Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas?

**** This is an edit to this post. I swear there used to be a post here, but when I viewed my blog recently there was no post. The post title will remain to show that I did indeed intend to say something, but apparently the internet did not approve of such an idea.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I have PLANS

I just bought my plane ticket to go to Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Morocco this January. Y'all are very jealous. I can't even begin to place my excitement in this box. It was my reward for finishing my paper. Which is my other yay. So much yay today. Hehe, rhyming.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I am so over this semester

Dear Santa,
I know that I haven't written to you in awhile, but I think that this year I'll write to you in hopes that I get just something off of this rather impossible list of things that I'd like for Christmas.
I'd like the immense amount of drama that my friends have created recently to go away.
I'd like to go home.
I'd like to see a face from home.
I'd like a Reese's Cup. White or milk chocolate.
I'd like all of next semester to be as awesome as the middle half of this one was.
I'd like to be able to keep in touch with the true friends I've made this semester.
I'd like everyone who stabbed me in the back, lied to me, or made me feel like crap this semester to realize that they're assholes, because if they don't realize that now they might go through their whole lives thinking they can treat people the way they treated me, and eventually someone won't be as much of a doormat as I am and might actually put them in their place. I'd like to say I look forward to that, but I'd actually rather that that didn't happen, because that would mean that they're truly as mean and hypocritical as they've seemed this semester, and if that's true that means other people will have to put up with what I've had to deal with this semester.
I'd like to get some mail from friends back home, so I don't forget that they exist outside of a computer.
I'd like a really great hug.
I'd like some crab rangoon.
I'd like to be able to keep in mind that this is not my real life.
I would like to be able to go somewhere by myself and not have people doubt my safety.
I'd like a back rub. I have terrible knots in my shoulders.
I'd like a really plush mattress.
I'd like my life to stop being a bad Lindsay Lohan movie.
I would like one night out to go as planned. As I planned.
I'd like to be done with finals
I'd like to finalize my winter plans.

I guess some of these are more likely than others, but that's what I want for Christmas. So Santa, I hope that I've been good enough this year to get at least a few of these. Thank you very very much,

Happy holidays,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I should really be writing a paper

I got the keys to my apartment today!! I forgot to take pictures, but Tamera did and she's gonna tag me in them when they go up on Facebook. I had to sign the lease because I'm the only one who had a photocopy of their passport with them. It's in Arabic, so I have no idea what I signed, I'm gonna have someone Egyptian read it to make sure all the information is correct and that I didn't just sign my soul over to the devil.
I'm having a really hard time focusing on my work, though. I want coffee, but I only have 15LE on me because every pound I could take out of the ATM today had to go to rent and deposit on my apartment because one of my roommates is broke so I'm paying her rent until she gets her disbursement. I don't mind at all, she and my other friends were more than amazing when I was broke earlier this semester, but I can't take any more money out until tomorrow, so it'll be koshary for dinner tonight and whatever's in my room (corn flakes) for breakfast tomorrow. But I want coffee. Hell, at this point it's moving more toward need. I just can't seem to get any writing done. And I think coffee would help. I'm gonna borrow money from someone so I can get coffee.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Apartment hunting in Egypt: definitely a new experience

This afternoon was crazy in a completely Egyptian (and less sketchy than last night) kind of way. I got a call from a realtor person around noon asking if I could look at some apartments with him at 3. Thanks for all the notice, but yeah ok, sounds good. I call Tamera and Matt to make sure they can come, then call him back to confirm. We meet at the Dokki (pronounced doh-ee) metro stop at 3. We look at a place that we really like, but it's too expensive. We look at a place that felt like the 70's puked on it. And it was wall to wall carpeting throughout. In purple. And one entire wall of the living room was mirrors. It was an odd place. Think we'll pass. We look at a place that seems okay, but I didn't really like it. They we're ready to say yes, but I just didn't really want it. I felt bad, but I would've been unhappy there. That was it for the afternoon, the next places we wanted to look at the landlord wouldn't be home until this evening. So we went back to Zamalek for a few hours.
We decided to order Chinese food. MISTAKE. We called the place to order because I had been having trouble with the website. Based on the website what we ordered would cost about 130LE for the three of us. We waited the hour for it. No food. We called. "Five minute." Twenty minutes later. No food. We call. "One minute." Twenty minutes and another call later, it gets here. LE 250. UH, NO. We bring out my laptop, which shows the menu. We call and argue with the restaurant. At this point we only have a half hour until we need to be in Dokki. We tell them where they can put their food. We were ripshit. And starving. We had waited almost two hours for this food by the end of it. And we didn't even end up with it. We got koshary and rushed to Dokki, fuming.
We are taken to an apartment a ways farther from the river, by Dokki's second metro stop. first impression: it's an alley. It turned out not to be, it was actually decently paved and private/too small for cars. Upon entering I notice something else: no elevator. We climb up to the fourth floor (not too bad, at least) and discover an apartment that I like at least somewhat better than the last one before dinner. this one has seafoam kitchen cabinets, rock hard mattresses and strange couches and chairs. There are two columns in the living room, which are hella cool, I'm totally a fan. And thw color of the kitchen is adorable. And its CHEAP. We were sold. We asked all the technical questions, turned on all the faucets, inspected (and questioned the realtor about) the strange looking thing that claims to be our washing machine. We gave our landlady (who seems nice) a 500LE deposit and we'll be meeting up with her on Friday to give her first month's rent and a one month deposit, and give the realtor people their commission (a half month's rent). I HAVE AN APARTMENT. It's very exciting. And we can move in anytime after Friday afternoon when we give her the money.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In which I learn to love corruption

