Monday, February 28, 2011

If you don't speak Spanish, don't worry, there's nothing impotant in here.

De ves en cuando creo que voy a escribir unos de estos en Español porque muchas de las cosas que hago acá son e Español y por esto es más facil hablar sobre ellas en Español. La primero de estas cosas que quiero anotar son los Chilenismos. Los chilenismos, o la jargon de Chile, es muy dificil entender para todos los hispanohablantes. Además, todos los hispanohablantes hablan muy rapido (creo que es verdad en todas las lenguas) y por eso es dificil entender para los extranjeros. Pues, es muy dificil entender a los chilenos, específicamente para los extranjeros que no son hispanohablantes.
Por eso, creo que va a ser dificil entender a mis profes y a mis compañeros chilenos cuando necesito hablar con ellos sobre mis clases. No se, i espero que no va a ser así, pero ahora creo que sí.

it's been a busy week

This week was my Contemporary Chile class, which involved lectures in the mornings and field trips in the afternoons. The lectures were all pretty standard, different topic of contemporary Chile every day, from economics to poetry. In the evenings after class let out generally a few of us would wander around for awhile before going home, or we would all just flee the heat to go take a nap.
Listening and thinking and speaking and writing in a foreign language all day is exhausting, and it is much worse here than I found it to be in Egypt because my classes were in English and my roommates were American and I never had to speak Arabic if I didn't want to. Here, on the other hand, I live with Chileans, listen to lectures in Spanish, have to converse with the program directors in Spanish, and oftentimes we gringos even speak amongst ourselves in Spanish.
In addition I am learning the way of life of Chilenos, something that is different enough from our own daily habits that it requires some getting used to. The food is different (but delicious, in general), the Metro is different, the music is different, the alcohol is different, the culture in general is just different. I'm getting used to it, though. It's definitely much more western than Egypt, so it's less culture shock than before.
I went yesterday to Valparaíso, which is a coastal city about an hour and a half bus ride from here (no problem for me, since oftentimes it took longer than that for me to get home from class last semester). We went to the beach and did some wandering, and I got a pretty painful sunburn that luckily felt somewhat better when I woke up this morning.
I can't believe that classes start this week and I am actually going to have to start going to multiple lectures a day, all in Spanish, read Spanish lecturas, make friends with Chileans, and write term papers, IN SPANISH. Hopefully this will not be as ridiculously difficult as I'm imagining it will be, but I'm already seeing that this semester's GPA will be nowhere near as nice looking as last's, and I'm going to hae to work a lot harder for it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The article I wrote for the Tulane paper... A more detailed account to come.

Revolution. For so many Americans today, it is a very strange thing to think of. In the United States we have a consolidated democracy.

We vote into office those who we believe will lead our country in the right direction in free and fair elections at scheduled interviews. We have welfare programs and subsidies to help alleviate poverty and aid the disabled. We have laws entitling everyone to healthcare in emergent situations, even if they can’t afford it.

So why would we ever think of revolution? Well, we wouldn’t. As far as the state of the world is concerned, we have it pretty good.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, though, you may have noticed that this is not true in all parts of the world, and the act of a street vendor setting himself ablaze in the streets of Tunisia has in turn lit a fire in the hearts of many across the Middle East and the world.

I know it has lit a fire in mine.

Unlike most Americans, however, who have trouble comprehending revolution, I have taken part in one. I was five months into my year abroad in Cairo, Egypt, when the Egyptian people decided that President Hosni Mubarak had been in power 30 years too many, and they were going to do something about it.

I took part in many protests, but by far the most memorable were those of Friday, January 28, 2011. It did not matter if we were Muslim or Christian or none of the above. Rich or poor, doctors or students or taxi drivers or fruit vendors, we all gathered outside of mosques for the afternoon prayer – the Friday afternoon prayer is the most important of the week, like Sunday morning mass for Christians – whether we planed to pray or not.

Immediately after the prayers, we all stood up and began chanting in Arabic against the regime. For the most part I had to ask my Egyptian friends what many of the words meant, but it wasn’t even necessary, I knew exactly what was being said, and so I chanted. I chanted until my voice went hoarse. I chanted because this was a cause I believed in. Democracy. And not imposed from the outside, but one that was being demanded by the people.

The government did everything in its power to stop us, from water cannons and tear gas and rubber bullets to cutting internet and even cell phone service. But we were not deterred. We all banded together in a showing of solidarity the likes of which I had never seen.

