Travel Map

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

End of the Semester Senioritis

So...I only have one class left and 3 more assignments then I'm done with my first semester of grad school!  The last two months have flown by and I can't believe it's the middle of December already- well, mostly because it's still green here...
I can not concentrate on my last full paper...I'm much more fond of contemporary social theory than the old dead white guys and I find their original readings to be somewhat passé, although important, they've also been used so many times that it gets difficult to care....I also have sooo much to do in the next five days that I think my brain has shut down in self preservation :)  It's gonna be nice to have a 3 week vacation with optional reading and plenty of old friends and alcohol! and bacon....oh god, bacon....
So, I'm still not jaded (which is great bc it's only been 4 months) and I still like Cairo.  It's nice to start knowing areas and seeing familiar landmarks- makes it feel more like home.
I found an apartment (insha'allah) and will move in when I get back.  It's in an Egyptian area, as opposed to an expat area and it makes me nervous...but in a grow-some-ovaries kinda way.  I'm an adult, time to act like one and get out there, plus, as an anthropologist I need to experience "real" Cairo. I'm excited!
Maybe I'm in the writing mood, time to try one more look at Weber for something interesting to say in 10 pages.....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks in Cairo

The semester got pretty rough this last month and a half; thus the no writing in my blog.  School, work, friends, I had an issue with each and it drained me and I had a hard time finding the energy to put it all into words that wouldn't sound self-pitying.
Today is Thanksgiving.  Well, it's only 5 am at home so most people are already asleep. I've already eaten.  A few days ago I found out that everyone I hang out with here was going to be gone today and that i would be celebrating alone.  I was worried that I would be really homesick and cry in my stuffing.  However.....
Mom sent me 2 boxes of stove top stuffing and I was able to save one until today so just having my favorite Thanksgiving dish is equal to a mood elevator.  I also somehow ended  up with the fixings for mashed potatoes- my other favorite dish!  Turkey is good, but always served as more of a palate cleanser for the other two anyway.  So I made my stuffing, mashed my potatoes with garlic and yumminess and turned on the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street.  That's about all I needed.  Yes I miss my family but we're going to recreate Thanksgiving dinner on Christmas anyway and thanks to the internet I get to talk to them often.  So, here's what i'm thankful for this year (in random order):
1.  Cairo- I get to live in an amazing city (well, near it) and experience something interesting every time I go out.
2. Stuffing!- thank god mom sent me some!
3. Internet- without it I think I would be more homesick but emails and skype and IMing have kept me in touch with all the people I miss and I don't feel so alone.
4. Family and Friends- without the support of all the people I love I could never have found the confidence to move 7,000 miles away from home and after 3 months, finally feel comfortable here.  I know that I have a safety net if ever I should fall and that in itself is the most amazing thing to be grateful for.

In less than a month I'll be home.  I have mixed feelings.  On one hand it will be amazing to see everyone and be home to celebrate Christmas and have  some normalcy which I have extricated from my life.  However, I also feel like it might set me back.  After 3 months I feel like I belong here.  Things are settling down and I feel more comfortable in everyday happenings.  Spending 3 weeks away might make it harder to come back.  But these are the breaks :)

Classes.....oh classes.  I guess I was lulled into a false sense of security in the beginning of the semester.   That coupled with my horrendous procrastination skills and being sick these last 4 days have kinda made this last part of the semester super exciting!  Tons of essays, paper, drafts of my thesis proposal.  I'm not good at working on my own (something I need to get over, pronto) and I've been neglecting my thesis research because it feels like I'm doing something naughty.  Let me explain:  I enjoy reading about my thesis topic so much, and it's something I've been interested in for so long that when I do "research" it feels like recreational reading and it's fun; therefore, I should be doing reading for classes which is slightly laborious and lacking in fun.  Hilarious.  I know I picked the right topic then...

So far grad school is fun- in the way that we're given more agency (I'm trying to enjoy that part) and we finally get to study a topic of our choice.  I think next semester will be different, though.  The first semester at a new school in a new program is always a little rough.  You need to push boundaries, see when you can fudge a little and when you need to work your ass off.  When I get back from vacation I'll feel a little more prepared to work.  I think I experience culture shock in a nice capsule of denial.  I don't feel like I have culture shock, I enjoy new experiences, but I also don't seem to have the energy to do anything too strenuous which means I'm stressed on some level.  When I come back I'll be in my own apartment, insha'allah, and living off campus will help me feel more like an adult than I do in the dorms.  Having never lived in the dorms it's been an interesting experience....I feel like I'm 18 again.

