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

All’s well that ends well

Time July 14th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Chile | 1 Comment by

I’ve been back in the U.S. for a little over a week now. At first, being home felt surreal in a way that I couldn’t quite explain right when people asked me. Everything felt familiar yet strange at the same time. I felt like I was stuck in some kind of limbo between two worlds, still processing the sudden jolt of change. I suppose some people would call that culture shock or, in my case, reverse culture shock. I guess I just thought that culture shock would be more…shocking. It does feel strange to talk to my friends in Chile with the sudden realization that I am now thousands of miles away from them. But, overall, it doesn’t feel shocking to be home, it is and has always been my home. Being home has been quite the opposite of shocking to be honest. In a lot of ways, it’s already starting to feel like I never left. And that is an even more unsettling sensation. How could it be that everything that happened in the past six months could so suddenly start to fade into the background as I return to my life before studying abroad? It’s strange to think that it could really be that easy. It’s strange to think that I don’t feel strange at all.

But, still, I know that there are a lot of things about my time living in Chile that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The way that I look at situations in my life has changed forever and, without a doubt, for the better. I hope to continue to be a more positive person, someone who has a better understanding of the importance to make the most of each day and each interaction with others. I took the time to strengthen that side of me in Chile and it made me a much happier, more fulfilled person. I hope, more than anything, that I never lose sight of that as I return to my normal routine at Butler.

The truth is, I think I have been struggling to write this post all week because what I really feel is filled to the brim with paradoxes. I feel the same but different, comfortable but out of place. Everything is familiar but foreign. I am changed yet constant. The back and forth makes me restless, nerves unsettled. But thankfully, being back on campus has been a great distraction from my jumbled emotions about leaving Chile. I don’t think that I ever particularly noticed or appreciated how lusciously green the summers in Indianapolis were before now. It really caught my attention the first day that I was here because of the stark contrast that it poses to Valparaiso’s arid flora. It feels great to be back, soaking up the summertime, after the past few months of winter weather in Chile.

I have, at times, found it a bit hard to talk to other people about studying abroad. I never know how to answer their questions in a way that I feel like truly captures the experiences that I want to share with them. People tend to ask me very broad questions because they are unsure of what to ask, such as “what was your favorite part?” Which, obviously, is impossible to answer because it requires somehow funneling down such a complex six months of my life into one, neatly wrapped “favorite part.” It sounds cliché to say that it was all my favorite. But when I think back on my time in Chile, the memories don’t come to me in categories like the best, the worst, or the craziest, they come to me in a blur of faces and places that leaves me full of emotions but at a loss for words. Which hasn’t helped much with my storytelling ability.

Unpacking from Chile took longer than I had expected, perhaps because I felt like once I had fully unpacked I would have to let go of my time there in some small, seemingly insignificant way. The third day that I was home, I spent hours just sitting in the middle of my childhood bedroom amongst the chaos of all of my clothes and belongings and just looked at it all. But eventually I realized that I was being silly and began to pack for school. A few days before I left Chile when I was feeling sad about leaving everything behind, my Chilean mom told me, “Hay una temporada para todo,” which means there is a season for everything. The weight of what she said to me didn’t fully hit me until I was back home, but since then it has helped me more than she probably knows. As I discussed in my last blog post, there is a season for all things in life. So, although my season in Chile has passed, I know there will come a time soon that I will be able to go back to that beautiful county whose people welcomed me with open arms and make even more indescribable memories.

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7 Mistakes I Made as an American in England

Time October 17th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, England | No Comments by

I thought going to an English-speaking, Westernized country meant “culture shock” would be minimal. I could not have been more wrong. The differences between England and the U.S. are too many to count and I have had my fair share of uncomfortable experiences. Today I share with you 10 instances in which I really felt like a confused foreigner in hopes that you will learn from my experiences.

1. Not looking both ways (or the right way) when crossing the street: I remembered that they drive on the opposite side of the road here when I got into my taxi at the airport. It was so strange; I felt like the entire car ride I was slightly leaning to the right as if my body weight would move the car over to the side that I normally drive on. While I would never EVER attempt to drive in this country, I failed to realize that this difference in road movements affects me even as a pedestrian. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I lack the patience to wait for the “WALK” sign at a crosswalk. If I see an opportunity, I usually decide to cross. This has proved to be a dangerous habit if you look the wrong direction in search for cars. In an attempt to avoid the national health service, look both ways before crossing the street.

