarah and I share a bathroom. Our apartment has everything a college student needs to survive: A giant fridge, a dishwasher, a washer & dryer, a big dining room table for study sessions and.. a BIG screen tv. The only thing missing is a DVD player and an XBox haha In all seriousness, though, the apartment is beautiful, huge and simply perfect. I feel like an Egyptian Princess lounging around the apartment!
Also, after a month of living in Egypt I have come to understand some things about the country that I wasn’t expecting. Some things I have noticed/ observed that I didn’t know (or I assumed incorrectly) before living here include:
1.) Egypt is NOT a third world country. Before coming here I pictured Egypt as a dirty, cosmopolitan-desert mix with malaria and typhoid lurking around every corner. As a result I brought a boat load of hand sanitizer and even got myself a small water purifier. A bit of advice, don’t bring that much hand sanitizer. Just a small Germ-x or Purell bottle is fine. A refill tub is not necessary and it weighs a ton. It turns out Egypt has soap and water and paper towels that are quite useful.
2.) In regards to water – IT IS NOT THAT BAD. I use it to brush my teeth, I cook soup with it (not -boiled), I wash my hands with it and I have not had a single problem as a result. With that being said, I do recommend a small water purifier because I like to make Gatorade every now and then and it is VERY HANDY when it comes to washing fruit or veggies (which we eat a lot of every day).
3.) Even though Egypt is not a third world country, its sewage system is still pretty fragile. As a result, no toilet paper is allowed to be flushed, it should be placed in a waste bin/ small garbage can next to the toilet. And even more nerve-wracking is that nearly every public restroom does NOT have toilet paper. Let me repeat NO TOILET PAPER. I didn’t realize this coming here. Not only is it odd but it is the worst feeling ever (at least for me) when I realize there is no toilet paper in sight. So, for those of you like me, I HIGHLY recommend bringing a bundle of little tissue packets. They usually have them in the trial/ to go section at walmart or Rite-aid. They will quickly become the most essential item in your backpack, especially during orientation.
4.) I will never get used to driving around the city. The traffic is unimaginable. Take downtown L.A. or NYC but delete all traffic lights, all stop signs, all crosswalks, and every traffic related rule you learned in Driver’s ed. There are no lanes, cars make their own lanes. And I can’t count how many times I have been driven on the wrong side of the road. If there isn’t another car there, its fair game. Coming to four lane intersections is fascinating, no stop signs, no traffic lights. Drivers just honk to let people know they are there and that they are moving through. Honking has never taken on such an important role in my daily life. I had always assumed honking was related to road rage or solely to get the attention of another driver. Here, however, honking provides the ONLY rules of the road. One short honk – I’m here, Two short honks – I’m coming through, One Long Honk – MOVE!, etc. I often wonder if the honking system derived from ship signals (the horn and whistle).
5.) There are no rules when it comes to being politically correct here. There is literally no word in the Arabic language for politically correct. Taxi drivers will ask what your religion is and why. The cook in a roadside restaurant will ask your opinion of Morsi, of Obama, and of Bush (actually happened to us). It is quite startling and I never know the “right” answer to give. Generally the person asking is just curious and doesn’t mean anything by it, it’s just a friendly way to start a conversation. Egyptians don’t talk about the weather or use a compliment, or other American small talk topics, as a means to start a conversation. But sometimes, with the Revolution on everyone’s minds it’s just better to answer with an “I’m not sure about him”, or “I can’t decide”, or just “I don’t know”.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading! Tonight I am headed to Siwa with the gang. I promise to take lots of pictures and to tell you all about it!