31 January, 2010

School, The Pyramids and Winning the Africa Cup...Also, Some Housekeeping Items

As I write this to now, Egypt has just won the Africa cup. And while I didn't go out and watch it with everyone else because I didn't want to sit on the floor in a very crowded place where I probably couldn't see the television, I can still hear all of the excitement from my living room as I watch the festivities on my own television. Not going out also gave Ann (one of my roommates) and I a chance to try the whole "order online and it will arrive" things. I have to say the swarma was delicious. 

But, enough about the Africa Cup and sports. As most of you know, I don't really pay that much attention to them at home anyway. I think the only reason I pay attention here is because it's part of the culture and if I truly want to experience the culture, you have to get involved with everything...including the sports. 

So, I started classes today which was very excited. I had MSA (Modern Standard Arabic), which I will most likely be dropping for another content course which should help me graduate on time and I had Introduction to Ancient Egypt with Dr. Randa, where she gave us a very big overview of Egyptian society starting with the Pharaohs and ending with the present. I was supposed to have my Customs and Manners class, but upon reading the syllabus we discovered that the class won't begin until Tuesday. But, it was fun thinking for a while that the professor forgot about the class. 

Tomorrow is going to be another fun day. I start with Egyptian Colloquial, followed by a break (which is where my Intro to Ancient Egypt class is normally held), followed by Arts and Hieroglyphs (that's what I'm most excited about) and then International Relations (which is most likely the class I will take in place of MSA). It's going to be a very long day, but I know it will be fine. For now anyway. 

I'm starting to realize that this semester is going to be one of the hardest semesters I have encountered. It's going to be a lot of work combined with a lot of trips and wants to see all that is Cairo. It's not going to be as simple as Prague was, where I just focused on my movie and the few papers that I had to write. This is an actual semester of study. I'm both excited and scared. 

Moving away from the terror that is the start of classes, yesterday we went to see the Giza Pyramids and on Saturday I went with Ann and Shruti to an open air market in Islamic Cairo. It was a lot of fun, but very stressful. The architecture was cool though. The pictures to the left are some that I took when we were there.

Now, to begin the pyramids segment of the blog, I have to start off by saying that I had no idea we were living that close to them. We literally boarded the bus and in about 45 minutes had found the pyramids. I thought they were somewhere off in the desert, but really they are just on the outskirts of the city. 

We started with seeing the Great Pyramid, which is the biggest of the three in the Giza complex and then with the help of Dr.Randa with learned about some of the other tombs in the area. She also read some of the hieroglyphs to us, which was cool. I'm excited to do that! I also had the opportunity to go inside a small pyramid belonging to Queen Hetepheres of the 4th Dynasty. It was pretty cool, but not very picturesque inside. We also took a tour of the boat house, which had a boat that they found in one of the boat pits in it. Wow, that was a big boat. 

Once we were done with the boat house, we went up to see a panoramic view of all three pyramids at the Giza plateau. It was here that I got to ride a camel through the desert sands behind the pyramids. I absolutely loved riding a camel and would have loved to be able to ride it all by myself like our program manager Matthew, who apparently used to ride them a lot when he lived in Yemen. I think this was the highlight of the day. After we rode the camels, we boarded the bus and went down to see the Sphinx which guards the entrance to the pyramids. The entire time we were heading down there, the only thing in my head was from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, when the brothers sing, "But, in Egypt there's food going spare. They've got corn, they've got meat. They've got fruit and drinks. And if we have the time, we can see the Sphinx." After all these years, I'm still a musical theater kid. And I must say, the Sphinx was rather impressive. I'm sad that it is missing a nose and headdress, but they are doing a great job of restoring it.
The pictures from above are the ones I took on the trip to the pyramids. They are me in front of the panoramic, the Sphinx, the camel I rode, all of my group on camels, and us actually riding the camels. There are pictures of me on a camel, I just didn't take them.

Well, that's about all of the adventures I've had so far. But, before I sign off, I'm going to take care of a few house keeping items. So, here are the pictures of my apartment. 
They are my personal bathroom, my room, the living room, the dining room with my roommate Ann, the stairs, and the kitchen.

And if you feel the need to send me mail, you can mail it to this address: 

Becky Mezzanotte 
27 Refea Street
2nd Floor Apt. 202
Dokki-Giza, Cairo 

I can't guarantee that any kind of mail will make it to me as the mail system isn't very reliable here. Also, please do not send me packages because in order for me to receive them, I would have to pay a customs fee which I really don't want to do. Thanks. 

And I think that about wraps everything up here. More to come! Life is just starting to get interesting here.

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