Walk Like an Egyptian

Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
1
6
18
Trip End Dec 30, 2010


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Where I stayed
AUC Dorms

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Friday, August 27, 2010

After about six months of planning and anticipation I have finally arrived in Cairo, Egypt!  My nervousness has subsided and I am pumped about this upcoming semester-- which officially starts on September 5th.  Here is a bit about my past few days (abridged):

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
On Tuesday I had the chance to tour my first ever castle, Schloss Lenzburg Castle.  Schloss Lenzburg has been used since about 1100 and is now a mixture of awesome museum and kids entertainment area.  Just walking up to the castle was intimidating because everything was so tall and dreary (it had just rained right before we arrived).  The gardens of the castle were beautiful and we were also able to check out different rooms decorated from time periods in which the castle was used, but I think my favorite part was the prison.  Perhaps the prison may seem a bit morbid but after doing a research paper on Punishment in medieval England it was neat actually seeing how prisoners lived during those times, even though Switzerland is not England.  On display were even some of the torture weapons used against prisoners to make them confess.  Fauchi is the castle's resident dragon which entertains little kids that come to Schloss Lenzburg; Alexandra and I found the animated Fauchi very funny, and sadly, not ferocious at all.  We left the castle after stopping by the resident cafe where I tried a delicious Black Forest cake.  Mario and Ramona were home when we returned; suddenly, while I was on the computer catching up, I heard the wind chimes I thought I heard the night before, but then I heard a strange bleating noise.  The chimes from the night before were actually bells on sheep that graze right behind the Cozzio house.  I then forced Mario to visit the sheep with me; they were so cute, but not the most intelligent creatures.  Mario thought I was crazy for being so interested in the sheep, but of all the animals I have seen in the US, I have never seen sheep just chilling behind someone's house.  That night, after a dinner of German sausages Franco took me to the top of the hill above the house where I took some more beautiful sunset shots (which I will include for your viewing pleasure).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Bittersweet is the word I would use to describe Wednesday; I was excited about leaving for Cairo, but I was not ready to leave Switzerland yet either!  I woke up early to say goodbye to Mario and Ramona, then after I got ready and had my last Swiss breakfast, I said goodbye to Bea and Franco, Alexandra, and I headed to the train station.  My first European train ride was very beautiful, with high mountains in the background and beautiful lakes.  Taking the train was a beautiful way to see the Swiss countryside before I left the country for four months, especially the lake outside of Geneva.  At the airport I had to pay a bit more for extra luggage which was aggravating, but other than that everything went fine.  I said goodbye to Franco and Alexandra at the security gate and made my way through security.  Truth be told, I was a little afraid of flying on EgyptAir because I have heard it referred to as EgyptScare, but the flight was actually one of the best on my trip thusfar.  What impressed me even more than the smooth ride was the fact that they played Ironman 2 as the in flight movie, a movie I have been wanting to see since I came out-- and it was in English!  We arrived in Cairo a bit early and I went to get my bags, which were a bit behind getting to the belt, but after they made it another girl from AUC and I had to seek out the person from AUC picking us up.  First, the driver dropped her off at Zamalek, the other AUC dorm, and then he took me to the campus in New Cairo, aka the desert.  Honestly, the desert surrounds New Cairo.  The area is a newly developing area surrounded by half finished mansions for rich Egyptians, but the campus is huge and fabulous.  After I checked in I found the other PC student studying at AUC, Margaux, and we chatted for a bit and then checked out the on campus 24 hour convenience store before hitting the bed. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010
On Thursday I actually woke up at 9:30 without being prompted by an alarm, which was really surprising since I had been sleeping-in in Switzerland until about 10 everyday.  The day started out meeting a lot of new people in the open air common area before going to explore the campus a bit.  Even though Egypt is a relatively moderate Muslim country, it is still very conservative; for example, guys and girls are not allowed in each others dorms at all.  To keep this problem from happening there are security checkpoints outside each the girl and guy sides, and if a member of the opposite sex caught in the other side, they are automatically kicked out of AUC.  PDA (public display of affection) is also a big no-no at AUC.  If anyone is caught even holding hands or giving a hug for too long they can be written up by security and have "points" deducted (you are granted so many points and if you lose all of your points you have to leave).  Really though, hanging out between guys and girls is very common, and is encouraged if you are in the city and are a girl.  For all of you that are worrying about security in Cairo, the security is very steep; just to get into campus you must have any bags checked and go through a metal detector.  Even around the city there are tourist police and regular cops everywhere to make sure everyone is safe-- they are also really convenient if you need directions. 

Anyways, Thursday included our first trip into Cairo.  We gathered for awhile after walking around campus and headed into Old Cairo also known as Coptic Cairo.  While there we had a tour guide and visited the oldest church, synagogue, and mosque in Cairo.  Also, we went into the famous hanging church which was built over an old Roman Fort and a Greek Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint George-- you know, the one that slayed the dragon.  The places were really neat with a mixture of Arabic and Christian designs, but they were so hot with our large group and I could hardly get any pictures, so look for more pictures when I get back there eventually.  The mosque was really neat because I have never been in a mosque; luckily, I had my headscarf with me so I did not have to borrow a green robe looking thing that most girls had to wear to cover their skin and hair.  Women also have to go through a different entrance than men even though we all gathered together once we were inside.  That night we ate lunch at Zamalek and then walked around the island-- Zamalek is an upper-class island in the middle of the Nile.  Just walking around the city and taking in the sights-- in a group of course-- was so interesting!  Crossing the roads is also an artform in Cairo; the trick is to time your walk and to never run because the cars time how fast you are walking.  By the time we got back to the dorms I was so exhausted and dirty, so I took a shower and fell straight to sleep. 

More to come from Cairo while I catch up.  Be sure to keep reading, featured in the next post will be trying to get an Egyptian cell phone, a Felucca ride on the Nile, and smoking Sheesha in downtown Cairo. 
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Comments

Christine on

Okay so everything sounds really cool and like you're having a blast! Just to
update you here, Friday night was amazing, people everywhere, it was fun! first
week of classes went good, and i have enjoyed working with ms. brazill so far, so
that's good! I loved looking at all you pictures, but did not like the looks of that
pigeon. Have fun and can't wait to hear more =)

Fr. Georg Retzlaff on

Hi, world traveller,
How exciting all this looks and sounds. This is the time of your life, this is opening up to the world. As I am teaching on Islam during my Sunday Adult lectures I am thinking of you and the great opportunity you have to be exposed to a different and beautiful culture.
Be safe, take care of yourself, and stay in touch. We at All Saints' both miss and envy you!
Always,
Georg

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