Off to finish my holiday movie and spend one more day recovering.  The weekend is for work!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I wait for sleep to come as it provides some brief reprieve from the monotony of the days

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ah School

Now that school has started I have less to write about...fewer adventures and more time in.  It's still only the end of the second week of classes so I'm still getting a feel for things.  However, I can't help feeling dumb.  I know wherever you are in life there's someone smarter or more cutting edge and you should only compete with yourself bla blah...
I'm excited to start my research although I have no idea how to do it and where to begin.  I suppose I need to work with two agencies mainly but I don't know whom I should speak with and what I exactly want to know.  Well, such is the start of a Masters I guess.  I'm scared because a few people I've talked to seem to think my thesis will have to be twice as long as normal since it will be for two degrees.  That's about 250 pages.  That's a book!  I tried writing a book once, never finished....
I feel slightly renewed in my fervor, however, as it seems an opportunity has presented itself.  It may not pan out but it could be another rewarding experience and something valuable for my cv.  Speaking of, I applied for a winter internship at the World Health Organization.  They say it's really hard to be chosen so I'm not worrying about it.  I figure if they see my name enough they'll eventually pay attention.  (the only issue if I do get chosen is finding funding to pay for it since all expenses are my responsibility but I'll worry about it if it come to that).

I love that every time I leave campus I have a story.  Long story short- wanted to see the pyramids at sunset and get some cool pics. Taxi driver didn't know where the pyramids where.  THE pyramids.  Last remaining wonder of the ancient world PYRAMIDS and he took us to pyramid street.  Oh my.  And everyone neglected to tell us that the pyramids close, that's right, at sunset.  So....we went to Zamalek and had a nice little night out.  Real trip to the pyramids postponed until we make plans and double check that the pyramids will be open.  Still not sure how you close something like that, it's like closing a mountain....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Red Sea is Really Blue

At the end of Ramadan there's a 3 day feast called Eid al Fetr.  We were informed by many other students that no one stays in Cairo and everyone takes advantage of the break for a mini-vacay.  Well, realizing that after this break I will really start grad school I desperately wanted to go somewhere.  On the Sinai there's a town called Dahab that was recommended many times as a beautiful place for diving/snorkeling and just general beach time. roommate and another friend decided, "what the heck, let's go with out anyone's help!"  That's not exactly true, we asked people where the bus station was and the best way to get tickets.
So, middle of the night in Cairo and we are in the up-scale neighborhood of Heliopolis, wandering around the mall and just killing time.  The 11 o'clock bus we had intended to get on was booked so we had to get tickets on the 2 am bus.  Did I mention that the bus ride is about 8 hours from Cairo to Dahab?  So at 1am we take a cab to the bus station and attempt to get tickets.
Now, on a side note, cab rides here are always an adventure.  Sometimes the drivers don't know where to go but they'll pick you up for the fare anyway.  Sometimes they don't have a meter and you get to bargain over the price.  This includes,
"How much?"
"So far over the norm that you'll either be a stupid tourist and say yes or we'll bargain," etc.
Always settle on the fare before you get in. They aren't too agreeable about pulling over after a few blocks.
Back at the station, thank god one of the girls speaks passable Arabic and we were able to figure out where our bus was coming and get on the right one.  We were a little nervous because we were the only women waiting in the station. At 2am.  Slightly conspicuous.

We get on the bus and discover that we don't just sit anywhere but there are assigned seats. Oops.  So we end up in the very front seats which affords us no room for our legs or carry-ons.  Slightly uncomfortable ride....And the drivers were creepy and kept staring at us in their rear-view mirrors and trying to find out if we had husbands or not.  Crank up the iPod and pretend to be asleep....
So Dahab is gorgeous and right on the Red Sea.  Our hostel is so close to the water that when the tide comes in it comes part way up the wall.  Our room was cute and just what we needed.
We had a great time shopping along the waterway that first night and dining on the roof.  I enjoyed some shisha as dessert while the other girls fended off the millions of cats that roam the area looking for scraps.  Day two we waded into the water and got to see a ton of starfish and snails while we felt the rush of the warm water on our legs.  It was nice to be on a beach :)  We also went horse back riding along the water and through a lagoon and I was proud of my girls, they did great.  Especially riding english, which is no easy task when you haven't been many times and the guide had us trotting most of the ride.
We dined under the stars again and got to see the crescent moon and accompanying star that makes me think of some nation's flags.
The next morning we only encountered a small hassle which dealt with the bill at our hostel.  Always get a receipt since cash is the majority currency....
The bus back was a lot less crowded, the seats were nicer, and the trip was faster.  We arrived home tired but content.  At least I did.  Something about the beach always refreshes me.  I had a great time and can't wait for the next big Eid which will be before thanksgiving.  We're planning something big for that one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Desert Wind

