. I am not alone in my troubles, native Egyptians even have a clever phrase for this sensation, Mummy Tummy. Imagine my surprise, though, when I go out further into the countryside, have delicious homemade meals, and I feel fine after! There was way too much food to even try to list, but if you thought the previous entry about food sounded tasty multiply that feeling by about 100. Everything was fresh, much of it picked from the fruit trees outside (fresh guava or lemon juice anyone?) and we even had Egyptian stuffed grape leaves made from grape leaves growing outside of the house. In usual Egyptian fashion, there was always something to be offered, including classic Ramadan cookies and a fresh cup of tea. I almost forgot to mention, I fasted again on the last day of Ramadan which was not so bad considering Egyptian days start so late it is not as difficult to refrain from eating or drinking for only 6 hours. So what did I do besides eat, you ask? One day we went out on a boat onto a river(?) that feeds into the Suez. We went on the boat ride right before iftar so the sun was in the perfect position for sunset pictures-- as all of you know, my favorite. Sitting on the boat with the breeze blowing at sunset with cooler temperatures than in the city made for a perfect relaxing evening. On Eid, I woke up before 6am to go to the family's local mosque, just as we would do at home for Easter. Having the opportunity to go into the mosque during prayer and watch everyone pray was an awesome experience
. Being able to watch and listen as a room packed full of people are praying on one of the most celebrated holidays of the Islamic calendar is eye opening. Opportunities like this one are what make study abroad programs so valuable; there was no hate or extremism, which some American's think characterize Islam, just love and prayer within a community of believers, not all that different from church.
Later in the break, we went to see the Suez Canal in Ismailia and then another day in Port Said (Sieed). On the way to Port Said we took the highway that runs along the canal; from the road we passed huge ships that were making their way through the canal. I have never seen ships so large in my life! In Port Said we took a ferry across the canal to the Sinai Peninsula, which is still a part of Egypt but technically in Asia, not Africa. Let me just pause for a second and have a nerdy moment where I state how cool it was to see the Suez Canal. Having learned so much about the canal and its importance last semester in Middle Eastern History I was ecstatic to see it in real life. This canal has caused so many arguments in history over who owns it and whatnot, but as of now the Suez Canal brings in the equivalent of 2 billion US dollars to Egypt each year from taxes.
Changing nerdy topics, I should probably mention something about my classes, considering I am "studying" abroad in Egypt
. Classes started on a Sunday which was weird enough, but mix in the funky class schedule because of Ramadan and it really messed up my internal clock. Having sat in on all of my classes so far except for one-- it was canceled until after Ramadan-- they seem like they will be very interesting. Arabic will be an extremely long class starting at 8:30am and going until 10:20 some days and 11:15 on the other two days. Believe me, that is an intense amount of Arabic to soak into my brain each day (which is perhaps why it is called the "intensive" class). This class counts as 2 classes worth of credit, not that they will transfer as anything back at PC besides elective language credits. I am most excited about my Modern Movements of Islam (history) class; after today's class and discussion I am even more excited. The class includes a combination of Christian students and Muslim students which provides a good mixture for class discussions. At times the class may get controversial, but those are always the best classes because you get to hear opposing viewpoints which shed light on different issues you may have never thought about before. Also, I am taking another history class which will be almost completely about the fall of the Ottoman Empire (Society and State of the Middle East from 1699-1914) and a political science class entitled Government and Politics of Egypt. I was contemplating dropping the history class, but the professor seems great so I decided to stick with it. I am hoping my government class will be just as interesting as the rest of my classes, but we will see when after I have my first class on Wednesday. The professors here are from all over the world which is great because you get a variety of viewpoints from other cultures.
I am still loving Egypt, no worries about culture shock or homesickness yet-- minus the fact that I missed PC football make the play of the week on ESPN and scoring 3 touchdowns on Clemson
. If I did not have prior commitments at PC set up for next semester, I would seriously consider extending my stay in Cairo for a year. But alas, with SVS, class requirements, and scholarship applications, I will just have to wait until grad school (maybe?). Seriously, though, studying abroad has made me consider coming abroad for my graduate work, whether in Europe or somewhere like Egypt. There are so many sights to see and things to learn about this culture, I am afraid I will not absorb it enough during my short stay. I am counting on everyone to keep me updated with what is going on back in the states, and I cannot thank everyone enough for your comments and messages of support!
Hello faithful readers! I am writing today from Ismailia, a beautiful little city where I have been spending my Eid break. Eid break celebrates the end of Ramadan and is a very large holiday kind of like like Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving in the US. After having only one week of class--which I will describe later-- my roommate, her friend, her friend's boyfriend, and I got into the car and headed up to Ismailia, where my roommate's friend's boyfriend's family lives (and yes, that is way too many possessives in one sentence). Ismailia is a small city right off of the Suez Canal about an hour south of the beginning of the canal. Getting to stay with an Egyptian family for a long weekend was a marvelous opportunity because I not only was able to practice my Arabic and learn handy phrases, but I had the chance to try real home cooked Egyptian food. Let me interject here and state that eating all of this food in Egypt has not been without a price. Since I have been at AUC my stomach has been constantly in flux, whether I eat western food or Egyptian food