24 February, 2010

Over the River and Through the Desert, to Siwa Oasis We Go!

In 8 hours almost exactly from this moment in time, I will be on a bus heading to Siwa. I'm both excited and terrified, as this trip is full of both historical sites and desert excursions and 10 hour bus rides. I think that's what I'm dreading the most...the 10 hours I get to spend on the bus with the other students on my program. This could either be a good thing or a bad thing...we shall see tomorrow. 

In the meantime though, I'm almost packed and ready to tackle the weekend ahead. The itinerary looks amazing and I definitely think the thing I'm looking forward to the most is "sandboarding" during our day of desert excursions. 

I will update more about the happenings of this weekend when I return as I'm still unsure at this point if I want to bring my laptop with me. And then even if I do bring the laptop, whether or not I will have internet is still in question. So, you know. Just one of those things. 

In other news, this week has been pretty relaxed I've been hanging out with more of the kids in my program and some of the Egyptians that I've met. They seem to like me a lot. The concept of friendship here is also a much different one than friendship in America, but I'll elaborate at some other point. I've also went to classes and I decided what I'm going to write my first "Customs and Habits" (this is the name of a class I'm taking, just as a reference) paper on. I find it to be a pretty stereotypical "becky"-esque paper topic. I'm going to compare the burial rites and rituals of the Ancient Egyptian society to that of the current modern day American culture. If nothing else, I get to write about cemeteries and funerals. Cool, right?

This week wasn't as exhausting as past weeks, which was surprising as I definitely did more. Sunday consisted of class and then hanging out, and Monday was 12 hours of class with a few breaks sprinkled here and there. Tuesday was cleaning around the apartment, followed by watching Sweeney Todd with Mustafa and Mahmoud, followed by class, then a scheduled AMIDEAST movie night and then some Death Note with Salah and Mustafa and chili with everyone else. Tonight was pretty relaxing to as I had class and then a guest lecture on human rights and then packing. 

The movie night we had on Monday was rather interesting. It was called Desert in the Coffeehouse and pretty much the filmmaker just went around to coffeehouses in Minnesota and asked what people thought about the Middle East. You got a variety of ranges which just goes to show how much and how little the American people know about the Middle East. The discussion we had after the movie with the Egyptians was pretty interesting, but I don't think that I want to really talk politics with any of them...it just makes me angry. That's probably why I decided on International Communication as my specialization in IR and not anything else. Media I can do, other stuff makes me mad or apathetic. 

The lecture we had today was also pretty interesting, but I do wish the gentleman would have explained more on the human rights breaches here in Egypt, instead of focusing on the upcoming election and controversy surrounding that. 

Ok, I feel like I'm rambling now. I think that means time to make sure everything is fully packed, and then time for bed. The adventure is unfolding before your very eyes. Don't go anywhere!

21 February, 2010

A Week/weekend To Be Remembered: "Walking in Memphis" and More

I can't believe this is post number 50 already. I feel like it wasn't that long ago that I started this blog and decided to track my travels through Central Europe and the Middle East. And now, I've made it to post 50! I'm impressed with me. 

So, I should probably get started on what this post is about. Friday I got to go to Memphis. Just not Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis, Egypt is a city just outside of Cairo (about one and a half hours or so). It's an archaeological park with a lot of statues from the Ancient Egyptian era can be seen. And Friday just happened to be the day that we went out to see it. We also went to see Saqqara and Dahshur, which were more pyramid complexes. I enjoyed them very much, but I guess to start this post I should at the beginning of the day and then work from there. 

This morning started rather early...around 7am, which I know is not really considered early to some, but it definitely is when you didn't go to bed until around 2am. (I promise I'll explain all of this too, just bear with me for the moment). Anyway, we boarded the bus around 8am and began our trip. Saqqara was the first stop of the day. Saqqara is basically a necropolis, or city of the dead. There are alot of tombs there from the early pharaohs, though it is still being debated if the pharaohs were actually buried in Saqqara or in Abydos. Anyway, this is where we saw the "step pyramid". It is literally a pyramid that looks like steps. It's from dynasty 3 and it belongs to King Djoser. It is importance comes from the fact that it pretty much is the first pyramid, before the Egyptians figured out how to make the pyramids look like the Great Pyramid. 