Moving to a new city is always challenging.  There's the issue of obtaining basic necessities: food, water, shelter. After those needs are met, there are others that beg to be exercised.  I never expected to feel isolated in a city of 20 million people.  Being in a new "mega city" has its perks (so I'm told): less pollution, noise and otherwise,  less crowding, less trash, etc.  However, I find it lacking in one of the fundamental privileges of living in a city: people.  Since the world changed tactics and left the agrarian life aside humans have adapted to overcrowding and rationing resources.  But in the city there was more life!  More access to one's desires.  The view my window affords me is of a stone wall.  Desert trees break the monotony of tan but bring no sense of life to the view.  The only people I see from my window are the guards employed by the University to see to our safety.  A few of them chat, laugh, drive by on golf carts but the sense of isolation is acute.  
     Many of my fellow adventurers are having difficulties adjusting to the location, I feel like I never left home, it just got hotter.  Here in "little America" we are denied the opportunities that living off-campus would have provided.  I want to experience the city!  I want to be subjected to "noise pollution;" in fact, I can't sleep in stone-silence and have always needed some proof of life in order to feel comfortable enough to sleep.  I think on the tribes of Bedouins existing in desert silence with only a small group as a buffer to the loneliness.  I couldn't do it.  

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ima Own This

Had my first class, the class that "everyone" dreads: Classical Social Thought, i.e THEORY!!! dun dun dun.....
I actually seem to enjoy the foundations of different disciplines:  ballet, dressage, theory!
I think I would probably be more scared if I hadn't been so prepared.  Every theorist that is listed on the syllabus is familiar to me.  yay!
I'll probably freak out when I add my other classes to the mix and don't have time to expostulate on various social theories but as of right now, i'm heaving a sigh of relief.  My next class is going to stress me out because of transportation and I can barely understand the professor, I have no idea what the class entails.
Should be interesting.
My mantra for the semester:
This is the worst place to do it and I can't afford to get less than an A. goes.  This semester is mine!

Summer is Over

Summer officially ended.  Today is the first day of classes!  I'm excited, a little nervous, but I know I'm well prepared.
I had a fun week- got to go out a couple of times in Zamalek which included a rooftop bar over-looking the Nile. Amazing.  I think that's the neighborhood I want to move to.  It's full of trees and historic buildings and expats so it has a huge international community.  It's hard hanging out with only American students however, or people that are trying to create their homes in Cairo.  Maybe that's why there's so much anxiety in first years- you want Cairo to feel like home but it doesn't.  I'm here to experience something different so i'm trying to take everything as it comes.  It helps that other people are worried and I can put on a brave face to calm them down. Maybe I would be freaking out if everyone else were calm.
I've loved it so far.  yes, the bureaucracy of trying to finalize the financial aspect of school  is annoying but so far I haven't questioned my decision to come here.  I've also had 2 years of mental prep....
I love Arabic.  I'm in that frustrating stage where I remember some things but not enough for it to be useful.  It's fun listening to other people and trying to figure out what they're saying, though.  Arabic is so pretty, even the sounds are curved.
Off to the gym to start this semester with good habits.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can't Stop Smiling