The beginning of my week went by pretty uneventfully, there was a book sale on campus and I bought some textbooks and a couple of novels all for around 100LE ($17.50). I'm excited for the novels, I'll be reading them over break hopefully.
There was an African dance thing on campus yesterday to promote the MAU, the model African Union, and it was pretty entertaining, especially because there was a man dressed in a gorilla suit which seemed to have nothing to do with anything. As I said, entertaining.
On the way home my wallet got separated from my things and ended up getting left on the bus. After a short freak out session the desk people called the bus people who called the driver and he found it, but today is a holiday so I can get it from school tomorrow. Crisis averted, but I have no ID, debit card, or room key until then.
Last night began one of the holiest days of the Islamic year, the new year. This means that last night in Cairo was dry. Except that we'd been having a crazy couple of days, so we weren't really feeling the "no alcohol" thing. If you're not Muslim it's not actually a problem, the only problem is that nowhere sells it. We found a place (which is not as sketchy as it sounds) and set of to a place to drink. Here's where the love of corruption part comes in:
Some police men came by and were obviously looking for trouble, but since most of us were foreigners we were safe (we weren't actually doing anything wrong). Unfortunately our one friend was Egyptian and they were giving him quite a bit of trouble. He's not actually a Muslim and so from what I've gathered he was allowed to drink, but his name was a Muslim one and so they assumed he was (and if he had denied it they would say he was lying). At this point we call our other friend who had left to get some cigarettes, and he comes back. Now this guy is apparently connected in all the right ways because he calls up someone and has them talk to the cops. Problem solved. Living in a place like this really makes you appreciate networking.

Monday, December 6, 2010

When did it get to be December?

This past week was pretty uneventful as far as class goes. Finals are approaching and everyone knows it, but no surprises. Tuesday my Egyptian Colloquial class took a trip to al-Azhar park in Islamic Cairo, which was nice, the park was pretty. We got to meet my professor's 2-year-old daughter, who is PRECIOUS, and we had conversation with some Egyptian women and some special needs kids, all in Arabic, of course. So that was cool. On the way home a bunch of us grabbed some koshary from the most famous koshary place in all of Cairo, Abu Tarek. The place that Anthony Bourdain went, for those of you who watch that show at all. I thought it was certainly not the best I'd ever had, and it was rather pricey by koshary standards. It was still cool to walk in and think "Hey, Anthony Bourdain was here. Right there, at that table."
This weekend my friends/ roommates-to-be were planning to do some apartment hunting, but we never actually did any calling. we did narrow down where we want to live, a neighborhood named Dokki, the far side of the river from downtown (so slightly farther from school) but only one bridge from the island of Zamalek, probably a 5LE cab ride. Also, Dokki has a convenient metro stop, which means I could get downtown (or considerably farther) for 1LE!
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but I'm living with my friends Tamera and Matt, who go to UC Davis and UWashington, respectively. If I'm not careful I'll be saying hella rather frequently by year's end. Our maximum budget of about 5000 LE (which is more than we'll pay, I'm sure, unless our place is AMAZING) per month for a 3br will bring us in at about $500 less for the semester than would living in dorms. I really need to get planning what I'm doing for vacations this vacation, because I need to get out of this country, which means I need to buy plane tickets.
I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S DECEMBER. All of my friends are leaving in less than 3 weeks! =(

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In which I make a new friend

My friend had a friend visit from his study abroad program in Germany this weekend (ironically the same program my Phi Mu sister Clare is at), and I got a call on Friday afternoon inviting me, and anyone else who wanted to come, to a felucca ride with them. There only ended up being 5 of us, but it was a lot of fun, and I decided I would go with the two of them to the pyramids Saturday morning. So then I went to the pyramids. Which was a long, crazy, ridiculous experience that started at 6:15 AM. I got to Tim's apartment at 6:45, and he wasn't even up yet. Travis (the one who was visiting) let me in and we proceeded to wait around for Tim for awhile. Whatever. I didn't actually care. Then we went downstairs to the supermarket he lives on top of to get bread and cheese for breakfast, and we hopped in a cab and we were off. The reason this whole expedition had to start so early was because Travis wanted to go inside the great pyramid, and they apparently only sell a certain number of tickets to go in it each day. We got some (or friend whose parents were visiting got there like an hour later and there weren't any left, so we were glad we went early). We spent what seems like forever wandering and taking pictures in every possible touristy spot (these are THE pyramids, after all), bought some statue things for a pretty decent price after quite a bit of haggling, and Travis and Tim each took a camel ride (but I wasn't in the mood for a half hour stuck on a camel with an Egyptian man, so I passed. Then there was the ripping off. Travis got ripped off, then Tim got ripped off. I kept my wits about me and avoided it. Whatever, you can't do tourist in this country without getting ripped off, I got somewhat ripped off last time I went to the pyramids, I think it's a right of passage. Then we headed back to Tim's apartment to drop off our purchases before going to khan al-khalilli, a huge touristy bazzar in Islamic Cairo. It turned out that Tim was feeling sick and so he didn't actually come with us, so it was just me and Travis that went. Before crossing the road from where we were dropped off to get to the khan, we checked out Al-Azhar mosque, which is beautiful and I'm glad we decided to check it out. Then came the shopping. I've never done so much haggling in my life. Travis was very impresses with my bargaining skills, and he got most of what he was looking for in our 3-4 hour trip. I was exhausted. Then we met back up with Tim and some other friends at Odeon, a rooftop bar/thing on top of a hotel downtown. Travis and I were exhausted so we headed back to the dorms after not too long and Travis literally fell asleep on a chair in the common room for awhile before Tim came and they went back to his apartment.
Despite being exhausted (and my mother thinking I forgot), I called my aunt when I got home because it was her birthday. I had gotten her a birthday card quite a while ago because I saw it and loved it and my mother had left it on the counter for her in the morning. She apparently enjoyed it quite a bit. I was glad I could make her smile.
The next day was Sunday and we had classes, but Travis obviously didn't because in Germany that's still the weekend. So rather than have him stuck in Tim's apartment all day, I skipped my afternoon classes (for the first time ever, by the way) and headed back to Zamalek early to go with him to do more touristy things. This was also election day. I saw a scuffle outside a polling station and what looked like some people being barred from entering a polling station. I took a picture of the scuffle. It's on Facebook. Travis and I went to Old Cairo, which is the Coptic (Christian) part of town and saw some churches and stuff, and then we headed back to Islamic Cairo because he really wanted to go in some more mosques. Which I was cool with, as al-Azhar the day before had been my first mosque, and I love Islamic architecture. We decided to try and take the Metro, which we didn't realize doesn't go anywhere near where we were headed, so we just took it downtown and saved ourselves some money on the cab we still had to take. The mosques were beautiful, and it was really cool, including one entertaining/annoying encounter with a man who basically stole our shoes in an attempt to get a tip from us to get them back. then he got mad at me for only giving him two pounds (in the future, don't steal my shoes, asshole). Then we returned to the khan because Travis wanted a few more things (he basically did almost all of his Christmas shopping in these 2 days) so I broke the bargaining skills back out. Tim met us there, and we got some yummy dinner at some Syrian place in Mohandeseen before heading back to Tim's apartment. ( I feel like I'm forgetting something in here, possible update later) After hanging out at Tim's apartment they walked me back to the dorms because I had to get some Egyptian coins for Travis and his plane was at like 3AM. Saying bye was really strange because 48 hours previous I had never met him, but we had spent most of those hours together, and I have no idea if I'll ever see him again. Probably one of my strangest friendships ever. But I certainly had a good (if incredibly exhausting) weekend.

