Absolutely NOT happy that I am on campus 5 hours before class. So here is an update.

This is the second time that my teacher has canceled class and not notify us, leading to my already aggravated self being more annoyed than really necessary this early in the morning. It is the third time she has canceled class, on one of which we did get a text message telling us that we were excused. Except I didn’t get the text message and on that I happened to be coming back from my trip to Luxor so I got lucky. Today, no text. Which means that my four hour of sleep in order to get up at 6 am to shower, get dressed, and catch the 7 am bus for the 45 minute ride here and spending 20 minutes reviewing my Arabic homework was useless. And here I am at the library that just opened few minutes ago typing away the frustration as I have about 4 more hours to kill. Welcome to Egypt.

So what to do for the next few hours. Seeing as it is Thursday (which is our version of Friday in the US), I didn’t bring other homework with me since I believe in relaxing at the end of the week as a treat to myself. I will send a few emails, and I guess do a drastic search for a place to live over the summer in New York City. I have indeed decided to accept the internship at Social Accountability International, part of the American Cities program at Wellesley for the summer. I am absolutely excited about interning with an organization that works with international business rights and labor causes, and in one of the most exciting cities in the world. Me and trying new places…it is an addiction.

But I need to find a place to live, and so far craiglist is helping, but it would be nicer if I got some replies. It pains me to realize I will be spending over $1000 per month for a room probably the size of a walk in closet in the city, but I guess it should not surprise me. And not to mention that every email I send I have to tell them that hey, I am in Cairo and there really is no way to talk on the phone unless you want a fat bill but have faith in me, I have good credit! So far people, especially New Yorkers have laughed and wished me luck when I told them I will be there over the summer. Absolutely no faith in me, but that just gives me more motivation to prove them wrong. A room somewhere in Upper West Side for two months that will hopefully cost me less than a grand per month. Piece of cake, with icing on top.

I am traveling again this weekend- I am going to Sinai for the weekend- we are going to climb Mt. Sinia, also known as “Moses Mountain”, in the Sinai Peninsula, on the Red Sea. We are going to climb it Friday night and hopefully see the sunrise. And then we are going to Dahab, on the southern coast of the Sinai Peninsula where I will relax, enjoy the Red Sea, maybe snorkel (there are beautiful reefs adjacent to the coast, so I think I cannot miss out on that), and quad bike, windsurf, and basically go with the flow, my favorite kind of trips.  We are renting out a large bus to take us there, stay in a relatively cheap hotel (only 35 LE per night), and hopefully get to see another new part of Egypt. 

So while I try to figure out a home that is not a cupboard box on 44th street and do a bit more research for my weekend, let us hope I don’t pass out right in this computer table.

A little rant on AUC’s commecialization

This will be brief-

– We have had camera crews all around campus for about a week now, where they have been stationing themselves around various parts of the campus filming something I don’t know. At first I thought that it was some class project- seeing as how most students here are far more wealthy than an average person can imagine, it won’t be surprising if everything is just done bigger and better here.

And then I learned today that actually, it was for a kind of soap opera called “Gamiat” or translated to, “college”- a new Egyptian television series being filmed on campus. So I will be seeing camera crews and hoards of people around AUC for a while now, filming something that looks like an imitation of Beverly Hills 90210 or something, Misri style.

It bothers me that this wealthy campus is actually accepting money for a television production. For being the best university in Egypt, let along the Middle East, I am sure it is not for exposure. Allowing this makes me feel like a desperate attempt for…I don’t know what. Money? Attention? Maybe, since charging about six times more than other colleges around the country is not enough. It all seems cheap to me. I am not sure how I will feel about going to a university for my degree where a television serial about teenage-esque drama is also being filmed. So I will just have to accept that my professors will believe me when I say I was late to class because the camera man would not let me pass through god forbid I ruin some action scene on the staires of Huss.

– Also for about a week or two, I have been seeing these booths by banks and insurance companies standing hand in hand with campus organizations and clubs. It looks like a scene I saw first year at Wellesley during orientation when local companies would com to help you get cell phones, bank accounts, etc. Fine. But then I see Coca Cola on campus with their little ad campaign, with banners and a photo booth, clearly trying to sell their product. And then I see other brands around. I am sure they had to pay some price to be allowed to stay in the heart of the AUC campus promoting their goods. How far are we going to let the corporate world come into campus?  Of course, at the end of the day, it is all business. But I just feel that these recent obserations are just a tad bit too much for what I am used to, and what I will remember when I recall the semester I studied abroad in Egypt when I am supposed to immerse myself in the culture of the college scene.