While we in Saqqara we also had the opportunity to go inside a tomb of a nobleman and look at some of the writings on the wall. I was impressed with myself as I was actually able to decipher some of the hieroglyphs, yay! 

The Step Pyramid of King Djoser. 
I also got to go inside the pyramid of King Teti. His pyramid is unfortunately falling into disarray due to the construction of it. You see, they built up piles of rubble and then just made a casing for it...well, that didn't last too long over time. But, the inside of the tomb definitely survived and it was beautiful. I also, don't have any pictures to show you of the tomb as I wasn't allowed to take any...sad. 

After leaving Saqqara, we headed to Dahshur where we got to go inside the Red Pyramid. It was absolutely amazing. It took a good five minutes to climb down inside and you were hunched over most of the way. I don't recommend going down for anyone with bad knees, backs, legs, etc. as it was very strenuous and my legs still ache from it. But, it was so worth it! Once we came out of the Red Pyramid, we took a look over at the Bent Pyramid...which pretty much proves that the Egyptians actually built the pyramids. Not aliens or any other theory like that. It has a pretty big human mistake in it and it thus "bent". 
The Red Pyramid. I really love this photo!
The Bent Pyramid. 

Me standing inside the Red Pyramid. This was such a workout to climb down into and then out of again. 
Once finished with the pyramids at Dahshur, we went to the Memphis archaeological park. The sad thing to hear about Memphis was that there are probably ruins and cities under the current city, but because people live there, they can't get to them. While we were at the park, we saw one of the giant statues of Ramses II, which was pretty awesome. 
Giant statue of Ramses II. 
And that pretty much ended the trip to Saqqara, Dahshur and Memphis. When I got back to my apartment, I was pretty tired and so I crashed. My body was so relieved, especially since I didn't sleep a whole lot the night before. 

So, I guess I should probably explain the story there. So, on Thursday I decided that I needed to get some homework done. I went to AMIDEAST and sat in the library where I proceeded to do my hieroglyphs homework, go on a small walking adventure with Tyler and then wander back to my apartment. 

Around 8:30pm, I met up with...well...everyone in the program and a few of our Egyptian friends and we headed out to "french club"...which is apparently the french culture center where they hold a dance night once a month. I had a lot of fun! I danced with one of our Egyptian friends pretty much all night as he seemed to enjoy the fact that I actually knew how to partner dance. We were there for about three hours before we retreated back to the "man-cave" aka Tyler and Moose's apartment for an "after party" of fun. I pretty much stayed until 1:30am, when I then decided that if I was getting up and not being grumpy for the trip on Friday that I should go home and sleep. Definitely a good choice. 

Also, I learned just how small the world actually is. One of the girls I met and talked to during the night's name is Maria, and she is the girlfriend to a guy who was in our program last semester and is still in Cairo now. Well, guess what! I was telling her about how I went to Prague last semester and she said that sounded really familiar and she had a friend who went last semester. So, I asked who...turns out she's really good friends with Tarek, one of my flatmates from last semester. Such a tiny, tiny world. You wouldn't believe it. 

Alright, so now that I've covered Thursday and Friday...that pretty much brings us to Saturday. Ah, Saturday. My normal day of homeworking and studying...except this one. I got up rather late as I was exhausted from the trip on Friday and instead of working on homework, Garrett and I wandered over to sit by the pool, where I proceeded to read my book...just not an academic book. I did meet some awesome people though and hopefully, I'll be able to hang out with them more as they are involved with AMIDEAST. 

Once we finished at the pool, we went over the other girl's apartment for our Arabic cooking lesson, which definitely wasn't as organized as I thought. I guess, I was expecting a normal cooking lesson...but, instead we were all pretty much put to work with a task to contribute to dinner. I did learn some new vocabulary words as most of the directions given by our Arabic instructors/cooking teachers was given to us in Arabic. 
A scene from the kitchen. Lindley, Ann, Ingie and Yasmina work to prepare tomatoes, I think.
The night ran a little bit long, but the food was awesome. I'm just sad that I had to cancel my movie date to see Avatar with Emy. I need to make it up to her. Dinner ran until about 7:30pm or so and then we all just sat around the girl's apartment and hung out. Some of our Egyptian friends came over and they taught us an Egyptian game...which is pretty much "Old Maid", but with a different name, which was a lot of fun. After the game, I wandered back to my apartment as it was midnight and I still hadn't called my parents and I had somethings to talk to them about. 