So I needed a few days to settle in before I started blogging again.  I feel more settled in my dorm room- got a bowl and a plate and some silverware and a few meager groceries.  Finally got my ID card activated to get in and out of my room and the suite.  Spoke to some people in the Anth dept, have yet to hear from the Migration studies dept....going to harass them tomorrow.
So today I decided to head to the downtown campus because I was told that was where MRS was located and I need to discuss my degree program with  them.  I didn't feel comfortable going alone so I went with one of my suite-mates.  We get to the campus after a 40 min bus ride, find someone to ask where the office is located, go up 5 flights of stairs....aaaaaand it turns out the dept has moved to new campus.  Where I live.  Where I just left. Welcome to Egypt.
After that my roomie and I decided to go find real food (sadly the campus food in Egypt is just as bad as the campus food in the US) and I manage to find a restaurant that I walked by the other day.  Go me.  It was a gorgeous restaurant and although the employees were going to break fast soon they let us sit and eat.  It was great Egyptian food- kofta, falafel, tahina, dolma, pita and we were stuffed!  The advantage to the heat is that you don't get hungry so we've been saving money on food ;)  Then we wandered around, went to a few shops, and met my suite-mate's new friend at a coffee shop.  It was a very American coffee shop.  Don't get me wrong, it was tasty but I kinda just left that environment so I was more in the mood for something "local."  The friend showed up in an agitated state because she had just been harassed on her walk over.  Sadly this is a common occurrence on the streets of Cairo, no matter how you're dressed, and it's something women have to be prepared to deal with.
After coffee we went to a roof-top bar that the friend had heard about and we ordered beer.  Heineken.  Still skunky, even in Africa.  Then we got shisha and stared at the boats on the Nile and the high rises all around us.   God, it was such an amazing moment.  I know that later I will get stressed and I may even come to be sick of this place but tonight, at that moment, I had never been so glad that I made the choice to come here.
Shukran, Cairo, for being awesome :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I can't believe it, I finally made it.  The flight was long but I passed the time talking to a nice Egyptian man who lives in Florida.  All of my aprehensions disapated... Almost the whole plane was full of other students for AUC and they were portraying the loud American pretty well.  I could tell they were undergrads, anyway ;)  A representative from AUC was waiting for us at the gate and herded us through everything, we didn't even have to go through customs which was nice. 
I'm all unpacked and ready for...bed? lunch?  My body is confused.  It's a cute little dorm room- I get a desk and a double dresser so there's room for plenty of my junk. I have a lovely view of a chain-link fence out of  my window.....we only have two people to a bathroom which is managable.  I think bed is a good bet for now and I'll figure out how to get food and water in the morning lol.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Night in the Country

Here it is, at last.  It feels like I was just on vacation and now I’m heading home…I guess I am. Not excited or nervous yet in the way of real heart palpitations- I think loading on the plane will bring it all home.  Had a last-minute shopping trip to get stuff for the plane.  We learned on our last trip to bring at least a change of shirt and underwear, toothbrush/toothpaste, tide pen, toilet paper (for Egypt), deodorant, and hair ties.  I charged my Nook and my laptop, charging my phone overnight….I think aside from hemming some pants I’m ready! 

I should really study some Arabic but I’m scared I’ll get arrested or something…just watched Rendition.  Good movie.  Had a lot to say about US foreign policy. 

No pearls of wisdom tonight.  Too much running through my head.  Worried about weather delays which could delay my airport pick up in Cairo.  Wondering how to change over some money that I left out…no way to deposit it now and I won’t get a very good exchange rate there.  Hoping I will love Egypt as much as I did the first time and not collapse into a sobbing heap in my dorm room.  There are those memories that we shroud in rose-colored glass and when exposed the reality is merely rusted.  Everyone has hardships in grad school.  I love Anthropology because it’s a challenging field and I want to push myself and see where my limits are.  I want to see new things and learn to understand someone else’s point of view.  This will be a good thing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Today's journey isn't as strenuous as next week's will be so it's nice to be able to relax and enjoy the time.  It's so odd, these airplanes and airports, these non-places that make us feel like we haven't gone anywhere but suddenly time has passed and it's dinner when we left at breakfast.  And now we don't even have to be bothered by other travelers as we play on our laptops (like I'm doing right now), our mp3 players, smart phones, and eReaders.  These little pockets of isolation may be a comfort to many American travelers but we lose the adventure of long trips on a train or car, the necessity of getting to know one's fellows in order to pass the time.  Each encounter adds a new gyri that forms a piece of our identity.  So when we spend the whole time with ourselves, who do we become?

Last Night

I had a great time with everyone my last night going out.  We played pub trivia which is always a good time and drank and just had fun.  I couldn't have asked for more. 
Today was a good day.  Despite the "slight" hangover I got a lot done and got to talk to people that mattered.  Spent some time on the phone with my siblings which was really nice :)  Had to say goodbye to my oldest friend which left us sobbing and laughing in the middle of downtown.  I know this isn't goodbye forever but it's always hard when change happens. 

I got to enjoy a lot of the Springs today, taking in the sights and really appreciating it. 
It was a nice city to grow up in and you can't beat the scenery.  I've done my time, though, and I'm ready for something new.  It still seems unreal....wherever I've been this has always been home.  I know I'll be back to visit, too, but I am moving away. If I keep thinking about it like that then I'll be better prepared.  I had a good time with my parents as well which makes me feel better.  Have to get up at 3am tomorrow...I may not sleep. 
Excited to see beautiful upstate New York and have a fun week of relaxation before everything changes.  Many more pics to come.