– Finally, with all this money that AUC takes from its students, study abroad students, and adertising and allowing a whole television to be filmed here, why is it that almost half of the tehcnological equipment is donated by USAID? In the newly built, multi0million dollar campus where parking lots are filled with cars not older than seven years old, USAID continues to donate computes, scanners, printers, etc. I of course do not know the entire story, but it seems just a bit ironic that students should complain in my political science classes about the lack of support the United States gives to developing nations when most of the technology you enjoy are from USAID. Especially since these equipments seem to be helping members from the cream of the crop in Egyptian society who are paying for designer sneakers with their pocket change.

And now I will resume to my homework, reading about how it is American media that has destroyed the youth of Middle Eastern society.

Terrorist attack at Khan Al Khali too close to home

I was just talking to my mom about the famed market, Khan Al Khali when my friend told me that a terrorist attack took place about an hour ago. An RA for my dorm just came by our room to ask if we knew anyone who had gone there today, since it affected foreigners.

This is the same market where I have been to many times before, once by myself last week to pick up some jewelry from the famed New Onix store (which I of course could not find and a dozen Egyptian men were too eager to help me through the alleys). It is an easy place to get lost in, and be overwhelmed by the crowd on the weekends, and meet some of the most interesting locals as well. It is one of me and my friends’ favorite places to go whether for Egyptian pancakes or to just shop around for traditional goods.

It happened literally almost over an hour ago so the news is scarce as they are apparently not allowing media into the site.

So far, the AFP states:

One tourist killed, 14 wounded by Cairo bomb

CAIRO (AFP) — A French tourist was killed and 13 people, among them other European holidaymakers, wounded on Sunday when a bomb went off near a cafe in the Cairo tourist area of Khan al-Khalil, police said.

The wounded included one Austrian and 11 French tourists, a police officer said.

Witnesses told AFP that two bombs were thrown from a rooftop overlooking a street lined with cafes and restaurants near the Hussein mosque.

Another bomb which did not initially explode went off after police cordoned off the area and sent in a bomb disposal unit, police said.

The neighbourhood was the scene of a previous bomb attack in 2005 in which two tourists were killed and 18 wounded.

And as I write this the BBC has just released information here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7904731.stm

Sunday’s explosion would be of a huge concern to Egypt’s security services, the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Cairo says.

These are tense times for the Egyptian government, our correspondent says.

He adds that the government has been criticised for its stance over over a recent conflict in Gaza and has many enemies.

This is certainly a bit too close to home. Especially since I was planning to visit tomorrow to buy a few more things for my family before I visit Saudi Arabic this weekend. And also especially since we are always told to be careful, but we just don’t expect bombs to be thrown at where we happen to be. A bit surreal, and yet believable given the political climate of the region. And yet having been here a month and finally getting used to the hustle and bustle of the city, this event makes me feel entirely new to Cairo yet again.

News of Phil and AUC makes it to New York Times

The article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/world/middleeast/10egypt.html?_r=1

Fliers about Phil are still around campus, as I saw a tack on the library front desk. I am not sure exactly how I feel about this whole policy Egypt has about arresting people without charge- obviously it encoraches upon personal rights, and yet a state does have the right to defend itself. However, the same could be said about America’s anti-terrorism policies as enacted by Bush that allowes wire-tapping. I absolutely disagree with this, but national security is a pretty strong argument.

The New York Times reports:

A spokesman for Egypt’s Interior Ministry, which handles all matters of internal security, was furious at being asked about the case. The spokesman is a general, but talked only on the condition that he not be identified by name because of the security nature of his work. He declined to answer questions, and said: “This happened within the framework of the Egyptian law. You can go to the office of the general prosecutor. I have no information about Philip. Who said they don’t know where he is? What is the secret behind the interest of The New York Times in Philip? Are you working for human rights organizations?”

The framework of the Egyptian aw seems pretty reactionary to me. Sending police into his family’s home in the middle of the night to search the house, and then backing away from arresting his father after officers of the German embassy and Amnesty International is interesting because it definitely shows that there is uncertainty on the Egyptian government’s part on this whole mess. Especially since the New York Times has just published a two page article on the issue. Or lack of an issue.

Inauguration, Abduction, and AUC

Last weekend was the inauguration at AUC to celebrate the opening of the new campus location. Apparently, the security was intense as Lady Mubarak attended the event, with students living in the new campus denied leaving their dorm for about 12 hours. There was a zone set up where you would actually get shot if found around the area. No cell phones were allowed, among other things. My friend that lived on campus told us this in my political science class as she bitterly repeated her meal for the day which was stale chips.