2. Yellow light does not always mean stopping: Along the same lines of different road rules, here in England (and I have heard this applies to other European countries) the stoplight uses yellow on two occasions: before red AND before green. So if you’re like me and you see a yellow light as essentially the go-ahead to begin crossing, this is also another dangerous habit. Unless you were watching the stop light for awhile prior to know which color is going to follow the yellow, it is not safe to assume that the car is stopping. On a slight tangent I think the use of yellow to essentially mean “get ready to _(stop/go)__” is really interesting and I wonder whether it was added or if the U.S. eliminated it.

3. Bikes are just as dangerous: My final advice to fellow pedestrians is to be wary of cyclists. In my hometown people who bike are usually doing so recreationally – some in the sidewalk and some in the street. Here biking is an entirely different ball game. It is an efficient form of transportation and they are ruthless. My eyes widen as they weave around massive, double-decker buses and as they speed right towards me coming down the street. I have not seen it myself, but my friend told me that today he witnessed someone get hit by a bike and just hearing about it made my body ache. Treat bikes with the same vigilance as you do cars (and honestly maybe more because since they are smaller they can easily sneak up out of nowhere) and hopefully that won’t happen to you.

4. Be cognizant of operating hours: Unlike in the U.S. where things are open 24/7 for 7 days a week, most businesses in England have much more limited operating hours. Stores close much earlier and Sunday evenings are a ghost town. I discovered this the hard way when my friend and I got a late dinner and wanted to grab some dessert sweets from a grocery store on our way back. Our chocolate cravings were sadly unfulfilled as we walked past the dark doors of every store. At the same time stores do not always open as early either. It is completely normal for a store to open at 10:00 am as opposed to the 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM that I consider normal back in the U.S.

5. Mind your manners: This tip is more applicable to Oxford students. While it varies amongst colleges, most Oxford colleges have some sort of formal dinner. At St. Catz we have the option to go to a formal dinner (called “hall” short for formal hall) every weeknight. While dress code is completely casual, the dining etiquette is more refined. You sit in these long tables with attached desk lights, which almost make you feel like you should be studying. Every seat must be filled by top to bottom, so you can easily be seated next to a stranger. There are waiters, multiple courses, and you can BYOB. Something very important about hall is learning the etiquette. Luckily, the people I was seated next to at my very first hall informed me of all the rules before I broke too many of them. A notable rule is that you cannot eat until everyone around you has received their food – something that I wish I had known before I started inhaling these amazing potato wedges.

6. BYOB (with the second b standing for bags): Because England is much more advanced in terms of environmentally-minded rules and regulations, it costs money to purchase plastic bags at the grocery store. During orientation I attended the freshers fair/activity fair/clubs and societies fair where different student groups try to recruit new members. After the event I had 3 different canvas bags which have all been repurposed into grocery shopping bags. Even though the plastic bags are cheap, it is much easier to carry groceries in a sturdier bag. Sometimes when I know I’ll need a substantial amount of groceries, I go with an empty backpack. Depending on where your college is, the walk to the grocery store can be over 20 minutes and it will feel like more than that if you have plastic bags digging into your arms.

7. Don’t be offended if people aren’t outrageously friendly: This is something I learned at orientation but also experienced first hand on my way there. I took a quick train from Heathrow airport to central London. As one would expect, I was bursting with excitement and wonder. The train was pretty full, so I placed my luggage in the racks and sat in the closest open seat next to this man. I turned to him to ask if the train went to Piccadilly and his eyes opened so wide. He nodded twice – silently. I didn’t fully realize this was probably him telling me that he was not interested in talking to me, but my excitement was so high that all I could do was look out the window. I made some remark about how beautiful the city looked, how it was my first time in England, and how I’m so eager to begin my journey. He looked at me with a slightly bewildered look on his face. I asked him if he had any recommendations on what I must do while I am here and he responded with, “Not particularly.” At that point the train was arriving in the station, but I had gotten the message. This man was not interested in having any sort of conversation on the train. After an orientation lecture on cultural differences between the U.K and the U.S., I was informed that making small talk with strangers on public transportation is a very American habit. People in the U.K. tend to be more reserved in public and do not consider a train ride to be a social experience. So don’t be confused if the person you sit next to does not want to be your best friend or offer to be your tour guide, it’s not personal.

 

I apologize for writing another “list-icle”. I promise my next blog post will include pictures of campus now that I am here and really settling in for the season.