Monday, August 16, 2010

T-minus 2 Days

So yesterday was kind of a bust.  It was supposed to be a last whole day with my parents but they were cranky and didn't want to do anything.  We went to best buy and Dad bought me a converter set which is awesome because it's really expensive.  Then we went home.  And sat there. And watched stuff on tv.  Then Dad and I yelled at each other for something ridiculous which caused him to go upstairs which caused me to cry while trying to teach my mother about the internet and skype.  After a few hours I talked them into going to Rico's and getting something to eat.  That went well...kinda.  Mom kept apologizing for them being boring and set in their ways.  That wasn't the issue- I just thought they could be boring and stick to their routine next week.  We still have Tuesday night, since tonight is pub quiz :)  Hopefully tues and wed morning will redeem us.   It's just frustrating because we're out of second chances.  Maybe we all put too many expectations on the day and the stress got to us....sigh.
Tonight I'll really be saying goodbye to most of my friends.  I think it'll really hit me then.  I cleaned mom's car to get it ready to give back to her, I need to put away all the junk I cleaned out...Then off to lunch, a cocktail, wine, and pub quiz.  Tomorrow is my last day to get everything ready and enjoy Colorado.  I know I'll probably be back at Christmas but that will be a visit.  I keep trying to tell people this is not temporary.  (unless I completely hate it which I doubt) I need to get outside and take a walk or something....I can play on my computer later.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Running out of Time

Yesterday I went shopping with my mom and got almost everything I need.  Today is cleaning/moving day/say goodbye to Tom day and tomorrow I’ll hang out with my parents.  Oh man, I can’t believe I’m leaving in just 4 short days!  Summer took forever but the last 2 weeks have flown by.  I got some long pants that should be cooler than jeans (I hope) and some undershirts so I don't have to buy a whole new bunch of shirts, along with cosmetics and toiletries.    I know I won’t be camping or anything but I don’t want to have to attempt a major store run when I get there.  I think I’ll be ok, and if not maybe the campus store will have things. Still need a converter….

I’m enjoying a nice last day of autonomy.  Drinking some beautiful french press, watching a dumb movie, clean house, happy animals.  After today I’ll be living with people again and have to cherish moments of solitude.  I can’t wait to meet my fellow grad students and start exploring Cairo!  Back to the sites and the souks and awahs (bazaars and coffee houses). I have this bad habit of imagining all the bad things that could happen as a mode of preparation, but it also causes me anxiety.  I need to remember how much I loved it 2 years ago and how ready I am to go back and start my research.  It’s so exciting- my classes are going to be great and I will not procrastinate on my homework! (maybe if I say it here i can be held accountable.) 

I’m ready to go to !القاهرة

Friday, August 13, 2010

By this time in two weeks i'll be !في القاهرة
So exciting!  Saying goodbye is hard and I'm trying to enjoy every day. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two Weeks

So I had intended this to be more informative on the actual process of getting ready for and going to a grad school abroad.  So far it’s been slow and steady progress.  I knew a while back that I was going to need many more vaccinations so I hopped on the website and started getting poked.  Now I have the following vaccines:

tetanus- good for 10 years

yellow fever- 5 years

meningitis- good for life unless I come in contact with infected individuals

polio- good to go

Hep A and B- good to go after a series of 3 shots

typhoid- oral variety good for 5 years

I've also gotten an HIV, syphilis, and tuberculosis test – as required by school- and a physical.  I'm not sure about water quality in the dorms and haven’t been able to find information on that.  I’m sure they have some system set up.  Health wise I’m pretty sure I’m set…unless my tests turn up something bad.

I didn’t get my passport sent out in time to get a travel visa so I’ll have to deal with getting an entry visa ($15) when I get to the airport in Cairo.  I’m mostly nervous about getting around the airport….after I make it through there will be a person with a sign waiting to take me to school.  Thank god.

I can’t believe I only have two weeks.  I need to pack, clean, and finish shopping for clothes.  I need to get my phone unlocked for international use and find out about a charger or converter.  I need a lot of converters, actually.    Get my hair done because I don’t know how much it will cost over there or even how to find a place that I could explain what I want.  Need to get my mom’s car detailed before I give it back….

And say goodbyes. I’m not good at those….I don’t want to.

Said goodbye to Chelsea’s moms yesterday and I learned two valuable things: 1. Don’t give your passport to anyone and 2. Don’t marry an Egyptian.

