Not sure if I learned anything today in class, but I have definitely learned a lot from just watching the people that study at the American University in Cairo. When we were told that we will be learning with the most upper-sector of the Egyptian class, they were not lying. As my colloquial Arabic teacher said, “they are not like Paris Hilton, but right up there”.
Think Eruo-trash styled guys and girls…or an urban dictionary term, the cake boy/girl. I am talking about girls in tight leggings/skinny jeans with designer boots, big designer glasses, designer purses on every arm that cannot possibly fit a book, Burberry/Hermes scarves, and cashmere cardigans. From top to bottom they are dressed “to the T”. Not to mention full makeup, and highlights on all of the perfect hair. Every time I meet a girl that looks a little different, she is American. I mean I have seen girls dressed up before, but not congregated in one place. Throw in a few headscarves here and there. They screamed that “Arab money” that Busta Rhymes raps about.
The guys are not that different- the perfect hair, perfectly trimmed beard (or not), designer jeans and shirts with their iPhones or Nokias and sneakers. Lots of graphic tees and hoodies with ego-boosting statements. Very, very nice sunglasses. Not many carried books or backpacks. Mostly cigarettes. I saw a group of guys sitting up a ledge when I went to the my first class, and when I came out of my second. They all are smoking, laughing, checking people out, and again, smoking.
There was too much perfection going around the whole campus. How is this even possible.
Not that I was dressed too differently after hearing a lot about the fashion here and looking at the new girls moving into the dorm (There was definitely more than one Mercedes Benz with the students’ personal drivers).
My friend asked our Arabic teacher why they can dress this way and she simply replied that they can do anything because they have the money. These girls have their private drivers out in the parking lot waiting on them for hours until they are done with their classes and chitchatting with friends. They don’t need to hail a cab, walk in the streets of Cairo, and other actions that would be normal. They are not “normal” Egyptians, she emphasized.
The university itself fits this picture. It is brand new, clean, tiled and marbled, and large. It has amazing architecture and modern everything. And not to mention confusing since we can never find our classes perfectly. It is in the middle of nowhere and the parking lots are like expensive car expositions. Security is high- you have to show your ID to enter the campus, and to enter the library you need to swipe the ID too, and when you come back inside from the bookstore to the campus, you have to have your bags checked. There are guards everywhere. I have never seen a cleaner campus before. And also one that deals with administrative tasks so inefficiently but I won’t get into that.
For the most part, they were alright. My intermediate Arabic class was only six students, and the teacher scary. She also had the whole full makeup, too tight clothes, and too much hairspray going on. But nice. My advertising class was a joke- a 50 minute class, we were out 30 minutes early. Here again, the professor was pretty fashionable. I was the only American in the class, and like my first class, I was asked about my ethnic background (Christian sounding first name, and an Arabic last name? Where are you from? America? No, where are you really from? Muslim?). Cake girls and boys occupied each seat. No one took notes.
My last class was my favorite- introduction to Colloquial Arabic, which basically has a dozen or so American students who all have backgroun in Arabic attempting to get the Egyptian form. She was lovely, and it was a nice way to end the day. She also paused at my name and asked if I was Muslim, after which she nodded saying she could tell. I mean, Hassan is a last name that seems to be shared by everyone here. We got an invitation to come to her home next Thursday for dinner. I am looking forward to it, if I can go.
The bus ride back was terrible, but I slept through much of it. I didn’t even see that there was a knob that would blow wind on my face above. I wouldn’t have been feeling as hot, and its winter here! Since I have seen Delhi and Dhaka traffic, this doesn’t phase me but I can’t imagine what it will be like when it reached 100+ degrees.
I actually have homework on the first day, so I am going to attempt that one. It is kind of hitting me that I am actually not in America.