 

Cheers,

xx

Zaya

 

 

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Adjusting to Adelaide

Time July 27th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | 3 Comments by

It’s been two weeks since I’ve arrived in Adelaide, Australia. I still have no idea how to interpret the weather in Celsius, I often have a hard time understanding accents, and I still get lost on my way from the grocery store back to my apartment. In the past two weeks I’ve also traveled to two different Australian cities, gone on a food tour of Adelaide, visited a wildlife preserve, fed wallabies, pet koalas, hiked across mountains, traveled to a gorgeous island, and started my first classes. It’s been a pretty hectic two weeks to say the least and to put future study abroad students at ease: adjustment happens whether you realize it or not. Read More »

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Byw yng Ngymru

Time May 6th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Ok, as far as I understand that title roughly translates to ‘to live in Wales’ and considering I have two Welsh exams this week, hopefully I’m right. For someone who has had a long history of picking up languages relatively quickly, Welsh has been a right pain to try and learn, but that’s not to say it hasn’t been interesting. But anyway, I digress. This is going to be the long awaited (if not long awaited by you, than long awaited by me- I have been procrastinating this one since I landed here in January) culture shock post. I feel like I’m in a strange place with culture at this point with having been in London then Wales and then spending a month in Europe back to London and Wales and then being slightly wary about the reverse culture shock that I’ll be facing when I return to the US.

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Becoming Porteño

Time March 30th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, Argentina, College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I know last week (or maybe it was two weeks ago now) I talked a lot about the excursions and the exciting things I had been doing, so I figured this post could talk about my day to day life and how adjusting to life in Buenos Aires has been.

I have started classes, and as I mentioned before, I’m taking film theory, theatre, and Latin American politics as well as the required literature course. I’ve only had one film class, but it seemed to be interesting, and I’m excited to learn about the different aspects of film, and we also get to make our own short film throughout the semester! Theatre is amazing, it’s one of my great loves, and I’m excited to get to have an opportunity to look at a culture so rich and full of theatre and playwrights. It’s also very fun because we get to do a lot of improv. Latin American politics is by far my most difficult class, but it’s interesting to learn about the political structure and history of this culture. I love my literature class so much – my teacher is amazing and cool and I love reading and literature anyway.

Adjusting to the city has been kind of crazy, but also one hundred percent average. There are three stages of culture shock: Excited to be experiencing a new culture, absolutely hating everything and wanting to go home, and being adjusted to life in your new city. The first and second stages for me kind of mixed together – Sometimes I was excited to explore the city and everything just seemed surreal and amazing, but other times I missed home and my dog and my friends so badly that I couldn’t imagine being here for the rest of the semester. At this point, I’ve evened out. Of course I still miss everyone, but it’s easier as I get closer to the people here. Often, I miss certain conveniences of home, but I also find myself thinking “How am I supposed to live without (insert Argentine thing here)?”

It’s not always a picnic – speaking Spanish all the time and having to think about exactly what i’m trying to say can get really tiring, but I also notice my Spanish improving every single day. I find myself stopping at least once a class to think “this is amazing that I can understand this.” I really think that all the hard work is worth it.

My host mom is so kind and I am so grateful for her. I live with her and two other American students, we get along so well, and we laugh all the time. Also she is an AMAZING cook – I’m always happily full after dinner. On the weekends, I will usually go to read my book in the park for a few hours, then my friends and I get dinner, go to a bar, and then sometimes we all go to a boliche, but I don’t really like dancing, so I usually head home after we go to the bar. After school most days, I stop at the little empanada place by my house; they’re so kind there and they know my name and my order, which really makes me feel like this place really is home. Day to day life is pretty normal, but still different from anything I’m used to in the states.

It’s hard to believe I’m close to being halfway through the program – time has really been flying! I really feel as if I’m adjusting to the culture and (hopefully) becoming passable as a Porteño. I think it’s working because I have less and less people asking me where I’m from, and I have more and more people asking me for directions.

Next week, over Semana Santa (Easter break), my friends and I are headed to the beautiful Iguazu Falls for the full moon, and I can’t wait. That’s what I’ll be talking about next time! Until then, have a great week! :)

 

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It’s like I never left

Time December 2nd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

They told me about the culture shock upon returning home. They told me I’d go through mood swings and have a hard time adjusting to life at home, both in school and with family.

But culture didn’t shock me…yet?

