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College is the Same Everywhere

Time October 11th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

College really is the same no matter what country you’re in. I get up at 7:00am too tired because I went to bed too late the night before. I drag my half-asleep carcass to the showers and wash off and wake up. I get dressed and have breakfast of eggs, bread, and fool. You mix it all together and it makes a kind of breakfast burrito. We have hot tea and water and freshly puree’d guava juice. It has this odd texture I didn’t like at first but now I’m all for it. (Alternately I wake up at 8:00, skip the shower, barely make it to breakfast, and rush to catch a cab. it’s 50/50).

I catch a cab to class with Rob and Trevor, or sometimes Dan, maybe Conner or Dean. Lecture starts at 9. It is two hours with one ten minute break on the hour. I try not to fall asleep. The teachers aren’t boring but the room is FREEZING. They keep the thermostat at 16* celsius which is about 60* fahrenheit. Also as I said before I went to bed too late so I’m fighting fatigue. I’m done with school at 1:30. We catch battle to catch a cab home and the driver wages furious war with microbuses while old ladies play real-life Frogger. I get home and check facebook, look at funny pictures of cats and other stupid crap on the internet. I take a nap. Wake up, have dinner, and study for 3 hours or so. Play some old video game for a little bit, and then go to bed. This is more or less my day in the states. We don’t have class Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. This gives us time to travel or study or get lost in Alex.
All the IFSA kids have 2 classes together. One is taught by Aladdin Elbasset. No joke, his jame is Aladdin. Pronounced Ala-deen. That class is nuts. The first day he let us plan the syllabus, determine the % value of the final, the length of the papers, etc. We spend most of the 2 hour class just discussing topics in Islam.

The second class is more traditional. Except the Professor is more opinionated. He lectures just the same as in the US and it can be just as boring. It seems that like most Egyptians he has some questionable ideas. Dr Elbasset told us that homosexuality is looked down upon but is not forbidden and nobody is killed or persecuted because of it. This is demonstrably false. Dr Mansour thinks that Turkey’s government does not persecute non-islamic religions, and that its regime is very stable. This is also demonstrably false. He also takes some rather hard line stances on Islamic history. His agenda is apparent and unlike in the states, it is the CORRECT agenda. (it should be observed though that all professors have an agenda of some sort, some are just better at keeping it to themselves).

I have one class outside of TAFL, which I seriously suggest that everyone should do. There are some odd things – the teacher tried very hard to convince me that the class will be boring and not useful for my major at all. She seriously did not want me in her class. But the Egyptian students are nice and friendly but the same as in the US in some ways. Nobody wants to answer questions, nobody did the reading, and nobody remembers what they learned last year. Its a little odd that I’m the oldest kid in the class by a significant margin. Its also odd that even though I have no experience with linguistics in general or systems of grammar specifically I’m still more equipped to answer questions than these kids. Maybe its the language barrier. Maybe I’m just sooo much older than them and my acquired college knowledge is more useful than I thought. Maybe I just like to talk.

I did meet a lot of Egyptian kids. They’re all friendly and they all love to talk about politics, the differences between American and Egyptian cultures. Conspiracies.. Like this one for example. In the Yom Kippur war, Egypt retook the Sinai. The 6th of October is a national holiday akin to the 4th of July. Israel ended up coming back from the combined Syrian-Egyptian offensive and fought to within 60 miles of Cairo and 100 miles of Damascus. America gave Israel all kinds of planes and tanks and ordinance and other help. We may have even had black ops on the ground helping turn the tide. Egyptians are convinced that American soldiers fought on the ground in Egypt, against Egyptians, and that is the only way Israel won the war. According to one Egyptian student the IDF is so incompetent  and lazy, and the Egyptian offensive was so utterly devastating, that there is no way Egypt could have lost unless the American Army was involved directly. The reason nobody knows about it is because they wore Israeli uniforms. When I press them for sources of any kind what so ever they all tell me there are none. But they say it without blinking an eye, as if this should be obvious. I can’t find any suggestion of this on the internet anywhere, and the internet is the greatest source of lies and nonsense that mankind has ever devised. Is it true? Maybe (probably not). But Egyptians are generally convinced that this is the obvious and undeniable truth.

In any case I’ve added 10 kids to my facebook friends list and half of them must be named Muhammed.

Thats actually one of the nice things about being in Egypt. As much as I seem to complain about the bad stuff, the people here are generally very nice. All Egyptians hate the taxi drivers and in general they seem to be the worst people. But everyone else is really nice. I love the students. There are a bunch of Egyptians on my floor and they’re all pretty cool. Everyone is so eager to help me with my Arabic and I try and use it when ever possible. One funny thing that I hadn’t anticipated is learning names. Learning the names of Egyptians is like learning new vocabulary. The names are hard to pronounce and difficult to remember sometimes. But luckily most of them are derivative of Mohammed or Ahmed.

There are some cool American kids here too and I always have someone to hang out with if I get lonely.

So this video is part 1 of 2 from our taxi ride home. I just rewatched them and they’re a bit hard to follow. We’re heading back from City Stars in 2 cabs. In this video the cabs are keeping pace because one driver doesn’t know how to get to our hotel.  The next video just shows general traffic. It should be noted though that this is fairly late at night and after watching this, it’s still a light traffic night. I’ll try to take some video on the way to class when it’s bright out so you all can get a real solid idea.


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

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