Oh yeah! Before I completely forget to write about this. I should backtrack to Wednesday where my Introduction to Ancient Egypt class was being held at the Egyptian Museum. We ended up talking Dr. Randa into allowing class to be at the museum as we, Ryan, Will and I, wanted to go to the press conference to hear the big news being revealed about King Tut. I didn't get to hear a whole lot as half of the conference was in Arabic, but from what I did gather, King Tut walked with a limp because he had a problem with his left foot. I never would have known. I also was able to catch a glimpse of Dr. Zahi Hawass and Ryan got to shake his hand. Also, being in the press conference area allowed me to see what it's like to work in journalism. After the conference ended, reporters and cameramen swarmed the scene. It was both chaotic and amazing. Our class tour was also pretty awesome. Dr. Randa knows so much and I can't wait to go to see more.

And that pretty much brings us to today...where I went to class, had a meeting with Matthew and then came home to try and work on some more homework that I can't motivate myself to do because I know on Thursday we are leaving for Siwa! 

I should really update this blog more often than this...this way everyone won't be getting bombarded with really long posts from me. We'll see how that goes, but I doubt I'm going to change the way I've been doing this. Sorry about the length. 

Keep reading! More things are bound to emerge. Especially, as the social situation for me seems to be improving and I seem to be making more friends within my program and outside of my program as well.

16 February, 2010

A Day of Particular Interest

Today was just one of those days that just makes me smile. I didn't think it would be, but it definitely did. It started just like any other Tuesday morning. I wrestled with myself about getting out of bed, went to the gym, and then planned on meeting Emam, my language buddy around 12:30pm for our first exchange of languages. Then it would be off to Customs and Manners class, followed by a quick trip to the AUC bookstore and then finally home to work on the Colloquial homework and Intro to Egyptology reading I have to do for classes tomorrow. 

Well, this was the plan at least. And I got about as far as go to the gym. Not long after I returned, Emam sent me a text message saying that today was "flagday" at Elorwan Secondary School and she asked if I wanted to go with her instead of meeting at the AMIDEAST building. So, I said "sure!", I jumped in the shower quickly and met her at the Dokki metro station at noon, where we then walked to the school. 

When we arrived, there were students everywhere doing what looked to me like American team building exercises. They were blindfolding people and having them walk through a rope maze while someone else gave them directions. And then the did something like the three-legged race...only there were five of them tied together...so I guess it's more like the six-legged race. Anyway, the team that won hopped the entire way and it was pretty amusing. I'm so sad I didn't take any pictures.

I got to meet some of her friends who were helping out with the event, although I can't seem to remember any of their names (I'm so bad about that...) and I watched part of Kung Fu Panda with them, while of course eating the snacks that they kept handing me and telling me to eat...Yum, Egyptian snacks... 

Sadly, I didn't get to finish watching the movie as I had to leave for class, but Emam did walk me back to AMIDEAST and we had a really nice talk on the way. She's so very nice and interesting and I'm very glad that she is my language buddy. We may be in two very different areas of study, but she is so curious about American culture and me that I think everything will work out. We've also decided to try and see Avatar on Saturday after cooking class. So, in'shallah we will.   

The work and fun stuff to do seems to just be beginning. Yesterday, we took a trip to the US embassy and it was kind of nice just to see the flag and hear about what the embassy can do for us. And tomorrow, in place of Intro to Egyptology, we, as in Will, possibly Ryan and I, are going to hear the Dr. Zahi Hawass press conference about the King Tut DNA. It should be very exciting. We also have a dialogue discussion with the Egyptian students. But, the thing I'm waiting for the most is Friday. We have a trip to Saqqara and Memphis. I finally get to see all the tombs we keep discussing in class. And it will be really neat as Dr. Randa, Dr. Nicole and Dr. Magda are going to be giving lectures on everything, so I will then know exactly what things are. 