I expected a lot of things to happen when I came back to the United States, but not this. It’s actually been a very smooth transition.

Everything that happened in Costa Rica, from the flights there to the flights back, feel like a dream, like it never happened. All of the experiences I had and the sights I saw seem like something out of a movie.

Instead, I’m right back in “regular” life, where everybody speaks English, accepts American dollars, knows me as the Zach Cohen the student journalist and not as Zach Cohen the barely-proficient-in-Spanish gringo. Nobody and nothing has changed.

I spent the first few days back home watching TV, sleeping and eating all the American foods I missed so much. Then I went to D.C. to see friends and step on campus (pinned below) again. As I finish penning this blog post, I’m back in Massachusetts, where I began my journey. It’s been a glorious week and a half.

But I can’t stop thinking about, and talking about, Costa Rica.

Everything in that country that always felt so close now seems farther away, more distant. Already my memory has started to fade. The vision of my commute to school, the long bus rides to jungles and beaches, all appear more hazy than they did only a few days ago. All that remains are trinkets and photos.

I do miss Costa Rica, especially the coffee, the fresh fruit and, most importantly, my host family, with whom I still keep in touch via Facebook. But that chapter in my life is closed, and I’m satisfied with my experiences there.

I learned Spanish.

I made friends. Many amazing friends.

I explored new places and experienced amazing sights.

I learned to relax and embrace pura vida.

I even got a chance to be an international correspondent.

Costa Rica will always be a part of me, and it’s bittersweet to wish it farewell. The main thought that keeps me from feeling lost is the hope that I’ll return one day.

But until then, I’m grateful for the last four months. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

***

This is my last blog post for IFSA-Butler. If you’ve been following along for the last semester, I sincerecly hope you’ve enjoyed my dispatches, both cogent and not. It warms my heart every time I hear from one of you about my blog, and I’m grateful (especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving) to have friends and family who care enough to read my ramblings.

If you’re just starting to read my posts now (or are considering studying abroad), you can find all of my posts here. Take a trip to Costa Rica through my eyes. If you’re so inclined, take a trip there yourself. The country makes it worth it. I humbly hope my attempts to portray Costa Rica do it justice.

***

Check out the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.

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Bidding goodbye to my home, and a couple of reflections

Time November 15th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Nov. 15, 2013

Tomorrow I’ll be on a plane to Miami, and from there, to Newark, N.J.

And that’s that. That will be the end of my 4-month life in Costa Rica. No more Spanish, no more amazing mountains, jungles and beaches, no more delicious tico food.

No more hometown. No more host family.

No more study abroad.

It’s all a memory. And I’m OK with that.

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Home Sweet Home?

Time June 10th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Marhaban!/ Hey!

Wow. Sitting there, at the airport in Cairo, the surreal moment suddenly became very real: I was finally going home. I realized that the next day I would not wake up in my apartment in Alexandria. I would not have to haggle with the taxi driver to take me to school. I could no longer not walk down to Tibawy and order foul and falafel or shwarma sourie freckh. I would no longer work out with my friends at the Tamarin Center. I would no longer be able to speak Arabic in the streets, see it on t.v., listen to it on the radio. So many things I would never be able to experience again. So many things that were about to change.

These last four months have been a whirlwind of excitement, adventure, independence and new experiences. I have made life-long friends and created memories I will always treasure. But there have been hard times too. I have doubted my strength on numerous occasions. I have wanted to quit, to go home. I have failed, made mistakes, and gone the wrong way. To describe my time in Egypt in one simple paragraph would be impossible, yet I suppose the main idea would be that I have never felt more alive than when I was in Egypt. For good or for bad. I have grown-up emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I have learned so much about Egypt, the Middle East, and the world. More than that I have learned about America. I have heard the way others view my homeland, despite how much it stung to listen. Being in Egypt was so eye-opening, such a test of my character while at times it was also like a giant vacation – 4 days of classes/ week, no NROTC to wake up for a 5:30am, no meetings to attend, no philanthropy events to host. I have never been more thrilled, more happy, more embarrassed, or scared than when I was in Egypt. I truly lived my time there to the fullest. I saw everything, ate (almost) everything. Everyday was a new experience, a new chance to explore and to learn. I was always on my toes or on the edge of my seat just waiting for the next big adventure.