Thanks, Giesela :)


Off to get some work done

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I’m so excited! I just had my physical which is my final obstacle before school.  I’m sure my tests will come back just fine- looking at my arm I’m pretty sure I don’t have tuberculosis.  It’s getting really fun to tell people where I’m going.  Earlier in the year I was worried about sounding like a braggart but at this point I don’t care :) 

Money is always an issue and I just shelled out $380 for a physical.  Damn health care system.  I hope that it will work out, it usually does, I’m just a worrier. 

It’s easier to see the beauty of the Springs as I get to appreciate everything for the “last” time.  I don’t want to move back here and hopefully I won’t have to.   I love this city, i grew up here, but the political climate, geographical climate and the boredom factor are enough.  I’m ready for something else.  It’s been interested to recognize the way people talk about my move.  In a highly republican city most people can’t understand why in the world I would want to move to a predominantly Muslim country.  Well, I don’t understand why you would vote for Sarah Palin….  Most people ask how long I’ll be gone.  As if I’m being banished.  I hope to work in Egypt for my career so this is definitely a “move” and not a “visit.”  My parents can’t bring themselves to say I’m moving, they merely say I’m going to Egypt for school and I think they anticipate my return to CO when I graduate. 

I know it’s got to be hard for them:  My mother doesn’t know much about the Arab world and she tends to prefer the known to the unknown; My dad thinks all Muslims are terrorists and evil so he’s worried I’m placing myself in the jaws of the lion, as it were.  I really hope they come visit- but only if they have open minds.  As much as I would hope for my dad to learn to judge less, if he is determined to hate all he sees I’d rather he didn’t come at all and make Mom have a miserable visit.  I’m really excited for Mom to come, I think it would be so fun to do something, just the two of us.  Something life-changing…

One of my new Egyptian acquaintances asked me what I do in my life such as hobbies.  I laughed.  In two weeks everything will change.  I just can’t believe that I’m finally doing it.  When I was younger I wanted to travel but assumed I would probably only make it as far as Montana.  I never imagined I would actually be getting ready to move to Africa. Amazing how things turn out.

Friday, July 30, 2010

So Close!

I have three weeks left in Colorado and I'm getting really excited!  Have to do all the little errands I'm not sure how to do over there:  getting my purse fixed, visit to my asthetician, haircut, purchasing goods only available in the US (livescribe pen), and saying goodbyes!  The closer it gets the more I realize it IS finally happening!  I emailed the professor who shared her beautiful country with her students 2 years ago and informed her of my future trip, she was pretty excited. 
It's still hard to realize that in 3 weeks my life will be infinitely different.  I've really enjoyed my time abroad before but I've never moved anywhere....hopefully I'll love it as much as I think I will.  Some of the advice offered by seasoned students included, "make an effort to get to know the local population."  Um....yea, isn't that why someone would choose a school in a different country?  Apparently a lot of American students were too stressed out by their environment to bother with making "foreign" friends.  Heads up- you're the foreigner.  That's one of the things I'm the most excited about.  The university students we met in Tanta were so hospitable and wonderful, I won't expect less from Cairo students. 
I get to take classes again!! I really do love school and it's been hard without anything motivating my studying. 
3 weeks!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Got a job, afterall

I got a teaching assitantship :)  I'm glad that I will have some income as I just applied for more loans....eech.  The profs I'm working for sound really neat.  I hope I can do good work for them and get amazing grades so I can get a fellowship next more loans lol. 

Suddenly, now that I have a month until I leave Colorado, I don't feel like I'm going to Egypt anymore.  It seems like time is actually moving backwards....I know the time to go will spring on me at the last minute (like everything else I do) and I'll be surprised.  I guess I'm still scared something will that I have my airfare, almost all my vaccines, a place to live, frivolous toys bought, i guess i feel like it cant actually happen.  I've always been good at planning and achieving goals but....Just paranoia that I caught from my friend Tom :)
I've spent so much time focusing on getting to grad school that i now have to switch my focus to my actual thesis.  Hm....
I need to study Arabic too....
And start buying things like converters and shoes...
Ah. Maybe it'll happen after all