I can't wait for the upcoming weeks. There is so much to do and things to see and I'm really enjoying my Egyptology classes. I think I made a good choice in coming to Egypt. It's just taken a while for that to sink in. 

More coming soon! Don't touch that mouse!

13 February, 2010

Seeking Something New

Before things slip away to quickly in my mind and I'm occupied by something else, I first want to point out that today was actually a really good day. I got up in the morning and went to the gym, which really calmed me and then I went to AMIDEAST to pick up my passport with my new Egyptian visa. It was here that I found that I actually had a field trip...I guess I should update my iPod's calendar. 

So, before I knew it I was on my way to Islamic Cairo to see the architecture and learn about the culture a little bit more. The bus ride made me feel connected to everyone as I talked to them and enjoyed myself. 

When we got to Islamic Cairo, we were taken to a very old mosque, the Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Ţūlūn, that had an awesome story attached to it. The goes something like this. Long after the mosque had fell into disarray, a sultan who had been removed from his throne came to Cairo and hid out in the deserted mosque for three years. During this time, Sultan Lajīn, prayed that he one day be restored to power and once restored to power, he would renovate and restore the mosque to former glory. Well, he did get his power back and it is said that he restored the mosque. Unfortunately, today it is still not used very often and is starting to fall into disrepair.
These pictures are the inside of the mosque, the center courtyard with fountain taken from above, and the minaret that we got to climb for a view of just about all of Islamic Cairo.  

It was at this point, however, as we entered the mosque that I realized I had forgotten to bring a scarf to cover my head, as that is the tradition for women, but, the guards didn't seem to mind as long as we all took our shoes off before going inside. 

After we finished with this mosque, we boarded the bus again and headed off for a different mosque, the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hasan, which was built during the Mamluk Dynasty in Egypt. Now, for those who don't know the Mamluk Dynasty, here's a quick history lesson. It's basically a "slave dynasty". You couldn't become sultan unless you were once a "slave boy". It starts with Queen Shagrat al-Durr. (I know odd right, a women in power? Huh...) Her husband, the sultan before her, had just died and the French army had just landed in Egypt and were marching their way to Egypt. Instead of revealing to the people that the sultan has died, she gives the orders to the troops as if the sultan were still living. After the defeat of the French, she announces the death and hands over control to her step-son, who the Mamluks are not very fond of. The mamluks quietly take the son out of power and restore the Queen to the throne, where she then takes a husband from the slave boys, seeing as she was a slave girl herself. Not really how you would picture a dynasty forming, now is it? Also, something interesting to note is that the children she had with her new sultan could not actually be the ones to rule as they weren't considered "slaves". 

This is the main courtyard and fountain in the Mosque of Sultan Hasan. 

Ok, back on track. So, we visited this mosque which was a school that taught the four schools of Islam as well. It was beautiful inside and once again, the guards didn't seem to be too worried about us not having head coverings.

After we finished at this mosque, we met up with the Islam and Politics teacher, who showed us around the Al-Azhar Mosque, which is not really considered a tourist mosque. It was here that I was given a scarf to cover my hair. The inside of the mosque was very pretty, but you could definitely tell that this was still a mosque in use and not one that many tourists came to visit. The lecture that the professor gave us was also interesting, but it was mostly about the rituals of the mosque and what things were used for. Unfortunately, they had been told to us at the first mosque we visited and so, I found it kind of boring. 
These pictures are from the center courtyard of the mosque and inside. We weren't allowed to wear any shoes on the carpets as they are used for prayer. 

Once we left the mosque, we stopped at Al-Azhar Park and those of us who wanted to stop, stopped and those who didn't took the bus back home. This has to be one of my favorite places in Cairo, even though you have to pay to get in. It's a park with lots of green space away from all of the noise that is Cairo. There are lots of Egyptians there just hanging out and that's pretty much what we did. We got lunch/dinner at one of the cafes, and it was absolutely delicious. I splurged a little and got myself a pina colada, some chicken curry and a piece of cheesecake...so glad I had went to the gym that morning. We ate and then just walked around the park and admired the scenery and did some people watching. I definitely think I will go back there at some point.