So now, sitting on my porch at home in a sunny New Hampshire, contemplating what this trip has meant to me, my mind is filled with wonderful memories. I remember the trips I took, the friends I made, the passion I felt towards pursuing a greater goal. But it all feels sort of like a dream. All I have now, besides my journal, a few souvenirs, and some photos, is memories. What’s worse is that no one around me experienced it. When I regal the stories of climbing Mt. Sinai or sleeping in the desert I start to question if they actually happened the way I describe it. Soon the memories will fade and then what will Egypt mean to me? My only fear is losing the passion and the fire that events in Egypt have instilled in me. I want to change the world. I want to make a difference. When I was in Egypt I realized how one person could truly make all the difference. Being back in America, in my “old routine” I know it will be very easy to lose that desire but I don’t want to. My life in America may not be quite the adventure it was in Egypt but it is still an adventure and there will always be things to explore, new places to see and people to meet.

As far as return-culture shock, it has definitely affected me more than I thought it would. I still have some rather comical habits that I can’t quite break; such as throwing my used toilet paper in a trash can instead of the toilet and wincing every time I see a police cruiser. I have noticed the women wearing hijabs and felt an ache to speak with them in Arabic (but then not approaching them for fear they don’t actually speak fluent Arabic). I have also never noticed how much sports clothing Americans wear. Its everywhere! Or how clean EVERYTHING is haha. More than that, however, I have seen America in a new light. All the stereotypes and critiques I heard about Americans while I was in Egypt have instilled in me a new perspective on Americans. Now I see big ol’, waving red flags everywhere I look. The middle-school age girls at my local grocery store dressed like they were college-age women headed to some downtown club. The fat people in scooters or wheelchairs because they are far too lazy to walk. How rude people can be even while waiting in line for a bus. I remember what it meant for Egyptians to have clothes on their backs, to have proper food to eat, their appreciation for the basic and simple. I remember their hospitality and how a guest, even a stranger, can never turn down an offer for a drink. I miss these things and I miss my friends. I miss taking part in a new adventure every weekend. I miss everyday being a learning experience and a test. Reverse culture shock is also funny in the way that I didn’t realize. I have truthfully forgotten a couple cultural norms for Americans. For example, when ordering food or denying an offered beverage. But luckily I have friends and family here that can shoulder the cultural norms for me haha.

Being back in America does have its perks though, don’t get me wrong. I have already gone for a run twice in the streets. I have worn shorts and skirts and t-shirts in public. I have cranked up my favorite music on the radio and rolled the car windows down in order to better shout it out. I have driven a car. But most importantly, I have eaten every American dish that I could get my hands on. I don’t miss the traffic, the dirty streets, the corrupted police of Egypt but I do miss the people and the simple appreciations they have.

I don’t know how long these conflicting feelings will last about my home. I hope I can maintain some sense of objective criticism of America since I do intend to become involved in world politics one day but I also look forward to truly enjoying being home. I don’t want to forget my time in Egypt and I don’t want to forget the desire I have to change that region’s political structure for the better. Right now my experience in Egypt seems like a dream but hopefully as I tell my stories, more people will be able to relate to what I went through over there. Now, no one seems to really understand but in time I hope and believe they will. Maybe then my reunion with America will truly mean home sweet home.

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Home Again

Time January 29th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” – Carson McCullers

So I’ve been back in the US for a while now.

Being back is possibly the strangest feeling in the world. When I first got back I was exhausted. I was so happy to be home to see my family and my friends and celebrate my 21st birthday the American way, celebrate Christmas and New Years with people I love and hadn’t seen in months. And it was especially bittersweet as I had only recently found out that my family would be moving in a few months, so I was trying to soak in every moment in Memphis that I could. It was normal being back, or as normal as going home for the holidays is when you’ve been away at school.

But now that I’ve been back at college for a couple of weeks, I’m realizing just how strange being back is. I don’t exactly know how to explain my experience abroad. I loved traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people, forcing myself to be more confident in my abilities, creating deep friendships in short periods of time. When people ask me, “How was it?” all I can say is, “Amazing, life changing.” I don’t know how else to describe it in a short, conversational way. I don’t want to dominate the conversation with all my tales, which I could easily do with the amount of things I experienced.

