So…I’m in Egypt. You know…just hanging out. haha. Cairo is crazy. It’s busy and loud and the traffic is INSANE and it’s dirty, but that’s to be expected when 16 million + people live in one confined area, you know?
School started today. Again…insanity. Because it’s a brand new campus (that’s not finished yet, might I add…there’s construction going on all over, some classrooms don’t yet have electricity or desks or chalkboards or anything…) no one knows anything. Everyone is just as lost as I am, so I guess it works out. And even if you do happen to find what you need on a map, it might not be there because the buildings aren’t quite finished yet. Many offices have mystery temporary locations and whatnot…it was chaotic. And my first class is at 830 (but during Ramadan it’s at 8 because everything is pushed up so we can have a break for Iftar, which is when they break the fast) so I have to catch the bus at 630, because the bus ride is about an hour and 10 min to campus, so I get up around 5-515 ish. It’s early, but I mean, I used to have to be at work at 415, and wake up at 3, so it’s totally doable…Oh! haha so…one of my classes was supposedly in the humanities and social sciences building in room 1016, ok? So I’m looking and looking and I find 1015 and 1017 right next to each other, and i’m like…hmm? where could it be? then across the hall I see the men’s room, which is numbered 1016! hahaha so my choir is in the men’s room? wtf? and there’s another girl there with me, looking for our class, and someone tells us to go to the registrar to try to figure this situation out, and they tell us it’s in the performing and visual arts building (which totally makes sense) but no one will or can tell us the room number, and these buildings are freaking BIG and confusing and you can’t really tell where one building ends and another building begins…it’s craziness. I never did find that class. I’m gonna try to email the professor to see if he can tell me what’s up. Who knows?
I’m just trying to go with the flow. If I stress out about these things, I’ll die. everything over here seems to be totally disorganized and late and no one knows the answer, but will tell you anything to go away, even if it means pointing you in the wrong direction. I went in and out of one particular building so many times, the guard knew me by name…already. haha it’s funny.
we went to Alexandria this past weekend with ResLife. it was BEAUTIFUL! our hotel was right on the Mediterranean sea…how cool is that? we saw lots of neato old stuff too, like a roman amphitheater and stuff…it was cool. We also saw the Alexandria Library (Biblioteca) which is the second largest library in the world, next to the Library of Congress. The architecture is beautiful, too! It’s quite amazing. i got some sweet pics of the sunset over the sea too…it was gorgeous. We also saw the catacombs, which were awesome. I thought I would be more creeped out being so far underground at the burial site of so many people and horses (true story!) but I wasn’t. I guess that’s good. There were also quite a collection of horse bones they left down there and put in a case to see…eerie. We also saw the Citidel which was pretty neat. The structure itself wasn’t really all that interesting, but the views were incredible. I took a lot of neat pictures.
And! The most interesting part of the whole weekend was our attempted feluca ride. Ok, so it was not in the original Itinerary, but the people running the trip thought it would be neat, since we had an entire afternoon free, to set up a boat ride on the Mediterranean for whoever wanted to go. It was going to be super cheap (L.E. 15, so about $3) so naturally, I was all about it. It took a bit of planning to get those who wanted to go on the feluca on to one bus and those who wanted to go back to the hotel to wander the city on their own on the other busses, but we made it work. The tour guides made many phone calls to make sure we had enough boats for everyone, and we were off. When we get to the dock, and one boat was filled, a fight broke out on the dock. There was yelling in Arabic, and I didn’t know what was going on. It was between two Egyptian men, both yelling what I assumed were curses. The fight became moderately physical, and they got pretty close to me. I was afraid I was going to get pushed into the water. We all moved back, but since we were all international students, most of us with limited Arabic skills, we didn’t really know what was going on. they continued pushing each other down the dock, yelling. After about 10 or so minutes, the word got around that the fight was about whether or not to let the foreigners on the boats. Ultimately, we left, without the feluca ride. It was interesting to watch the whole thing play out. I didn’t feel especially threatened, mainly because we were in a relatively large group and our guides were Egyptian, but had I been alone, or only with other International students, I definitely would have felt threatened. It’s times like that (and…well…all the time) that I wish I understood Arabic better.
So last week I took a Survival Arabic course. It was WONDERFUL! Definitely worth the time and money. I now know enough to be able to function around the city. I can talk to a cab driver and negotiate a price. I know the vocabulary for the things I might need at a grocery store or a market. I can ask directions and ask the price of things. I can order in a restaurant. It was quite helpful. It was A LOT of information in a short amount of time, but I took detailed notes and can continue to study and learn the vocabulary on my own. the last day of the class was neat too, because our teacher took us out around the city to markets and stores and to a koshri place (only the best food EVER and my new favorite meal made of macaroni, rice, chickpeas, lentils, marinara sauce, garlic vinegar sauce, and hot sauce to taste…it’s awesome) and we were able to practice what we learned with assistance before we had to go off on our own. It was really fantastic.
So this may be weird, I know…but i kinda miss rain. I should get over it, because it might rain once while I’m here, but i enjoy a good afternoon thunderstorm once in a while, and those just plain don’t happen around these parts.
I haven’t been to the pyramids yet. i know, it’s nutso. i’ll probably try to go next weekend.
I guess that’s all the news I have. Oh! except that I also went to the Egyptian Museum last week. It was awesome. It’s there where all of King Tut’s tomb business is, and there were mummies, including Ramses II. They had all sorts of Egyptian art and coffins and jewelry…I really enjoyed it. It was also neat because I went with 3 other girls, 2 of whom are Archaeology/Egyptology majors, so they were able to explain what a lot of the symbols meant and why something was especially cool and/or controversial among scholars. I learned a lot from them, which was fun.
I guess that really is all the news I have. Hopefully I’ll find my classes tomorrow. At least I know the first one, because it’s the same as my first class today. I can only hope my laundry dries by tomorrow morning. I learned after washing everything I own that the only working dryer in the dorm is now broken, so all my things are strewn about the room in hopes they may dry. I’m taking it in stride, though…this is certainly a more energy efficient way of doing things! plus…wearing wet clothes tomorrow will help keep me cool, because that sun is even hotter out in New Cairo, where the new campus is…it’s in the Desert for real. i had to dump the sand out of my shoes when I got back this afternoon. That’s Egypt, for ya! 🙂
Please excuse my poor capitalizations and stream-of-consciousness writing.