These pictures are of the cafe we ate at, and the fountain at the entrance of the park. 

After we left the park, we headed home and around 9pm we got ready to go out. We were originally going to start the night hanging at Tyler and Moose's apartment and then move to Swiss club for their Valentine's themed club night. Well, we did about half of that. Or I did anyways. I went to Tyler and Moose's apartment, but I never made it out to Swiss club. Some of the other girls sort of went, but didn't go inside as it looked "sketchy" (This is Egypt. Everything looks sketchy.). So, instead I talked to some of Moose's friends from AUC and then came back home, not before stopping at Shruti's apartment with Moose to get some food. It was 3am after all and I had been drinking...made total sense. Definitely a good night.

Friday morning came around and I got up around 11am and then made my way to the gym. I'm really trying to stay in shape this semester, I think it will make a huge difference in the long run...plus, I need to be able to fit into my Amber costumes and Marni gown when I return. I then decided that I wanted to go somewhere, so I sent out a text and Sean and myself headed over to City Stars, which is the gigantic mall in Heliopolis. It took about an hour to get there, but it was worth it. It was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Cairo. More American-like. I know, I seem lame as I went somewhere American, but after living in the center of Cairo, occasionally you need that escape. I know I'll be back there sometime soon, as that is where the movie theater is and I know I'm  going to want to see one really soon!

When I got back home last night, I pretty much sat on the couch, read some Dexter and watched the end of Forrest Gump and then Memoirs of a Geisha. It was really relaxing and a good way to end the night. 

And this of course brings us to this morning/afternoon where I will be attempting to do homework to make up for the fact that I haven't done any for the last two days. Oh well, at least I enjoyed myself, right? 

So, yeah. Apologies for this post being so long. I'm going to get on that homework now. Stay tuned for more adventures! It seems the next few weeks are going to get busier and busier! 

P.S.- I completely forgot to elaborate on "Girl's Night". So, it started out really shaky for me as I was waiting for the cleaning lady to show up before I went over and she was nearly an hour late. But, I had a bit of fun. I talked with Shruti and Nadia (our academic coordinator) and some of the girls. But, it still felt odd and almost as if I was left out. Oh well. I'll figure it out soon enough. -REM

09 February, 2010

A Mix of Life

This week has been one of those weeks that I both love and hate at the same time.

It's been busy with working on homework and other outside activities such as the lecture on Modern Egyptian history that we had on Sunday, yesterday's movie night (which I will elaborate more on as you all know my love of movies) and the girl's night that will occur tomorrow night as the start to my wonderful weekend. Well...hopefully wonderful weekend. 

The nice thing about being busy with all of this stuff is that it allows me to forget about all the social skills that I lack that are now coming into view. I don't mean for this post to be a downer and I promise I'll end it on a good note, but for now I need to vent. 

-Begin ramblings of feelings.-  

It has occurred to me, in the three weeks I've been in Egypt, that I don't think I will find anyone who will be my "travel buddy". The someone that just goes with me when I want to go somewhere or the someone who calls me when they want to do something. I'm finding out that the girls here just don't understand me and I'm unsure as to what the boys think. I mean, we get along fine in classes and when we hang out in groups it seems fine, but outside of that, I feel like I'm pushing myself out there to make friends and its all for nothing. I have to really make it known if I want to go somewhere or do something or I have to be there when plans are decided or I'm left out in the cold. 

My one flatmate, Garrett, has Egyptian friends from college living here and so she's often running off with them. My other flatmate, Ann, gives me this vibe of not really liking me. Like I'm an obnoxious little flea that she just wishes she could get rid of. The other girls all live together and while I want to be their friend, Haley just sort of ignores me, Lindley is ok, Shruti doesn't understand what I'm saying half of the time and Rebecca is lumped in with Haley and Lindley.

I don't know why this is either. I've been as nice and friendly as I can and I'm still not getting anywhere with anyone. I'm hoping that this is just the first three weeks being awkward, but I'm unsure. And in a way, it's making me angry. I just want to do things on my weekends so that I don't feel like I'm wasting my time in Cairo. But, as of right now, I guess that means I have to go it alone. 