Thanksgiving celebrations

Well, despite what you might believe because of the abrupt ending to that last post, I did still have a Thanksgiving. I went to the Maadi house with some friends, where the food was amazing. No important people were met, unfortunately, but I still had a good time. It was clear that many of the AUC students I saw there were hoping to meet some important people, but hopefully they all still had a good time with good food and good friends, because we all have a lot to be thankful for (in case you didn't pick up on the thankful kick from yesterday's post). When I got home I skyped with my family, which was really nice since I haven't talked to some of them since getting to Egypt. That night I went out for a couple of drinks with friends and ended up meeting some really random and really interesting people with whom I had some of the strangest conversations that I've had in half-assed Arabic to date. We stated out wayyy later than I had planned to because I lost track of time talking, and I slept for half of Friday before getting some work done in the afternoon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What are you thankful for?

So, I haven't updated in almost two weeks, sorry for that. I've been really busy with, well, mostly vacation. The week of the 12th-18th (ish) I went to Upper Egypt, which is actually south, but upriver. I saw a bunch of temples and statues and tombs and hieroglyphs and, well, old stuff. All the stuff was cool, but the trip was really drama-y so i definitely could've had a better time. Whatever, it's in the past. Then we had 3 days of class, which were pretty uneventful except for a guest lecture in my Human Rights in the Middle East class, this man named Joost Hilterman who talked about Iraq. It was pretty interesting.
Then it was Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for a lot of reasons, ranging from the almost spiritual to the incredibly materialistic. First, and my most important reason for loving Thanksgiving, is that I think people too often forget to be thankful for everything we have by getting caught up in what we don't have, what we want, etc. I'm including myself in this. I can certainly be just as materialistic as anyone else, and I think I all too often forget, while wanting a new gadget or whatever, that I have so much to be thankful for. SO MUCH. And so I want to remind everyone who takes the time to read this to thank you for caring about me. Even if I don't know you or know that you're reading this, knowing that my day to day craziness might bring a smile to someone's face or that knowing what I'm up to might make you miss me less (I miss y'all too) helps me to feel a little more connected to everyone back home. Some things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving include the opportunity to live in Egypt, this crazy, amazing, infuriating never dull place I'm beginning to call home; I'm thankful for my friends everywhere, especially those back home who've kept in touch; I'm thankful for my family, it was great to talk to y'all Thursday; I'm thankful that, as much as I love studying in Egypt, I get to go home in May and that I am afforded the rights of an American citizen (more on this later); I'm grateful for the internet keeping me sane while here; I'm grateful for the American Embassy for providing me with a turkey day dinner that made me feel right at home... (my bus got to where it was going at this point and I've lost that really awesome train of thought)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Upper Egypt

I just posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook, and that's not even all of them, and my vacation isn't over yet. This trip has been interesting, and full of old stuff. Right now we're in Luxor, in our hostel with FREE WIFI. For 20LE pppd. I'll write about what we're actually doing when I get home on Friday, but I thought I'd post a small update to inform everyone that I'm still alive and all. Look at the pictures. That is all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


So after a long day filled with taxis and altogether too much yelling and crying, I have three bus tickets to Luxor on the 9:00 PM bus tonight. There we'll get on another bus/train/IDK and make out way to Abu Simbel, where we plan to get to sometime tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully. Abu Simbel is the home of the Sun Temple of Ra, which is supposed to be absolutely amazing. That's all there really is to see there, and then we go back north a bit to Aswan. Aswan has more old stuff. And now when I say old I mean pre-biblical times. Just so you're aware. OLD. There we'll look at some more old stuff, go to Elephantine, Edfu, and I dunno, maybe somewhere else (I've clearly left the planning to my Middle Easten history major friend) before moving back to Luxor, hopefully by the night of the 16th so we can see HARRY POTTER two days before it comes out in the US. Also in Luxor is more old stuff. From there we will either take a train or a bus OR A BOAT back to Cairo, depending on price and how much time we have. This will all be retold in more detail once I've actually done all this stuff. I should be back sometime next weekend, maybe Thursday or Friday. Until then I will probably be mostly incommunicado, except for maybe some Facebook posts thanks to my data plan on my snazzy new Blackberry. Ma Salamma for now, nitshufuu yum il 7ad.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is me, blogging

I played ultimate this afternoon! I missed ultimate. A lot. Then I had class. Which was weird because there usually aren't classes on Tuesdays. But my professor decided we needed a makeup class because we're so behind (because she shows up 14 minutes late to every class, or sometimes not at all) and she decided that should be today. It was just people's presentations, though, so it wasn't too bad.
Now I'm supposed to be studying for my econ test tomorrow or my Eastern European Politics midterm Thursday or the presentation I'm supposed to be giving the day after break, but instead I'm blogging.
O, I never wrote about the breaks coming up. I'll do that next.
I also have to finish my CLS application before I leave because it's due the 15th, while I'm gone. CLS is short for Critical Language Scholarship and is a program run by the US State Department that funds study of critical-need languages (Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Korean, Punjabi, Azeri, Bengali, etc.) for University students every summer. Getting this scholarship would be probably my biggest short-term goal right now. It would be absolutely amazing, you gain the equivalent of one year of language study in one summer and would likely make my Arabic good enough to get into a top-tier grad program in Middle Eastern Studies/Politics.
On a completely separate note, I bought a couple of CDs off iTunes the other day and I've become completely obsessed with them. The first is gonna be me being stereotypical: Speak Now, Taylor Swift's new album. It's pretty amazing, there are only a few songs I tend to skip and all the other ones are so much more grown-up than her old stuff. I love it. The other is Doo-Wops and Hooligans, the Deluxe Edition by Bruno Mars. It features the single Just The Way You Are, as well as many other excellent songs. Kinda reminds me of Gnarls Barkley's album St. Elsewhere, another excellent album. I know this has nothing to do with Egypt, but it kinda does, because it makes me feel a bit connected to home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm not really sure what happened to my life