Friday, June 25, 2010


I'm always thinking of the future and possibilities.  Perhaps this doesn't allow me to enjoy the present as much as I should.  That said, I'm already looking at my next big break in school, the week before thanksgiving, and where I could possibly go.  Greece is the cheapest destination at under $300....which is amazing.  Malta is also's crazy to think that all of these places will now be a few hours away!  I have no idea what's going to happen next summer, if I'll be flying back to the US for various reasons or if I'll be biding my time in Egypt, cramming Arabic.  I kind of hope I could take some grad classes next summer and take Arabic during the regular year.  If I'm in Egypt for the summer, I'll get to travel more places.  I have no idea how I'm going to be funding all of this travel but I'm going to, dammit!  I've always been able to find a way- foregoing bill and other nuisances- in order to experience some adventure.  I'm still hoping I can "hop" over to Ecuador during spring break and meet up with everyone down there for field school, say hello to all my friends in the community and all that.  I don't know when I can get back there otherwise and I do miss everyone. 
Wow, just to think that growing up I would read about "exotic" places and I figured the farthest I would go is Montana.  It all started with a student trip to NY senior year of high school.  Sometimes I feel guilty that my parents haven't gone the same places or gotten to share the same experiences.  My dad was lamenting the other day that he hasn't had the opportunity to live in another country.  However, after watching him and my mother in Mexico, it might be for the best.  Dad wants the scenery but nothing to do with the people...Mom is too scared of anything new to actually enjoy herself.  I hope she'll come visit me.  My parents have finally accepted the fact that I'm going to Egypt for school, but so far my plan is to stay or return for my career.  They might as well come sooner or later, because it's inevitable.  And I think it would be good for my mom to see that all Muslims aren't terrorists.  My dad, however, I hold out little hope.  If he can at least keep his mouth shut and enjoy his time he might learn something. 
After all, Egypt is just some one's home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lazy Summer

Today my boss asked me when my last day was going to be.  I was tempted to say, "tomorrow."  Work is fine but I get tired of a pointless job that doesn't give me any purpose.  But as much as I would enjoy some time off I know I wouldn't like having nothing to do.  I think I'll quit a week before I go that way I'll have time to hang out with people, tie up loose ends, get ready, cram some Arabic! 
I should be more  motivated to study but without anyone to really practice with I guess I just forget....It seems like this summer couldn't go by any slower!  I know once I get over there I'll miss home and everyone but I've been waiting so long I'm ready to go. 
I'm so lucky to be able to stay in this amazing house, complete with a hammock and a hot tub- for free! I should just relax, read a lot, work out, and wait patiently.  I do have fun stuff to look forward to: 4th of July, Renaissance festival a couple of 5ks.  I have been getting a lot of reading done, too which is great.  I always feel like I never get to read enough while I'm in school- well, recreational reading anyway. 
Waiting for word from the school on financial aid.  Loooooots of waiting :) Damn my American impatience.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Moving right along

I'm now down to under 8 weeks before the I leave Colorado.  I've been trying not to worry about each little bump and so far things are moving right along.  The school has received my check for housing and tuition down payment and as far as they're concerned I'm ready to go, except for my physical of course.  Physical?  Am I getting an athletic scholarship? Um no but apparently they've had issues with pasty Americans dripping like flies in the heat.  Never mind that I did visit Egypt for two weeks in the summer....or that I lived in "rural" Ecuador for the summer last year....I need a physical and the list of conditions to check for is two pages long.  Things like lung capacity, heart rate, blood pressure all seem ok to me.  But what do scars on my skin or a urinalysis have to do with my schooling?  Also, the hearing test is described as "ability to hear from a distance of 20 feet away in a whispered voice" ah...
So pending those results I really am good to go!  I did have issues with the airline which was possibly going to cost me $300 or more in airfare but I finally got it worked out.  So I leave Colorado on the 18th of August to spend a terrific week viewing my friend Em's mansion in upstate NY.  Then I leave for my new home on August 24th and arrive just in time for the dorms to open and the end of Ramadan.. . I've heard things in town will be quite silent during the day as everyone is fasting and they lack caloric energy.  My first advising meeting is the 28th and classes start September 5th. 
I'm soooooooo ready to go.   I'm getting the obligatory question: "are you nervous?"  No! I've been preparing myself mentally for this move for two years!  I know I'll make cultural gaffs that I'll punish myself for over and over but I also hope that the learning and fun will outweigh my idiocy.  I also have the amazing opportunity to start working with refugees in my ethnographic methods class! I can't wait to have a job that makes a difference.....not one that caters to the privileged elite of the world.  I'm sorry, but does it really matter if your latte has too much foam while people are being systematically extinguished in places like Sudan and Palestine? 
Anyway, I'm postponing shopping for clothing because I hope it will go on sale and I also hope I'll get to go down a few sizes.  Regardless it will be kind of fun to get a whole new style of outfit.  Most of my shirts are inappropriate lol
I'm really going to enjoy last summer in Colorado.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer of Memories and Change

Packing for the summer move. Found my journal from my 2008 trip to Egypt. Hilarious! I thought I was so enlightened and understanding and some of the things I wrote made me blush at my ignorance. Serves as a nice reminder to remain humble and remember that you can never be too sensitive or polite…

A few sentences stood out to me and reminded me how long I’ve been waiting for my time in Egypt:

May 26, 2008

Will I like [Egypt] enough to go for grad school?