-End ramblings of feelings.-

So, now that you've actually seen some feeling coming from me...as most of you never see any kind of feeling come from me or from this blog anyway...now you have. I hope that this post changes in the next few days/weeks, but I don't know. 

In other news, the lecture on Sunday night wasn't too bad. But, we did try to cram a lot of history into a short period of time. Probably not the best idea, but it had to happen. We all needed to know how Egypt got to this point in time. It helps to understand where we are coming from when we do things like walk down the street everyday. 

On Monday, we held the first Arabic movie night. I was rather excited because you all know how I am with films. I get all giddy every single time I get the opportunity to watch one. So, we watched The Yacoubian Building, which is considered the biggest Arabic movie in terms of budget to ever be made. I had heard about it before, but I had never seen it. It was really good. It does things that some movies have a lot of problems doing. It weaves together the lives of several individuals (5 main characters) all of whom live in The Yacoubian Building. You watch on screen as the characters' lives intersect and collide in ways you never thought imaginable. As a filmmaker, this film was amazing. 

After the movie ended, we had the opportunity to talk about it with some of our Egyptian peers who had also come to see the movie. I got to meet my language buddy, Emam, here. (I hope maybe we can be good friends at least.) And it was while I talked to Emam's aunt I realized that she had a very different perspective on the same film that I had just watched. She said that she did not like the movie because it only showed the negative side of living in Cairo. That she likes movies that bring people together, not ones like this. 

It took me a little bit to understand where she was coming from. I mean, I view these characters as just that characters in a story. And in order to make a story interesting you impose problems and allow them to deal with them in the manner that would fit their character. She, however, saw this as a representation of her culture. That this movie made in Egypt, by Egyptians, tarnished the way others would view the Egyptian culture based on this one movie. I guess that makes sense, but for me I wouldn't think of it in such a way. But, maybe I should start adding that perspective to how I watch movies. Who knows...I might be onto something...like a term paper topic...

And that pretty much brings us up to the present. I'm tired and still have to work on my Egyptian Arabic homework before class tomorrow morning. I may just take the book upstairs and work on it in my nice comfy bed, in my layers of nice warm pajamas. That just sounds really appealing, especially as the car horns outside the window are getting really annoying. 

I'm kind of looking forward to girl's night. Hopefully, it will bring me closer with the girls, but who knows. I'll let you know as time goes on. But, for now. I really should get back to my homework. 

More updates coming soon....

06 February, 2010

Reflections of a Newly 21 Year Old

Yesterday was my 21st birthday as I mentioned before. And for once in my life, I felt the need to celebrate it...even if it was with people I had just met. Normally, I don't really feel the need to celebrate because I look at it as just another day out of the year. But, yesterday I became extremely homesick and needed to do something. It's probably due to the fact that I just turned 21 and I wasn't with any of my friends or family...especially because I'm fine now. 

So, I first decided to make a cake. I didn't want anyone else to make one for me, I wanted to make one myself. I would have a picture of it, but sadly I forgot to take a picture of it before it was devoured by my fellow study abroad kids. And that's the first thing I did on my birthday. I got up, and made a cake. I thought for a small moment that the cake wasn't going to happen as I couldn't figure out how to light the oven. But, with the help of one of my flatmates, Garrett, we managed to light the oven and I baked the cake. 

Everything went pretty well on the baking front, except that I didn't let it cool enough before I tried to remove it from the pan and so it fell apart. But, I fixed it with lots of chocolate icing...and it really didn't matter anyway as it was gone within literally 3 minutes. 

So, while I was letting the cake cool, I went with Ann, Haley, Lindley and Rebecca (yes, there is another one) to the AUC bookstore to try and find the correct Arabic book for class on Monday. Well, they had it when I was in there on Wednesday, but I didn't think it was the right book so I didn't buy it...anyway, turns out it was and when we got there they were out....guess we'll have to try again next time? 

After that uneventful endeavor, we attempted to find a stationary store to get some notebooks, which pretty much led to us being followed by a few 12 year old hooligans, who I had to restrain myself from punching them and us nearly being taken into another perfume shop. 