My mother sold our house. My room is being packed up today. It will be in storage when I get home. Not really sure where I'll be living this summer, but I find I don't really have any desire to spend it in the States. I feel no tie to anywhere. I mean, yeah I would miss people. I miss people now. But that's why we have phones. I think I'm gonna pray that I get one of the scholarships I'm applying for (Arabic) so that I don't have to deal with the fact that I now feel like I have nowhere at all in the states where I belong or have any desire to be. That might sound extreme to my family and friends and yes, I do and will miss you. But where y'all are is not where my life is. Not that I know where my life is right now, which I think is the emotion that my quasi-homelessness has brought to the forefront. I need to figure out what the F I wanna do with my life, and then I need to do it. Because as much as I've enjoyed where I've been, I don't feel tied to any of it, and I need to find myself a place. Wherever that might be.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I've made a decision

I'm staying in Egypt over winter break. I've been trying to decide what to do for a while now, and there were a good number of possibilities including going home for all, going home for part, spending the whole thing backpacking around Europe, spending part of it in Spain, or Turkey, or just staying in Egypt. One of my best friends here and I will be getting an apartment (which we were planning on doing next semester anyway) and chillin' in Cairo for the end of December and the entire month of January. We'll take smaller trips to places like Suez, Siwa (an oasis), etc. within Egypt and maybe even larger trips to places like Jordan and Lebanon. I might go to Turkey. Or Spain. Or Morocco. And I will probably spend less money in the whole month than I would have on just my plane ticket home. Now for the apartment hunting. I'll probably talk to some friends about their apartments, how they like them, how they like the neighborhood, etc. and hopefully just take over a friend's apartment when they leave at the end of the semester.

This is Egypt

My friends and I often find ourselves saying "T.I.E.," This is Egypt. But for those of you not here in Egypt, I thought it would be nice if I shared the kind of "this" that we have here in Egypt.
You frequently only get brought most of what you ordered in a restaurant, or have to ask a waiter a couple (or many) times to get your full order.
People (try to) translate things into English on menus and such, but often they just transliterate it (put the Arabic letters into English letters) so you're stuck wondering what things are and sometimes have no idea what you've ordered until it shows up on the table.
Cars don't slow down when you cross the street in front of them.
People walk along the side of the street, not on sidewalks.
Generally people don't bother getting out of their cars after an accident unless it's serious.
There are speed bumps on highways.
You have to haggle for everything or you will get ripped off.
You get anything done with enough baksheesh (tipping).
ANYTHING can be delivered to your front door. The liquor store delivers.
Everything will take "five minutes." Nothing takes five minutes.
A 2:00 start time for a class means the professor will show up promptly at 2:14. And often end the class early, too.
Egyptians are always amazed when you speak Arabic, even more amazed when you know about non-touristy things or neighborhoods of Cairo.
I have never once been asked for a single form of identification when going to a club, despite a drinking age of 18 for beer and wine and 21 for liquor.
Being white can get you a long way, or it can just get you harassed.
A headscarf can save you a lot of trouble.
I was literally wounded last night because my bus driver (of one of the nice, AUC busses) went about 40-50km/hr over a speed bump. I fell out of my seat, my computer and phone went flying (and my laptop would have broken if it weren't for the nice man sitting in front of me), I jammed my foot on the stairs in front of me and I have a huge and beautiful purple bruise just above my left knee from where my laptop came crashing down on me.
A "mop" is a squeegee with a rag on it. "Mopping" is dumping a bucket of water on the floor and pushing it around, leaving puddles on the floor.
You have to go up stairs to get to the elevator of the dorm. HAVE TO.
There are separate boys and girls sections of the dorm. They have guards preventing the wrong sex from entering. even for visiting. Not even a parent of the opposite sex can see their child's room.
The Nile is nasty.
The food doesn't agree with your stomach. It just doesn't.
Everyone skips class. Everyone. Someone was amazed yesterday when I told him I had skipped one class all semester and it was because I was on vacation.
Sheesha is everywhere. At all times of day. In every flavor.

This list is a small portion of what my life is like here. These things are common knowledge to me, yet most of them are probably at least somewhat foreign or even shocking to all y'all back home. I never really had the "culture shock" thing when I got here, but I think when I get back there will be some things that I will have to get re-adjusted to.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

O, look, it's Americans dressed like animals and devils.

I love Halloween, always have. But here love it even more. As if I wasn't already stared at enough for my whiteness and lack of veil, painting whiskers on my face and bobby pinning cat ears to my head is just a call to oggle. A few even thoguht they were particularly witty and meowed at me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A few random things, AKA I'm trying to blog more.

