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A Week in the Life of an Egyptian Study Abroad Student

Time January 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Marhaban!

Emily, Sarah, Matt and I have successfully completed our first week of classes!! Wa hamdu lilah! For this post I want to give you a snapshot of a day in the life of a student here (so far). Turns out it isn’t “much” different than attending class back home. :)

Our first day of classes had a comical start. We locked ourselves IN our apartment. As an extra security measure we locked the door from the inside but when we tried to unlock it, our keys wouldn’t fit in the keyhole. It wasn’t until Matt came to “save us” that we were able to get out. Our first classes start at 9 everyday but in order to get there on time we generally have to leave from our apartment at 8:15. That is one major difference from my college that is quite frustrating… I am so used to rolling out of bed thirty minutes before classes start. Another thing too, you have to look semi decent when attending classes. I try to dress as I would going out to the mall/shopping or the movies back home. Cute but it can still be comfortable. Make-up isn’t necessary, but I find I feel much better when I’m wearing it than when I’m not. From 9 until 11 we attend our first class. Yes, all classes here are 2 hours long. The majority of my teachers like taking a 10-15 minute break at the halfway point, but sometimes they don’t and we go the whole way through. You get used to it pretty quickly. What is harder to get used to is the 30 minute lunch break. That is hardly enough time to walk to a cafe, order, eat, and get back. The last couple of days we have skipped lunch and instead had quick snacks from the apartment or at Cinnebon (YUMM). After break is another two hour class and then we’re done for the day. All of my classes are going to be in the same room. The structure is set up really similar to high school which is hard to get used to after being in college for so long, but it’s coming along.

Matt and Emily enjoy a snack at the Cinnebon near our classrooms. The second floor overlooks the Mediterranean Sea   The two of us also enjoying Cinnemon rolls atop the Cinnebon near the University

The three of us enjoy a snack at the Cinnebon near our classrooms. The second floor overlooks the Mediterranean Sea right across the Corniche.

My daily diet haha A staple of my daily diet haha :)

Oh! My biggest complaint about the program thus far, all of my classes are ONLY with IFSA students. Not to say I don’t enjoy Emily, Matt and Sarah’s company, but I thought I would at least have ONE class with real Egyptian students. We haven’t gotten our language partners yet but once we do, I fear I am VERY dependent on them in meeting any Egyptian students. If he/she doesn’t want to socialize or take me to events with his/her friends, I will never meet an Egyptian my age. That makes me very nervous and disappointed. How am I supposed to conduct thesis research on the youth of the country if I never meet one? In shah Allah, everything will be fine.

In celebration of the Prophet Mohammed's birthday we had treats and a performance by a Whirling Dervisher       Another picture of the Whirling Dervisher

In celebration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday we had treats and a performance by a Whirling Dervisher following classes on the 23rd.

On a brighter note, here’s a funny story from this week: One day we were blessed with an hour and a half for lunch so we decided to wander a bit and see what we could find. We ended up discovering a new restaurant that offered mozzarella sticks. I was so excited. I went up to the cashier to order a bean (fool) sandwich and some mozzarella sticks, but naturally, she had no idea what I was talking about. I used as much Arabic as I could but in the end I just agreed to the sandwiches she kept thinking I was trying to order. They weren’t. I ended up with some type of chicken with mayo and ketchup in a pita and cheese and green tomato and pickle on some sandwich bread. They were pretty terrible, but luckily, it only cost me about 60 cents so I wasn’t too heartbroken haha.

After class is another 35 minute ride back home. Tip: The cab ride is ten pounds every trip (about $1.25) so be sure to bring or get A LOT of small bills. We have struggled to find places that can make change and usually when we exchange money/ use an ATM we only get big bills. Once home we usually eat an actual lunch or grab a snack. Then we work on homework, blog, watch a movie, etc until 7 when we head to the gym downstairs for our daily fitness lessons. That is probably the best decision we have made thus far. As I have said before, it’s so expensive but it is such a stress relief and fun (and can be a hard workout)! Following our workout we enjoy dinner, either made or ordered in. One AMAZING difference between home and here.. everything and I mean EVERYTHING is delivered. McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, random cafe’s, pastry shops, sandwich places, restaurants.. all offer delivery. By ordering over the phone we can avoid the traffic and the taxi fares, which is definitely something to consider when traveling anywhere. Sidenote: food here is generally very cheap compared to American standards. For example, a giant bowl of spaghetti with garlic bread cost me 25 pounds, which is about $3.60. Following dinner its more hw or a movie, then bed.

Our group at a restaurant right along the Corniche enjoying some lemon with mint

Our group at a restaurant right along the Corniche (a typical late lunch/early dinner) enjoying some lemon with mint

Our attempt at making Nutella Cake. We wanted something sweet to go along with our movie night

Our attempt at making Nutella Cake. We wanted something sweet to go along with our movie night yesterday (Jan. 24th). Just an example of some of the things we do after class.

It has been a pretty hectic week but overall I am looking forward to the rest of the semester. I worry about the Islamic Culture and History class, however. I fear that although I will learn a lot, the discussions will get very emotional. We’ve only had two classes and I’ve already had to bite my tongue on a couple of instances…we’ll see how the rest of the semester goes. But I am really excited about my Politics and Media class, which revolves entirely around the Egyptian Uprising/Revolution. And speaking of the Revolution, today marks the 2 year anniversary of the start of the Egyptian Revolution. Currently we are all glued to the tv, not knowing what to expect. We heard some demonstrations earlier today but they were too far away to see. I will post later on what happens by the end of the weekend. For now, it seems peaceful, but anything can happen. I am not scared for my safety at all, we are in a very nice neighborhood and Westerners aren’t currently being targeted. It is actually very exciting to be here “in the middle of” everything. I hope all stays peaceful and a transparent, secular democracy wins the day.

I promise I will keep everyone updated on what happens! Please stay tuned for that and for pictures of the apartment!

Ma’a Salaama!

 

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