Another happeneing that has been largely avoided by the administration is the abduction of an American Graduate student,Phil Rizk. He was abducted by the Egyptian State Security just the night before after attending a march in solidarity with Palestine.No information has been given but I learned from reading other blogs and students that his host family has been searched by the government and nothingis released about his status.Here is an open letter to be presented to the Board of Trustees by a group on campus:


February 7, 2009

To the Members of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Cairo:

We are writing this letter to you to express the profound concern of AUC students and faculty regarding a clear breach of the human rights of an AUC student by the Egyptian authorities.

On 6 February 2009, Philip Rizk, a Masters student in Middle East Studies at the AUC, was returning to Cairo from a peaceful march in Qalyoubia (north of Cairo) in solidarity with Palestinians. Although none of his actions were violent or illegal, Philip was detained by police along with other participants in the march at around 5pm and brought to a police station some four hours later. There, state security agents singled Philip out for questioning and around 11pm, abducted him through a side door and drove him to an undisclosed location.

Knowledge of these events spread rapidly through the AUC community, and students and faculty joined Philip’s other friends and family to hold a protest at the High Court in the early afternoon of February 7th demanding his immediate release. Philip’s parents and lawyers were permitted to enter the court after extensive negotiations, but learned nothing of his whereabouts. Following that, a large group of students and faculty went to the state security compound at Roughly near Tahrir Square. A delegation expressed its concern for Philip and inquired as to where he was being held, but received no response from Egyptian authorities. On February 8th, a gathering will be held at 12:30pm in HUSS plaza on AUC’s new campus to show solidarity for Philip, and we ask that you demonstrate your support in the following ways:

• Remain apprised of the situation.
• Use your good offices and contacts to secure AUC student Philip Rizk’s immediate release.
• Work to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.
• Publicly reaffirm your commitment to complete freedom of association and expression for all AUC students and faculty.

Yours sincerely,
Concerned Students and Faculty of the American University in Cairo

I learned about this on Sunday when I was at the library and this guy was passing around fliers that read “Where is Phil?” with a photo of him. I did not give it a look until I actually found out what happened- I mean, how often does the government kidnap someone who attends your school? There was a small protest on campus that day too.

After I told my parents this, I got an email from my dad to register with the embassy and a warning from my mom to not talk to anyone. I assured them I was not remotely controversial in my two weeks here in Cairo.



Reaching the first week mark at AUC

Tomorrow, it will be one week of being a student at AUC. And thus far, I am still trying to change my classes, but I think I am going to give up and have to settle for taking in the 7 am bus from Zamalek to the New Campus four times a week. Which means I have to wake up around 6 am, and after having had 5 semester in college trying any way I can so that I don’t wake up before 9 am, this is going to be interesting.

The Arabic Langiage Institute head person basically said a big NO to the possibility of changing my schedule so that I can be on the later class. I was not too upset at the time because I didn’t know how to make the argument of hating to wake up early legitimate. But since I am here to learn Arabic, I am simply going to have to get over it.

My global political science class looks interesting, but my professor is most likely anti-American who on the first day argued that the free market was causing the recession and that it was the United State’s fault that the third world was not developing fast enough, such as Egypt. I went to another of her classes to check it out later that day and she basically ignored my American friend’s raised hand and picked on another Egyptian who had her hand up after my fellow study abroad student. It was on the topic of American elections. Anyways, I am looking forward to that.

The same professor has indicated that 10% would be deducted from papers if it had “bad English”. She emphasized that were were in an American school and need to speak adequate English and discussed the writing center if anyone needed help. I wonder how many of these high-ego students actually go there.

I really feel like AUC fits the stereotype about high class Arab children. I swear I have seen the same students lurking around the fountain from the morning to the afternoon, same place. And the courtyard is still crowded when classes are in session. It is a very “happening” scene, but really?

After getting off the bus today I made a run to the Metro supermarket (a small grocery store nearby) to buy water bottles because I hate paying more than double the price on campus for water. In terms of dollars its nothing, but since we are all about cultural immersion, let’s be fair.I went to my falafel corner stall where Karim nor Ahmed were there but I didn’t manage to get ripped off either. I wonder how long it will take until people here see that I am not a tourist but that I actually live here.

Cake boys and cake girls on campus: First day at AUC.

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.

My classes-

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.

Cairo Book Fair

Travelmax states in their website that:

The Cairo International Book Fair at Cairo Fair Grounds is one of the leading cultural activities in the Middle East and, with over 3000 exhibitors and three million international visitors per year, the biggest in the world after Frankfurt.