I decided that I don't blog enough. This experience is once in a lifetime and so I think that I should be writing as much of it down as I possibly can. We'll see how long I stick to that. Anyhow, I do have a few things to say:
Since I've been here I feel lie the amount of drama in my life has skyrocketed. I mean, this summer was the first time I had ever had any drama of my own really, and now all of a sudden, my life is full of it. I must say it's kinda entertaining at times. I hope that doesn't make me sound like a complete bitch, but drama is going to happen whether I like it or not so I've decided I might as well try to get a chuckle out of it. I mean some of the shit that's happening is my own, so it's not like I'm simply enjoying other people's misery, I've just decided that I'm going with optimism and (something that shouldn't be a surprise to those of you who know me well) smiling.
Right now I'm on my way to campus to see The Odd Couple, the play, because my old roommate (I don't know if I've mentioned Savannah on here before) is in it. It's supposed to be really funny, I'll write more about it in my next post.
I may have told a few of you that I was thinking of getting a new camera because my old one was literally falling apart. Literally. A few of the screws had come out and a couple of the panels were in great danger of falling off, too. So I went to a camera store on the way back from class thursday (just to investigate/price things out) and I showed the man my camera and what was wrong with it. He (in his limited English (I by no means could have a conversation about cameras in Arabic)) seemed to be informing me that he could fix it, so I figured what the hell, he couldn't possibly charge me too much, and let him see what he could do. five minutes later he's found screws and fixed it (don't get me wrong, I had thought of this, but I couldn't find the right screws anywhere). Now for the part I dreaded "How much?" I ask. "No problem." Made my day. And the day only got better.
Next, on my walk back from the camera store (on 26 July, the main street on the island), I went into this little clothing store that the bus always passes and I've always wanted to look in but I haven't had any money. Well, now that I have my money, I decided to give it a look-see. Glad I did. 45 minutes later I emerged with three tops and a dress for under $50. and I really needed some nice tops and a dress. The dress more urgently than I thought, I'll get to that later.
After the clothing store I made a stop at the Mobinil store (my wireless provider) because I wanted to price out some phones, seeing as I absolutely hate the one I got the beginning of the year. After a half hour or so I decided to not bother, and left. This will come back into play later, also.
That night my friends wanted to go to Cairo Jazz Club. Which is a fancy place. No jeans. Guess what Amanda brought for dressy clothes? Slacks. Good thing I bought that dress! We ended up not being able to get into CJC because one of our guy friends isn't 21, but we ended up at this other club, Stiletto, which I loved. This is the same place my friends went to last weekend and raved about. They were justified in doing so, it was awesome. I got home around 4:30. And slept until 2. It was so nice to sleep in.
Yesterday was a productive day as long as you measure in terms of anything other than homework. First, I woke up and discovered that my phone, which I had plugged in when I got home because it had died, had not charged overnight. Tried a new outlet. Nada. Crap. Well, I guess I'm headed back tot he Mobinil store. In order to have my phone fixed I would have had to go back to the store where I bought it (in Rehab, near New Cairo, where I lived at the beginning of the year, an hour from where I live now). I decided this was a sign. less than twelve hours after I go shopping for a new phone and decide not to get one, my phone dies. I had been talking to my friends and doing some research (before I headed to the Mobinil store, in case I did need a new one) and figured that I would just get a nice phone and jailbreak it before I went home and continue to use it at home. so I got a Blackberry. So far I'm loving it. It's actually nicer than the phone I had at home, but the keyboard layout is a bit different (and has Arabic on it, too (!!)) so I'm getting used to it.
After that adventure I took my roommate to the store I'd gone clothing shopping the day ebfore because she wanted some tops. They didn't have any she wanted/in the right size, so she only bought a couple of cardigans, then we headed back, bought some bananas from the fruit man, and went home. A few hours later we and Cassidy went grocery shopping. Now, I've needed groceries for like a month now. So I was very excited for this. I spent 100LE ($17) and got drinks and snacks that will probably last me a couple weeks. I then proceded to get nothing done. I did talk to a lot of people from back home, though, including my grandmother, who I hadn't talked to since I've been here. Hopefully I'll get some homework done tonight, though, because I have a paper due Monday.


I would like to dedicate this post to everyone who lent me money, let me eat their food, put up with me ranting about my idiotic school, etc. over the last month or so. I am so lucky to have found such amazing friends after being here less than two months, y'all are a lifesaver. To everyone back home who worries about me, you don't need to because I know that my friends here will take care of me no matter what happens, and I hope they all know I would do the same for them. Considering the trouble I've always had meeting people (and having them see past my annoyingness) I'm thoroughly pleased at how easily we all seemed to click. I think that the decision to go to Dahab for the second time was probably the best decision I've made since coming here. So thanks, everyone, for everything.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

So, sexual harassment in this country is ridiculous. Just putting it out there. I don't think I know a single woman here who hasn't been harassed in one way or another. Anything from catcalling, staring (somewhat entertainingly blatant staring), and meowing (o yes, meowing) to touching, groping and kissing. I don't know what it is about this country, but sometimes it drives me completely crazy. Don't worry everyone, in general it's completely harmless, but it's frustrating and sometimes downright disturbing, because the cops don't give a shit and won't (and can't) do anything about it. I mean men are /touching/ women (on thighs, butts, breasts) on the streets and in cabs and it doesn't seem to bother people here enough to do anything about it. What the F.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dahab, Take Two

I didn't think it was possible, but Dahab the second time around was even more fun than the first. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I feel like I fit in better with the people I went with, so I didn't feel awkward ever. We basically got completely plastered every night and went swimming and shopping during the day. We had a bunch of drama, but I feel like I bonded with the people I went with a lot though, which is good because I needed some good female friends. We have already hung out a couple times since we've been back from dahab so I'm hoping were all gonna stay good friends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Woah something in this country is efficient?

So I'm moving to Zamalek. As of like 8 hours ago. I packed all my things in about 2 hours, finished my classes and then took the next bus to Zamalek with all my crap. It was probably the only thing I have ever had take less than three days in this country. I'll write more after I've gotten settled.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The last few weeks of my life