We passed out procedure masks, the closest thing to gas masks that my friends and I were able to acquire on short notice. Others came with liter bottles of vinegar or of Pepsi, or with chopped up pieces of onion to share, all of which help alleviate the effects of tear gas when applied to the face (there’s a few facts I never thought I’d learn while studying abroad).

People I had never met thanked me, clearly the whitest around, for my support, although many were confused why I was there. Even further, one of the chants that was interspersed with the (clearly) more common, stereotypical “fall of the regime” stuff was my favorite, “Muslim, Christian, we are all Egyptian.” In a country that only weeks prior had been split along religious lines by the bombing of a new year’s service at a Coptic (Christian) Church, this show of solidarity proved to me that this was truly a revolution of Egyptians, regardless of any other identity one may have held.

I’ve shed many tears in the last few weeks. I cried because for several hours I thought my friend was among the over 300 people who were martyred fighting for freedom in Egypt alone. I cried looking though photo slideshows showing makeshift memorials of people I had never met. I also cried with happiness when I found out that Mubarak had finally stepped down after 18 days of protests because I am so inspired by what I have seen and been a part of that could not contain myself. While I could not be happier that no more people have to die for the Egyptian cause, thousands have been killed across the region fighting for similar freedoms, and I cry for them, too.

I understand that for many Americans the concept of revolution is a foreign one – why wouldn’t it be? For me, though, when I watch the news from half a world away, evacuated from the history I so wanted to be a part of, I feel that fire burning in my heart and I know that I have been forever changed by what I have been a part of.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm trying to blog more

Ok, so today I got a new SIM card (chip) for my Blackberry (no plan, just regular talking and texting). Had more boring presentations, had lunch, more presentations, met in groups and got ice cream, got introduced to our teachers (tutores) for our mini-course, and then went out in groups with Chilean cultural ambassadors (university students who signed up to come show us around). My group got ice cream and got serenaded by a street performer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Made it!

I made it to Chile. We had a long day of orientation yesterday and another today, but today's ended with meeting our families!! My sister came to get me, her name is Daniela, and my mother just got home from work a little while ago. and we have a cat. Named Blackberry. My room is cute/nice, I unpacked all my stuff and I'll probably take pictures soon. I think I'm going to like it here. Also, the whole Spanish thing isn't as difficult as I was expecting it to be =), hopefully I won't completely die in my lectures like I was thinking I would.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ready, Set...

Alright, I'm almost finished packing. Except of course for all the things that have separated themselves from my possession in the last month. Including but not limited to my wallet (replaced), camera (upgraded), makeup (replaced-ish), toothbrush (replaced), laptop charger (replaced), bracelet (not really replaceable), watch (still hoping to find somewhere) and life in Cairo (might return to someday?). Now all I have to do is finish packing my carry-on, go to the doctor in the morning to make sure my toe isn't going to fall off, find stuff to do all day, and then get on a plane to Dallas at 5:50 and another to Santiago less than an hour after that lands. Not to tough, right? Except I can't picture myself moving to yet another country. I don't want to be on another plane tomorrow. it'll make planes number 9 and 10 of 2011. and it's only been a month and a half of the year. And 4 of those flights will have been 5+ hours long. To quote something I said earlier today that seemed to resonate well, "I just want to be in one place long enough to get my head screwed on straight."

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Blog

I might continue to post things here, as I get around to writing about my winter break and, y'know the revolution, but seeing as I am not longer in Egypt, Amanda In Egypt is being retired. I've created a new blog for my semester in Chile, which can be found here.


Well, I was planning on still being in Egypt this semester (You can see last semester's blog here), but it seems the Egyptian people finally decided that Mubarak needed to go, and apparently that means it's too unsafe for me to study there, according to Tulane. I'm not going to complain, because he did need to get out, and I could not be happier that the revolution succeeded and that I got to be a part of it, but I wish I hadn't had to leave.
So I've been home for a week and a half, and I jet off tomorrow to Chile. I'm kinda freaking out, because all of my classes will be in Spanish, and I haven't spoken much Spanish since lat year. Also, I feel like everyone else has been preparing for this a lot longer than the week I've had to prepare.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I can't believe it. I know I haven't been updating (I'll fix that soon), but Hosni Mubarak just stepped down as Egyptian president after two and a half weeks of protests, the reason that I am no longer able to study in Egypt. I can't believe he's gone, I literally cried with happiness for what I think was the first time ever. I still have trouble believing that the country I lived in for such a short time became so close to my heart, but it certainly did. These last three weeks have been such an emotional roller coaster, and I am so incredibly ecstatic that Egyptians will finally be able to get on with their lives... without Mubarak.