I went there with a  few friends just to check it out to see what all of the talk was about. It took about half an hour to get there given the traffic, and 15 pounds. We had to buy tickets to get in and even there we were about to get ripped off as they tried to charge us 2 pounds instead of 1 pound. While that may be a few cents in American money, it is still unfair. We got out of that one, with the gys laughing at us behind the counter. Not funny.

My observations were that it was one place where I saw many women, maybe slightly more than men. And many fully covered women too, whcih was interesting since in Zamalek I am used to seeing very fashionable girls, hijab or not. There were a lot of stores selling the Qur’an and other religious writings in all shapes and sizes, and quite beautiful. The fair was also full of students as many stores sold used text books.

We were hungry when we got there so we headed for the food section of the fair where it was packed in one stall, with tables and chairs set on the outside, all full. But a waitor came by and led us to a table, where two women were standing by trying to hold it for the family. The waitor dismissed them and sat us there. ANd then he proceeded to get chairs for us, and took one from another table where a little boy yelled because he was supposed to be holding it for someone. I guess we screamed money given we were foreigners but still, it was a bit uncomfortable how accomadating they were.

We ordered the best shwarmas I have had in Cairo yet- lamb, tomatoes, and parsley wrapped in fresh bread right out of the oven. The waitor, Ahmed, was kind and tried to make us talk in Arabic. They all found us incredibly funny. I ended up promising two of the waitors that we would come back, and Ahmed’s number who said I should call if I ever needed anything at all.

As we were heading back towards the enteresnce after roaming around for a while, there were several boys between the ages of 13 and 18 (I think) following us. We realized that they were trying to take a photo with their phones, trying but failing to be discreet. I finally stopped and asked them if they wanted a photo, to which they were embarrassed but excited and nodded a ‘yes’. So there we are, four American girls posing for the guys, and taking photos with them. They looked elated, embarrassed, thanked us many times, and ran away.

There was a definite religious tone in the fair, a culture that I have yet to see in Cairo. There were stalls selling Western magazines, many of which were over turned because they had half naked models on the front. I saw both fully abbaya-clad women whose eyes are the only things you can see, to tight-jeans and boots wearing teenage girls with their boyfriends holding hands.

Pretty interesting experience, and I think I spent most of the time staring at people. Which everyone does here anyway.

Getting around Zamalek

So it has been about a week here, and most of it has been spent in Zamalek, a place that I realize is pretty exclusive and for the wealthy. Pizza Hut and McDonalds are revered here, but I am fortunately found my little family owned stores that have the falafels and shwarmas that also cost about a dollar. I am risking all the health warnings (not eating salads or vegitables because they may not be washed, not to eat food that has been sitting out for a while, etc.) because they are way more delicious than the American fast food that everyone seems to crowd.

The falafel place is a new one that I went to two days ago. I went in yesterday by myself and the workers introduced themselves to me, told me I was pretty and gave me a discount. Falafel sandwish and coke for 3 pounds. Excellent.

Everything is pretty much confusing here when you first come, especially since the streets are narrow and so many of the same cars line it up. But of course, knowing full well that you have to get used to the place, I am now able to find my way around without running into the same people on the street corners. Taxi drivers laugh at me when I try to direct them.

Also, when you walk you have to be careful because you don’t know what you will step on, weather its dirt, fluids you don’t want to know where it came from, cats napping, etc. I have been offered hash by street kids twice already who look at me with amusement when I politely refuse with a smile.

My Arabic is coming to some use here, and I am learning more. Still, I don’t think I will ever be able to speak as fast as Egyptians here.

Egyptian time

Timing in this country is crazy. I knew there existed a Bengali Standard Time or Indian Standard Time which makes fun of the fact that desis can’t get somewhere on time usually late by 30 minutes or an hour. We used to joke about it all the time with my other Indian friends whenever there were parties or cultural events.

But the Egyptian timing is just way off. We are talking about hours. I might just adding two hours to every time someone tells me to meet up or be someplace. AUC events are in the exact category. For our Bedouin experience yesterday, we were required to show ourselves around 4:30, didn’t leave until after 6pm. They said it was because the bus was lost in directions. ok.

I am not sure if this is something I should get used to.

The first 24 Hours in Egypt

My first 24 hours here in the amazing city of Cairo included getting wrong directions from the police officers, Pizza Hut welcoming my first meal here after some of our failed efforts at finding something “ethnic” (but has to be clean, decent etc of course), having to make decisions about which water bottle brand looks the best, avoiding stepping on cats on the sidewalk, getting run over by cars, and almost being kicked out of Pub 28 in Zamalek at 1:30 am.