It's been quite awhile since I've remembered to update this, which I guess should tell y'all that I'm having a great time! I've been spending my days either in class or sitting at one of the dining places on campus hanging out with my friends who live off campus. In the afternoons (and by afternoons I mean after 5, when I finally go back to my room) I try to Skype with people when they're online, which for most people is pretty infrequently (ahem, my family). At night I head down to the commons to hang out with my on campus friends (who, I realized recently, are all guys, yet again). We usually hang out, watch tv, run to quick (the 24 hour mart on campus), grab some Tabasco (the only hot food place open 24 hours), or hang out in the Gardens or in the commons with a guitar or two. Somewhere in there I might throw in some homework, but my classes are all pretty easy at this point so all my homework really is is reading. I generally retire anywhere from midnight to 2 on weeknights.
Weekends, however, are becoming a completely different story. This past weekend I went into the city both nights and had an awesome time, so I think that definitely needs to happen more often. Thursday went to a yacht party on the Nile, which was pretty legit, and then after we went (well, tried to go to) a club, but they wanted us to pay 100LE minimum and we didn't really want to drink anymore so there was no way we would get our money out of that. After that we went to a bar and had some sheesha and hung out for awhile before I got in a taxi home at 4:30AM! And the taxi driver got lost so by the time I finally crawled into bed it was just after 6. For some reason after that crazy night I decided it would be a good idea to go out again the next night, minus the alcohol. When I first headed downtown we headed to a sheesha place my friend likes (notice a trend here? Lots of sheesha) and hung out there for awhile before I got hungry and I got some shwarma and rice pudding at a nearby restaurant (so much cheaper than campus, yet still a bit pricey) before heading back to Zamalek (the island on the Nile where the off-campus dorms are). Once there we found ourselves at a party hosted by some guys from West Point. Remember that no alcohol thing? Well they had American liquor, so I decided to have a drink. Don't worry, I only had one, and boy was it delicious compared to the shitty Egyptian stuff I've been drinking. Anyhow the party ran out of alcohol not too long after I got there so we left pretty early, which was good because I got to catch the last bus home at 2AM. I'll tell ya, those busses, much less creepy than cabs. Even after I got back to campus though I didn't go to bed. I ended up hanging out with some people and I didn't go to bed until about 5:30 yet again.
Anyhow the point I was trying to make here is that there can be mouthing to do here on one night and too much to do the next. It kinda drives me crazy how bored that leaves me some weeknights,but I'm sure glad that I can at least escape from this campus prison on weekends.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Sep 8, 2010 4:09 PM
Now that aim basically caught up on my day to day blogging, I wanted to take some time to comment on some differences between what I am used to and where I presently am. Some of what I am used to is Tulane, some of it is from home,but wherever it is from I have surely experiences many differences here. The first thing that I would like to comment on is the food. I've been having some difficulty getting used to the food here in Egypt for several reasons.
The first, of course, is that my stomach is not used to it. Most of the time what I eat does not bother me very much but I was surprised to be sick after eating at McDonalds several days ago. It was the fist time I had actually felt ill after eating something since being here, and I was taken aback that this wasn't even middle eastern cuisine, it was McDonalds. For the record I have since eaten at McDonalds and I was fine.
The second thing I am having trouble with is the lack of vegetables. I have had so much chicken, so much rice, so much hummus and pita, so many French fries, so many pizzas, but hardly any vegetables. Even when you ardor a pizza with vegetables, half the time they forget to put on one of the vegetables. For example the other day I went to Tabasco (the main place to eat here most of the time) and ordered an Ai Broccoli pizza, which is supposed to have chicken, peppers, onions and broccoli. Yeah... there was no broccoli.come on people, broccoli is in the name of the pizza, for chrissakes. This is not the first time something like this has happened with my pizza, and it is always a vegetable that I forget.
The third thing is just the cuisine in general. Things are cooked differently, served differently, eaten differently, And none of this is a bad thing, I actually quite enjoy most of it, but it just takes some getting used to.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Woah craziness

Wow, the lat two days have been crazy. Yesterday (Monday) was the second day of classes and is was pretty similar to the first, except one of my Arabic classes was canceled and I only had one evening class. I also decided that I am gong to go on a trip with my friend Sean this weekend to Dahab, a beach town in the sinai peninsula. I am sooooo excited for it I can barely contain myself. I went to the travel office yesterday afternoon and gave them my 90 LE for my one way bus ticket ( I guess you can only buy one way) and I could barely contain myself on the way back to my dorm.
Today was awesome, but also really long. This morning at ten I had a trip to islamic Cairo, which was interesting and pretty but it was really hot and the tour guide was really annoying. From there I took the bus to Zamalak to see Sean because we've been trying to find a time when I could come down because I hadn't been there yet. Zamalak is the AUC dorm in the city, about a 45 minute ride from campus. When I got there he was at lunch with a couple of his friends so I sat for a bit and talked for a bit because we had met before and they're gonna be in Dahab with me this weekend. After that we just kinda hung out in the common room for a while trying to plan what hostel well be staying in and then we went for a walk around the island (Zamalak is an island in the middle of the Nile). After that we went out to dinner with his friends and my roommate Savannah and her friend Lacey who had joined us. After dinner Sean had plans with an Egyptian friend of his who is a tour guide here so we separated from the group to go meet up with him.
We headed downtown to walk around for a while at this little cafe that I guess Essam (Sean's friend) knew well and this is where I first tried sheesha(!). It was interesting. I would probably try it again, maybe in a different flavor. While at the cafe we got a call from Sean's friend informing us that the travel office had called him and there were no tickets left for the bus we wanted to take or any other bus to Dahab this weekend. It was kinda devastating, we were soooo excited for this trip and so bummed that it wasn't gonna a happen. We mention this to Essam and what does he say? Oh, I can get you private bus, at good rate for me because I am an agent. Our thought: OMG yes we love you. So this bus is going to cost us about another 25LE per person, but it's private and air conditioned, so I'm ok with that. After the cafe we walked around for awhile to some little shops, and I bought a pair of shoes off the street for the equivalent of $1. I mean they're pretty crappily made but they're decent looking and the price was right so whatever. Hopefully they're comfy.we got some ice cream and walked around a mall for a little bit before Sean and I had to head back to Zamalak so I could catch the midnight bus. As I am writing this my bus is pulling onto campus and I will post this in the morning after I sleep.

I am leaving this evening for Dahab so I will not be updating for several days most likely.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Day of Classes

I'll tell you, I was so excited to start classes yesterday. I mean, I'd been here more than a week and there really isn't that much to do on campus, even more so because it's Ramadan so the busses are all strange. I'm still just excited after two days and homework and everything, so I think this will be a good semester.

