The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

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

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, September 30, 2010

So, it has been a little over a week since I have updated, but not that much has happened since I last updated.  I have managed to find a bit of a routine, which involved going to class during the days and into town (aka the city) whenever I have time.  My classes are still going well, especially Arabic, even though I sometimes feel that it is kicking my butt.  My Arabic professor is amazing and has even offered to help me meet more Egyptians by putting me into contact with her friend's daughter.  I am very excited that I can now read in Arabic, the process is very slow and I sound pretty dumb when I pronounce the words so slowly, but I am starting to get there.  The other night, a friend and I went to a cafe and we were able to read part of the all Arabic menu.  Being in country and studying Arabic is so helpful because you are surrounded by signs and things to read.  When I came into Egypt, I knew almost no Arabic (every once and a while I will recognize a word I heard from Rosetta Stone, which I attempted a bit before I came).  Yet another note on Arabic:  there are many, many different dialects-- as in most languages.  There is formal Arabic, referred to as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA or fusa), but in Egypt they speak Egyptian Colloquial (aka amaya).  The class I am taking is MSA, which sometimes presents a problem when speaking with Egyptians.  I am taking MSA, though, because it was the only intensive option and it is recognized in more countries.  Luckily, most Egyptians understand enough MSA for me to get by when speaking with them, and I am trying to practice as much as possible when my friends and I go out grocery shopping and to cafes. 

A note on cafes in Egypt:  they are awesome!  I have discovered the only way to study in Egypt is taking your books to a cafe, and reading while you sip the infamous mint tea and smoke (a mint flavored) sheesha.  However, cafes are not only for studying, they are the place to be anytime you have time.  You can usually order anything from a full meal, to just tea or sheesha and you can sit and chat with friends for as long as you want without having to leave.  Cafes are open late into the night and you can go at practically any time and can find one nearby wherever you are.  If you are ever in Cairo, I highly suggest going into Zamalek, an upper class area in Cairo (yet still very Egyptian), and visiting The Pottery Cafe.  A few nights ago, my roommate and I went into Cairo and saw a speaker on refugees then decided to get dessert and do our reading at The Pottery Cafe.  I had an amazing apple and honey filled crape with cinnamon sprinkled over top, along with a mint tea (shei na'na) and a coconut sheesha.  I think I forgot to mention, the cafe is right off of the Nile so there was a wonderful cool night breeze blowing the entire time to keep us comfortable.  Without the temptation of my computer or my bed, I was able to get a lot of work done before we caught the bus back to the dorms

Now, onto the subject that is the title of this entry:  buses.  While in Cairo, I spend what seems like forever getting from point A to point B.  Normally, in the US, spending this much time in my car, sometimes at a dead standstill, would drive me nuts, but here it does not.  I am very content riding in a bus, talking with friends, or listening to the soothing sounds of my ipod.  I hope this patience prevails because next week I will be taking a 10 hour bus ride to Dahab, a beach city on the coast of the Sinai Peninsula.  Dahab is going to be amazing, for goodness sakes, the name means gold in Arabic; how can a place known as "gold" let me down?  Ever since I found the Lonely Planet website where Dahab was described as a backpackers paradise where you will never want to leave, I have been excited about traveling there.  Some friends and I are leaving on Tuesday and will return on Saturday.  Luckily, we have class off on Wednesday because of Armed Forces Day, and my class on Thursday has been canceled because the professor understands the needs for the international students' needs to travel as much as possible.  Needless to say, you should definitely look out for the entry after Dahab, there are likely to be some amazing pictures; perhaps some pictures taken from the top of Mt. Sinai.

In other news, I am planning on buying a plane ticket to Spain for Thanksgiving because my friend Alice is studying in Seville this semester.  Two of my friends from school, Caroline and Sarah, will be visiting her over their Thanksgiving break and I will be joining them for a few days.  I am lucky enough to have Thanksgiving day off because I am attending The "American" University; therefore, I will have a long weekend.  The week before Thanksgiving, there is another break known as the "big Eid" or "big Holiday".  I was really lucky that I came to AUC in a semester where there are both Eids, so that I have time to travel.  Over the next Eid, I am looking to travel to Turkey which should be amazing; I have been looking forward to getting over there for awhile now.     

Finally, before I wrap this up, I almost forgot to mention the sand storm that occurred last night.  Around 7 or 8 pm my roommate and I noticed it had became very windy-- it had been a bit windy all day-- and when we looked out the window, we saw a full fledged sand storm!  When you looked into the light you could see grains of sand all through the air, and when I walked to the gym, my eyes immediately started to irritate me.  When I returned from the gym, the storm was over and there were little piles of sand everywhere throughout the open part of the dorm.  Anyways, because I have no pictures to really go with this entry, I am going to take some of the campus and upload them, the campus really is beautiful and the architecture is amazing.  Not too much else going on this weekend besides some homework and going to learn how to teach English to refugees tomorrow-- I will be teaching a class to said refugees once a week downtown, starting next week. 

Hope all is well with everyone at home.  I really appreciate the love and support from last week's comments.  It is wonderful to hear from everyone anytime. 

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Daddy on

Hope you have a good time at the beach. If the ladies have to keep covered, how do they get any sun at the beach? Get lots of photos of your travels even at the shops, buses and stuff so I can relate...and have fun!

Christine on

the beach sounds awesome! there better be tons of pictures! i finally got through
all my tests, and only have one this week and then its fall break! We miss you
tons and we will have to have another skype date soon =)

aliceparish on

lacy we are getting too comfortable with our new lifestyles... what are we going to do when we go back to the us? btw, im super pumped about you coming to visit!!! and im still searching for my plane ticket. i think im going to take france off my plans so i can afford egypt :D

Gina on

Everything sounds so wonderful. I wish I had been able to have such an experience. I really enjoy reading your blogs. I feel that I am there. And I don't blame you for wanting to spend a whole year there. Take it all in and have fun. Miss you! GB

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