My introduction to Egypt started right in the airport, where I met a former architecture professor of AUC who insisted on guiding me there. We talked about our travels and Cairo traffic when I was approached by a woman who said “Welcome to Egypt!” really enthusiastically. Turns out she was on my flight from Dammam and I reminded her of her own daughter so she insisted that I stay with her and she will arrange my transportation because “girls like you should not be traveling around on your own”. Fine. For some reason I could not get away from this stranger. So I waited with her for her son to come pick her up while she showed me photos of her family. She was really sweet actually. After her son came, somehow thirty minutes later no one would let me hold anything and I am in a taxi that was haggled by them, with one of his friends who was instructed to take me to my dorm and let her know that I have arrived safely. Talk about hospitality. Oh and I am invited to their home before classes start.

Zamalek Dorm is in this posh neighborhood near the Pakistani embassy. It was full of newly arrived American students, with Euro pop music blasting in the lobby. There are bunch of security guards who check your bags every time you come in to make sure you are not smuggling alcohol or whatnot. There were guys watching the soccer match in one side, and the whole place smelled of smoke. It was much prettier than I have heard though.

When my papers were ready I was taken to my room with a female guard, and two guys to carry my bags. She started yelling “MEN IN THE FLOOR!” as we entered the girl’s dorm.

My room is much nicer than I thought. I had heard so much about how small it is or how dirty, but I was greeted by a room the size of a normal double in Beebe Hall at Wellesley except with tiled floors and wooden everything, and each of us get our own closet that reached to the ceiling. And much better lighting than in Wellesley.

***

It felt like orientation week in Wellesley all over again, where everyone is super friendly and lots of smiles and hand shakes and invitations (except that we are in Cairo, don’t know our way at all, and unlike Wellesley there are boys here. Hmm…). A group of us went around Zamalek trying to find a place to eat that was authentic but had to finally settle for Pizza Hut which as usual, is much fancier outside of the US. Zamalek is a pretty posh area, so it’s no surprise that Western cafes and restaurants replace more traditional, family owned venues.

Annoyance- having to walk around and not being able to look up because you are wathcing your step since you don’t know what you might step into. And cats.And dust (my new converse sneakers have a shadown of brown now).

Later last night another group of is went to Pub 28 which is a small, smoky bar fullof expats and Egyptians too and overpriced everything. An hour later we are in a bigger group as more AUCers come in. Apparently it is the place that always attracts American study abroad students. Surprise.

And as we come back at around 2 am (I think?), there are all these guards checking out bags and whether we should be let in. Pass.

Getting ready to go to Cairo

Since there is about two weeks left until I go to Cairo, I have been reading various travel blogs on Cairo, Zamalek, and AUC. I got an email few days ago that informed me that I will be living in Zamalek, in a double. Zamalek is the old dorm in Cairo that is literally on an island on the Nile river, linked by bridges to the rest of the city. Wikipedia tells me its one of the more upscale, residential areas where the embassies, European restaurants, and related luxuries and such are. And it is almost a two hour ride from the new campus where my classes will be…which should be 15 minutes if there wasn’t any traffic. I have no idea who I am rooming with, where my room is, or any other information.

I am getting a bit worried though after reading so many of the blogs- the bathrooms apparently don’t have toilet paper or soap, there are cats often inside the dorm, and a case of rats by one blogger. I guess this should not come as a big surprise given my experience with Morocco and India in the past year. The photos of the rooms in Zamalek don’t look that bad at all, and we get clean sheets and towels every two weeks. There is only two dryers in the whole building, one washer on each floor. One blogger told me I should prepare myself to dry my socks in my room. And some of the photos one blogger posted of the bathroom was…gross. So I will have to bring my own supply for extra hygienic products. No big deal.

My mother over here is also making sure I get all of the essentials- converse sneakers and close toed shoes that I can wear until they tear given Cairo streets and the dust, light cotton clothes for the warm weather that is about to come, and lots of deodorant. I still need to actually buy by tickets to Cairo.

I have also picked my classes for next semester, but given what I have read from other study abroad students, the likelihood of getting all of them is slim. Intermediate Arabic, middle eastern foreign policy, topics on terrorism, and a class on propaganda…I guess I should not get too excited.

I am also getting a bit worried about getting worried. Once I get there, I have to register myself, apply for a student visa, meet with the international adviser, pick classes assuming I don’t my choices, probably shop in a city I don’t know at all for things I forgot to bring, buy my own food (I will miss Wellesley dining halls and the LuLu and the delivery guy from Lemon Thai here), and oh, attend class and do homework. I probably enjoy stress so let me savor this energy for then.

The next time I update, I will make sure to have an actual ticket there.