I had a lot of trouble getting up this morning for my 8:30 class even though I went to bed around 11:30 last night. My day went pretty excellently, though, so I'm glad I dragged myself up. To start my day I had Fusha, or Modern Standard Arabic. This is the Arabic that is written down and that is used in government, etc. I was a little disappointed that we are starting at chapter 7 because I've gotten through chapter 10, but the next class up starts at chapter 14, so I don't think I should switch. Also, my teacher brought us all presents!! They were just little mini pyramids that probably cost a pound or 2, but it made my day to get to unwrap a present at 8:45 in the morning. After Fusha was my Amaya class. Amaya is Arabic for colloquial, so my class is Amaya Misriia, or Egyptian Colloquial. This is the Arabic that people here speak at home, on the streets, in shops, taxis, etc. and will help me to get around Cairo without getting ripped off, etc. A lot of what we went over on the first day (differences in how to introduce yourself between Fusha and Amaya) was stuff that I knew from my survival Arabic class, but this guy has an odd accent so I had a bit more difficulty understanding him. After those two classes I have a long break (supposed to be from 11 to 2, but is more like 1030 to 115 because of Ramadan) and then I had Politics in Egypt. I spent 15 minutes trying to find the class, and about 3 in the class: receiving a syllabus and leaving. This would have been great if it were my last class for the day, but I had another class at 2:30 (supposed to be 3:30, but Ramadan), so I went and got my colloquial book and bought a notebook (2 seperate stores) then went to my final class of the day: Macroeconomics. The prof seems like she's trying to be all strict with attendance, but apparently it never actually works when teachers try that, so I don't know. The class seems like it's going to be really easy, it's mostly freshmen and sophomores and here you're supposed to take Macro before Micro (which I've already taken), so I think that should be an easy class for me. Finally the end of my classes came and I took another trip to the bookstore to buy my economics book (375 LE!!) and then went home and did homework and talked to my mom, who I hadn't talked to in forever (hi, mom!) and Keith, who I talk to like daily. And yes, that does say homework on the first night.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Up Until the End of Orientation

Alright I already talked about the Bedouin night, but I forgot the order I did things, and this next entry for horseback riding at the pyramids was actually the day before the Bedouin night. This is why I need to keep up with my blogging.

I spent this night horseback riding by the Pyramids. It wasn't quite what I expected but it was interesting. I discovered that the pyramids are surrounded by a huge fence (which is how they get to charge admission to something that's pretty much inside the largest city in the Middle East. Well, our 60 LE ($11ish) horseback riding trip did not get us inside this fence, what we did was ride along the fence and up some sand dunes to get a really pretty view of the pyramids from outside the fence, but it was also nighttime so the pictures came out pretty bad. It was really pretty though. The horses, however, were a different story. They were CRAZY. My roommate is a good rider and she couldn't even get hers to do what she wanted it to do. Mine was just slow. Like, really slow. I was literally the last person back on the bus. The guide people kept doing the little clicky thing with their tongues to get it to go faster... nothing. Also, my friend's horse freaked out and reared up and came down on the back of this other girl's horse, understandably freaking her out, but both she and my friend were fine. It was really scary. So yeah, the horses weren't very well trained. I think it was a pretty cool trip though, but I really wanted to get a closer-up view of the pyramids.

Insert Bedouin night here.

My Survival Arabic class ended today. While it was somewhat tiring to go to (20 contact hours in 6 days), I'm sorta sad that it's over. I feel like I learned a lot and might actually be able to speak to someone a little bit now.
Game Night. I feel about 10 years old saying this, but I went to game night here in the dorms and it was a great time. I learned a new game called mango/manga (I'm not really sure which) which is a really cool memory game that I'm somewhat decent at, though it's mostly luck. Then I played a game of Monopoly, which some of you may know I've been dying to play all summer. I had the game won and then I decided to be nice and ended up losing, but that wasn't really the point. I had planned on going to the gym but the Monopoly game went on so long that it was closed before I got the chance to go, so that was somewhat sad but I had a really fun night so that's ok. I really do need to start going to the gym, though.

Even though my survival Arabic class is over I still had to get up because I was approached last night by this girl who had signed up for the Pyramids trip today but was sick and would not be able to get up in the morning to go. So I bought her ticket from her for 100LE (she paid 140) and went to the Pyramids. Dumbass me forgot my camera on my desk, so I didn't get to take any pictures, but Tiffany has some of me so as soon as we become friends on facebook there will be pictures of me at the pyramids. And unlike the last trip to the pyramids I actually got inside the fence, so I actually got to climb on and go inside the pyramids. The pictures came out really well so I'm gonna see what I can do to find Tiffany on Facebook so those pictures go up. I got a first hand view of the ridiculous aggressiveness of the people who try to sell stuff to tourists around here. I got some postcards and some mini pyramids which I later discovered are pretty pathetic, but whatever. The sphynx is pretty badass, btw. We then went to lunch (and at this point we were all starving because the only thing that keeps you from overheating in this country is the wind, and we spent half our time underground, where there isn't any) where we had a buffet of deliciousness. There were scalloped potatoes, grape leaves, hummus and pita, chicken, kofka, and all other sorts of deliciousness.

Guess what? I had to wake up early again today. But this time it was for a free trip, so that made it worth it. We went to old Cairo, which is the Coptic section of Cairo. The Copts are Egyptian Christians (Orthodox), so we went in some really pretty churches and stuff. There was also a synagogue that we went in that was really nice. I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure it was the first synagogue I'd been in. I had a plan to go to Zamalek (the other dorms) to hang out with Sean (who goes to Tulane) after the trip, but Ramadan fucked up all the everything (even more than usual because it's Saturday) so that didn't work out very well. So I just chilled in my dorm and went to bed early because classes started the next day(!!).

Writings from the plane

I wrote this on my iPad while I was on the way here, figured I would post it on here.

Aug 26, 2010 3:18 AM
Well, I'm currently on the plane to Cairo, somewhere east of Newfoundland and it looks like due south of the tip of Greenland. We've been in the air for about three hours (out of 12). I'll tell you I'm a lot calmer now that I'm on my way than I was twelve hours ago. I'm really confusing my sleep schedule right now though, because right now it's 3:15 in the morning back home, but it's 10am in Cairo and so I cant decide if I want to sleep or not. It seems like I'm going with no, since I am still awake. Hopefully I'll be able to stay up until at least like ten tonight so I can sorta fix my sleep schedule because my body is so confused right now. Our current ETA is 5:54 pm (and varies by up to a half hour each time I look), which is about 2 and a half hours later than we were supposed to get there, and I'm expecting some pretty bad traffic because it'll be after sunset and it's Ramadan right now... About half of this plane is headed to AUC, which is exciting, I've already met a dozen people who seem really nice and I'm not even there yet. I've also had two separate people try to help me with my Arabic when they saw me studying on the plane, so so far hospitality is getting an A++. I'll probably write more when I get there, but I think this is all for now.