We returned home unsuccessful, but had decided (or I had anyway) that I wanted to go out for sushi at Safir Hotel. So, when we were all sitting down at dinner (I was only expecting it to be the girls, as I didn't invite the boys for dinner, only cake), Garrett and Haley come wandering in late with Tyler and Mustafa (Moose, for short) in toe carrying a basket of flowers for me. It made the night really special. After we had ordered, we received word that Will and Sean were also joining us, so everyone was pretty much there to celebrate.

The pictures above are the flowers I was given, and everyone at the table for dinner. 

I was going to treat myself to dinner, which consisted of an avocado roll, Thai green curry chicken and a Stella, which is an Egyptian brewed beer, and as I was going to pay my check it was taken from me and everyone pitched in for my meal as my birthday gift. It was so sweet.
This is Stella which was served in a glass. 

After dinner, we all retreated to my apartment for cake, which as I said above it didn't last more than a few minutes. We all then hung around the apartment for a while before heading over to Tyler and Moose's apartment to hang out. 

And that pretty much wraps up my birthday. It was great and while I didn't get super drunk, I did have a beer. And while I didn't get to spend it at home with my friends and family, I did get to spend it with some amazing people here in Cairo. 
There it is! My birthday. I'm excited to come home and party with everyone when I get back, but for now I'm ok.

Also, on a complete side note, today I went to the gym and then started on the intense amount of homework I have to do...which I should be getting back to. So, stay tuned for more updates!

04 February, 2010

My Birthday in Cairo, but Not at Home

Well, here in Cairo I have officially turned 21. I'll let you all know about the events that ensued once they actually happen, but until then. Happy Birthday to me and that's it really...

"Time Won't Let Me Go"

It feels like time here is moving so slowly. But, then again that's how it felt when I started my adventure in Prague too. I know it will pick up, but at the moment I feel as if I'm not doing a whole lot...which is only sort of true. I mean, this has been the first week in a brand new program with brand new classes. AMIDEAST has done a fantastic job of letting us adjust to taking classes with such a rigorous workload by not making us do much else this week and for that I am grateful, as I know the rest of this semester is going to be difficult. 

Right now, I'm in kind of a slump. It's the week of my birthday and I'm not home with anyone I know and to top it all off...I have a cold. I know that once this cold passes and I become better friends with those in my program, life will get better and go back to being what it normally is for me when I travel...a lot of fun. 

I'm just still in the awkward phase. I'm trying to figure out who I'm going to be friends with and just how much we have in common. It's the first week of college all over again. And I have to say, Prague was a little easier on me in this respect. I mean, I traveled over to the Czech Republic with Kris and then became fast friends with Steph, Shayna, Dave and everyone. It was easy to find friends, I guess because we all had the same interests...film, television, etc. Here it's just going to take more time...and those who know me know how I feel about things not happening instantaneously.

But, enough of my ramblings about things that haven't quite fallen into place. Since I started classes I've done quite a bit. I decided to drop MSA and replace it with International Relations of the Middle East, which is taught by a gentleman who is in the Egyptian parliament...it's going to be a very interesting class...I'll keep you posted as the semester continues. But, other than that, I'm taking the same classes I was before. 

~Colloquial Arabic
~Introduction to Ancient Egypt
~Customs and Manners of Ancient Egypt
~Art and Hieroglyph*** I'm most excited about this one!
~International Relations

I managed to make it through the whole first week of classes, even though I contracted a cold at some point, and that includes not getting killed as I crossed the street on my way to school. Though I'm still working on the whole "I want to adventure" thing...still not comfortable going by myself just yet. 

Honestly, I haven't done a whole lot this week. I went down to the AUC bookstore three times to pick up some of my books for classes, which are costing me a small fortune (yuck!) and I had koshary (yum!) twice. Also, yesterday we were introduced to a cool place called, The Culture Wheel, which is a really awesome art place in Zamalek that holds film nights, and plays and all sorts of other things. We were there to see a dialogue about how Islam is viewed in the West. It was really interesting. You can tell a talk is good when you don't realize you've been sitting in the same place for two hours. I think I'm going to have to venture back there more often to satisfy my art craving. 

And so, there you have it folks! I'm going to now try and see what everyone is doing tonight. I was working on finding an internship and such, but I'm getting tired of looking and being on the computer. 

More to come! Just keep watching!