A lot of people go abroad at my school and most of us live in a building together, so it’s nice to be able to compare experiences or commiserate, whichever we feel like. But I miss the group I went abroad with. I miss feeling like every moment was a treasure and you couldn’t waste it because you never knew when you’d be in that place, in that moment, again. I miss the feeling of adventure and mystery. And I know that I can travel here, meet new people here, see new places, try new things. But I guess it just doesn’t feel the same. It has inspired me to want to be more involved at my home university in an effort to get that feeling back. And I’m hoping that I won’t miss Ireland, and Europe, and all my friends so much as time goes on.254857_4374867528855_1012273642_n 246497_10152144752640089_301287136_n 281458_10151221655944417_124949117_n 335162_10152144749030089_453677619_o 374028_10151221654114417_1931392003_n 534582_525007824179103_1293993088_n 536548_10151271779475879_46586729_n 32383_10151221676354417_632995287_n.

But for now I just flip through all of the pictures and videos I took of all the beautiful places I visited and all the amazing people I met and hope I can travel again soon, even if it’s just across the country.

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Welcome in America

Time January 10th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I’m home now and have been for about a week. The trip home was easy enough although there was some fog over Madison, so the pilot performed an instrument landing – a dangerous and risky operation. But he pulled it off and I survived. My fiancee and two of my best friends picked me up from the airport and took me home, where the rest of my friends met me with pizza and beverages. I crashed out pretty quick though. I passed through 8 time zones on my trip home from Egypt which means that I was up for an extra 8 hours on the 30th. It was a long day.

I haven’t had much time to reflect on being home though. The last week has been insanely busy. My friends and I have been doing a bunch of gaming and then I took Amber down to Bloomington, Indiana, where she attends graduate school. Now I’m just hanging out in the library while she gets some work done.

I haven’t had much dietary stress – which we were warned about. But then I also haven’t gorged myself like it sounds some of the other kids did (one of them gained 5 pounds in 4 days!!). I have enjoyed good old American cuisine. At a restaurant I went to for lunch they served bacon wrapped in sausage and called it “Wisconsin Sushi.”

I haven’t really experienced reverse culture shock exactly. I do miss my Egypt friends and its strange to think that some of these people who I saw every day and got pretty close to aren’t going to be there anymore when I go to class. Its a little odd to wake up in the morning and not see Rob and Trevor at breakfast, or visit with the girls between classes.

I tried to cross the street last night ‘Egypt Style’ but stopped myself when I remembered that the little hand wave will not stop a wall of cars in America the same way it does in Alexandria. I also threw a little rant when I realized that my bottle of water cost me 15 pounds. I think the biggest “culture shock” experience for me has been that people just aren’t as interested in my experiences as I thought they would be. I saw a friend for the first time in four months that I hadn’t spoken to at all while I was abroad and he didn’t ask me a single question. That threw me off a bit. I also have to stop myself from injecting “Egypt this” and “Egypt that” and “this one time in Alex” and the link into conversations because I don’t want to turn in to a one track record. I have to watch my language a bit too. A selection of Arabic expressions that had worked their way in to our vocabulary are essentially meaningless here. My friends don’t understand Arabic and they have no context for these little phrases that give them meaning. I also have to remember that people can understand me again. I had become accustomed to talking about people or making observations about whatever because the likelihood of anyone understanding me was very low. Here I have to remember not to do that.

My mom asked me an interesting question about my culture shock experience in Egypt. I don’t think culture shock is really the right word for it. There were things I had to get used to, like crossing the street or bartering for goods. The way things operate in Egypt are less organized. Even waiting in a line to buy a train ticket is more like a shoving match than an orderly process. But for me it was just a different way of doing things so I just tried to adapt.

For me it wasn’t culture shock so much as a break down. After Sinai and my dysentery I was just done. On the flight home from Sharm I was snippy and ranted all the time about how much Egypt sucks. I skipped every class except one that week. I was just in a black funk and it lasted about two weeks. After that I was really uninterested in school. I was just fed up with the country and was ready to come home. I know other people had similar experiences. I know Josh flipped out on a guy at a restaurant. Lauren and Helen both raged at Egyptians. Everyone has an experience where something random just tipped the scales and they snapped and everyone snapped in different ways.

Its really hard to say how Egypt has changed me or what I’ve gotten out of the experience. I’ve only been home 8 days and I think it will take some time to really internalize everything that’s happened to me.

Attached is a video of some guys fishing in Alexandria. I was going through my videos and I realized that I kinda stopped bothering about the same time it became clear that the internet in Egypt was too slow to support video uploading. So the videos I do have are kinda random. But I’ll try and throw the rest of them up online ASAP.


Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University

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