Aug 26, 2010 3:24 PM
I'm looking out the window at Rome right now (that time stamp is Cairo time, it's 8:24 back home right now). Our EYA is 6:06, approx. 2 hours 40 minutes from now(!!) hopefully they'll be serving breakfast soon, because the Nilla Wafers I've been munching on since dinner (at 2 am) just aren't quite cutting it. Dinner was actually pretty delicious, though, I had the chicken (other option: beef, they're not very descriptive), and it was surprisingly tender and was served with sweet potato cooked surprisingly well and zucchini that was a little undercooked for my liking but still very delicious (this opinion may be skewed by my hunger). In addition there was a square of colby Jack cheese (my favorite), a couple of club crackers, and a brownie that was AMAZING. It's strange, all the displays on the airplane TVs are in English and Arabic, and all of the announcements, too. I haven't really heard any Arabic since May, so it's probably a good thing that I'm getting slowly reoriented to it. Oh, I slept from about 4am to maybe 7:30, which is better than I was expecting, so hopefully I'll be able to actually stay up tonight to get time zone oriented.

Continued adventures in Misr

I'm trying to break up the last week into several posts so none of them is too long, but some stuff doesn't fit into dates so I'm just gonna talk about it here. On the first day of orientation (the 28th), everyone got up early to go sign in and get our welcome packets and get on with orientation. I clearly should've slept in, doing it the next day would've been much smarter. I got my welcome packet (and bag, and telephone book, and yo-yo, etc [very strange set of stuff]) and then hurried off to the very far end of campus where I was supposed to get my ID. Hurried up and waited. An hour and a half. You would think that since we had to send in passport photos with our applications that they would put those on our IDs. No, that would be efficient, and this place is anything but. I did discover that Tulane would pay for my Survival Arabic class (a 6-day, 20 hour course during orientation week), so I got in on that (it's $350, so I wasn't going to take it otherwise). It was a really fun class and I learned a lot of the differences between the Arabic I've been learning and the Egyptian dialect, making it much easier to communicate with people.

I discovered that the Cinnabon and the food court are finally open!! The problem with getting here more than a week before classes start is that none of the food places was open. The first day I ended up eating almost nothing because I couldn't find any food. On Friday I found out that there was one food place on campus that was open, plus quick mart (which is insanely expensive), so I had been eating there for every meal since then, but today I discovered that a bunch of the other food places are now open and so I had a Cinnabon for breakfast, it was amazing.

I went to an event called "Bedouin Night Sohour" this day, it was awesome. There were so many different things that happened that I'm sure I'll forget something, but I'll try. First we got there and sat down on these cushions on the ground that were actually really comfortable. Then we sat. and we didn't really know what to expect. Then some random guys came around with a lion cub (it was a big cub, but still a cub) for everyone to take pictures with. They then, of course, asked everyone to pay for their picture (they would print out a professional one for you) I said no, but my picture actually had come out rather nice. Then they came around for drink and sheesha orders. I had a strawberry juice that tasted like someone just put a pint of strawberries in a blender. it even had chunks of strawberry. It was delicious. No sheesha for me, though. I want to try some but I didn't want to order my own. Then it was dinner. Chicken and rice (well seasoned, as always) and kofka (ground beef thing, I don't know how else to describe it). Then no one really knew what was gonna happen next until someone took the mic and announced that there would be a show: dancers and a dancing horse. The dancers were... interesting (see pictures). There were people on stilts and short little costumed people and it was all very strange. and there were some more traditional looking dancers with sticks, and then a provocatively dressed woman who all the guys with sticks danced around... I have no idea. Then there was the dancing horse. It was, as you might think, a horse that danced. I guess for a horse it was a pretty good dancer, but I really wasn't all that impressed. After that we thought the night was over. It was almost 1. But no. We then had basically a dance party that lasted like an hour and a half. it was interesting to have a dance party with no alcohol and no touching. Very VERY different from Tulane. then we finally went home, got back around 3AM and I had to be up by 10 for my Arabic class, earlier if I wanted to get anything done (I didn't get anything done before class).

First days in Misr

As all of this might suggest, I'm in Egypt(!!) I've been here about a week now and I've been nagging myself to start this blog the entire time, so I finally did. Even though I've only been here about a week, I've already done a ton of stuff, mostly trips that are put on by the housing office here. they have signup sheets and you just fill out a receipt and give them money (usually between 50-150 L.E., or like $9-30) and they take you where ever that trip might be going (nile cruise, horseback riding, the pyramids, etc), and often even supply snacks.

I went on a Felucca ride on the Nile (in this case, just a river in Egypt). A felucca is basically a sailboat with a really strange looking sail. The ride was fun and it was one of the first days I was here so we did some ice breakers to get to know each other. I discovered that the ride into Cairo can range anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and that bus rides on this country's roads make me feel carsick, which is not something I've ever had a problem with before.

Another night I went on a Nile cruise iftar (افطر). Iftar usually refers to breakfast (in the morning), but since it is presently the holy month of Ramadan (more on that later), iftar refers to the meal that takes place at sunset to break the fast. Dinner was really good, it was chicken (which seems to be every meal around here) that was seasoned excellently, and it was a surprisingly huge portion (an entire half chicken), along with cinnamon rice (sounds strange, is AMAZING), these little things that reminded me of indian samosas, hummus and pita bread, pickled vegetables (ick), and a few other random things. Overall it was a delicious meal. There was also entertainment... a tanoor (تنور؟) dancer. The tanoor dancer spins round and round for his entire performance, and he has these thingies that he holds up while spinning and then he takes off these huge skirts he has on and spins those. It was cool. Pictures are on facebook. Unfortunately the "cruise" part of the cruise happened during dinner, when it was dark out, so it seemed kinda pointless. Even though the food was good and the entertainment was cool I think I overpaid somewhat for this trip.