Na'am, Na'am, Na'am!

Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
Trip End Dec 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
AUC on Campus Dorms

Flag of Egypt  , Al Qāhirah,
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yesterday I felt I really fell in love with everything about Egypt-- well, close to everything.  In all, yesterday was an amazing day and it made me extremely confidant about my choice of Cairo for this semester. 

Friday we were able to have a lazy morning around campus, so I decided to do basic things like unpack my clothes, write a basic schedule, and organize some things.  Mid morning I met some girls for a late breakfast/early lunch at our local dining option.  Currently, until the semester officially starts, there is only one dining option, Tabasco, and a convenience store open on campus.  To throw another ringer into the mix, this is the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting during the day for Muslims.  Therefore, most restaurants close during the day and then open when the fast can be broken at sunset.  Usually, it would stink having such a lack of dining options, but it is really fascinating being able to see Muslim culture and traditions firsthand.  In the states, we are often too caught up in our own lives to observe the daily lives of others that practice different traditions.  Fasting during the day makes Cairo an even more exciting place to be during the night because everyone is celebrating and enjoying life the the fullest after the fast is broken. 

I am also relatively certain that no one who is really uptight about time can survive in Egypt.  As one of our RAs said:  "there are 2 times, normal time, which is on time, and Egyptian time, which is whenever you want it to be."  This concept makes for more confusion and requires a lot of patience, but it also provides opportunities to meet people who are also waiting with you.  I have found the other study abroad kids at AUC are for the most part pretty awesome; they seem to be a mixture of cool, adventurous, and nerdy all at the same time-- perfect, right?  Many of the regular kids, mostly Egyptians, have not moved in yet, but the ones I have met seem to be nice.  There is a lot of talk about segregation at AUC between study abroad students and Egyptian students, but hopefully we can overcome that more this year.  However, I have found that our RAs are fantastic and are pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to help out the poor foreign kids that cannot speak any Arabic, from waiting with us for buses, to wrangling cabs for us at 3 am.  My Arabic vocabulary has increased leaps and bounds from what it was-- I now know about four words and one phrase.  The English equivalents of these words are:  thank you, no, hello, my name is, and my favorite, yes-- na'am. 

Back to Friday, in the afternoon a group of us traveled to Rehab, a town about 15 minutes away from campus where we went to a shopping market to get general stuff like hand soap and laundry detergent; then we walked to a phone store and bought cheap Egyptian cell phones so that we can get into contact with each other.  At night, residence life set up a felucca ride on the Nile, in Cairo.  For those readers that do not know, a felucca is like a sail boat on the Nile (ours held about 15 people), and because our group waited until last we also got one of the longest rides on Friday night.  Sailing on the Nile at night is awesome because you get a great view of all of the lights in the city and the weather is so cool with the breeze from the water.  After the felucca ride, we decided to walk around the city  and one of the awesome RAs came with us.  We ended up at a nifty hole-in-the-wall place and were able to smoke sheesha (hookah) and drink hibiscus tea, which is my new favorite drink.  Another lesson in terms for those that do not know:  sheesha (or hookah as it is called in the US) is a water pipe with flavors like apple, mint, melon, and so on, for more detail just check out the pictures.  It was great just sitting around chillin' and getting to know everyone in the group that came.  When we left the city at 3am the city was still bustling.  From the city to New Cairo we took taxis; this trip was my first infamous Cairo taxi ride and it was super fun!  Cairo drivers weave in and out of traffic at all sorts of crazy speeds, but the surprising thing is that they know what they are doing and have a whole series of signals to communicate with each other.  When we got in at 4am I took a shower and came back to my room and I had a roommate.  Her name is Eva and she is from Germany.  Finally, I made it to bed around 5ish and slept really, really well being that I had been up since 9:30 the morning before.

Saturday was really chill because we just did a few things for orientation and then were able to rest most of the day until we met up at The Meeting Place.  The Meeting Place is a mall type structure which is a 20 min walk from campus and really the only thing within sight.  For dinner I tried the famous Egyptian pigeon.  Pigeon may sound like a weird meal, but they eat it nearly everywhere else in the world, and from what I heard it was brought to NY in order to eat.  Our pigeon was served with rice and potatoes and everything was very good, but I am pretty sure our pigeons were anorexic, or maybe pigeons just do not have a lot of meat in general (probably the second guess).  We were able to prevent being ripped off at the restaurant after they claimed prices were higher during Ramadan-- aka you are American and we are going to try to slip one over on you.  Some wonderful math skills and a bit of Arabic later we were able to go downstairs and chill at an outdoor place and smoke sheesha.  On Saturday I shared mint sheesha and I think it may be my favorite because it is so fresh.  One of the girls and I have decided that perhaps one day we will have them show us how sheesha works exactly because they are always coming around and working on them to make them better.  Perhaps before I leave, I will be able to explain the art of the sheesha. 

Well, classes start in about a week so I definitely will not be updating as often then, but I will try to keep working on it until then, and even then too.  Keep checking back, reading, and commenting.  I love seeing what everyone thinks. 

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Grandma on

Now Lacy, I want you to get to studying. Pictures are nice, but I want to see some grades; preferably A's. I've heard that Adam already has an A in Band and and A in Marching. See if you can join the Cairo Marching Band as a flag girl. I'm sure they have a good football team over there and they need your support.

Judy Priester on

Hi Lacy. Father Retzlaff sent us your "blog info" so we could follow along on your journey. I am now experiencing one of the seven deadly sins - envy. Wow! You are seeing so many things, and learning so much, and you are so young. I can't imagine doing what you are doing. I will read your blogs with excitement. Hope you continue to have a wonderful semester. By the way, I see you visited the town of Engelberg. We sang the tune "Engelberg" in church yesterday. Looking back in my notes from one of Georg's classes on the hymnal, the word "Engelberg" means "angel mountain". Take care of you, have fun, and learn a lot.

Daddy on

Ya know, that Gramma post sure sounds a lot like Uncle Keith. Good to see you havin fun a learning a lot of the culture. Stay covered.

bender on

so basically i should move to cairo and fufill my life long destiny as a Cairo taxi driver! :)

sb on

hey i dont know if you even look at this anymore, but oh well. i'm thinking about transferring to auc in the fall and i'm trying to figure out where to live. i heard that hte dorms have a curfew on them? how strict is it? any suggestions? you can email me at or facebook or whatever. i'd really really appreciate any advice though!

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