May 28, 2008

I like the city though. It feel more real than any other I’ve been to. Not really sure what that means…

June 2, 2008

i am in love and her name is Alexandria…The charm of the Mediterranean is upon me.

June 10, 2008

I can’t wait to move to Cairo.

Things I learned in Egypt (2008):

1. Camels are only for tourists.

2. Women are strong and independent.

3. The mosquitoes are evil!

4. Bring your own T.P. and women’s supplies!

5. Bus drivers can back a 50 ft bus through a teeny hole.

6. “Modesity” is appreciated.

7. Egypt doesn’t really have a national cuisine.

8. the people are so generous and kind!

9. Bazaars can be intimidating- say,”La shukran” and loudly!

10. The monuments really are amazing!

11. Luxor is HOT!

12. Always bargain- even in gas stations!

13. Shisha is fun!

14. Egyptian boys are beautiful :)

15. Always have a “husband” or a “brother” (as a woman)

16. Be prepared for “Egyptian time”

17. They will all say you’re beautiful to make you happy

18. Respect your tour guide!

19. American women are all prostitutes

20. When they say “kiss on the cheek” they don’t mean cheek

21. Never give away the location of your hotel

22. When in Rome…(be open)

23. Americans are dumb for being monolingual- most Egyptians speak at least 3 languages.

24. Traffic rules are suggestions

25. There’s a difference between prudery and morality

26. Egyptian children are treasures- there’s no concept of child abuse

27. Islam is not what we think in the States- fundamentalists exist in all religions but not all ppl are fundamentalists

28. Egyptians like collecting email addresses

29. Don’t ask an Egyptian for a favor unless you mean it- they are so hospitable

30. Egyptians are very comfortable with contact- so friendly!

31. Bring an antihistamine as well as bug spray, anti-diarrheal, and aspirin.

32. Traveling to foreign cultures is the best thing you can do to enrich your life and character

33. Knowing how to count is essential to peace on the trip

34. Blonde girls are from California

35. People abroad are much more aware of our politics than we are of theirs

Monday, April 5, 2010

Time to Plan!

Back from my first conference as a presenter.  It didn't go as well as I would have liked but there were many variables that I couldnt account for.  The important thing is that I'm done and I can add it to my resume.  I had more time to process the acceptance letters and decided the money isn't there for me to go in June, so, sadly, I will be waiting until August.  I feel calm and ready, which is great that I'm not scared.  I just want to go!
So, I now have a really long list of things I need to do to prepare for my journey. 
Things to do:

*discuss 2 month lease extension since my lease is up in June...where do I live?
  - Polio
  - Hep
  - Tetanus
*physical- school required
  -hiv test
*give away some things like my ps2 that i dont really use anymore and large furniture that probably wont go in storage
*pack- extra clothes, wall decor, bed, etc- all of that gets to go into storage...who know's when I'll use it again. 

Plus a ton of things to buy, the least of which is a bunch of undershirts to make my clothes more appropriate.  Ah, so nice to feel prepared.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Well, after waiting for three months I finally recieved notice that I was accepted to the Anthropology Masters program and the summer session of the Arabic Language Institute!! That means I have a lot to do before June- too much to keep writing...more later (after sleep).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Infinite Possibilities


As the days go on and I still hear no news from Egypt I begin to plan a different future.  It’s becoming rather exciting.  I’m a planner.  I plan everything in my life and I’ve always been very focused and driven.  The possibility of an open future was really frightening at first, and then I started to realize it’s like a blank journal, waiting for me to make my mark on it. 

There are several possibilities for the future:


This is a great site that gets you in contact with people who need “volunteer” workers.  Basically you get yourself to their place and they pay for your room and board.  There are many places around the world where I could utilize my long-lost equine skills. 


This blog has several great articles suggesting how to be a travel bum.  The one I like is getting a sailor’s license and crewing someone’s yacht across the ocean.  Then find another job in your new location and work from there.

3.  Foreign Service

I’m still waiting to hear if I passed the test (not likely) but if not I have a year to study and make new contacts and beef up my resume.  Whatever I do I can study for the test and take it next February.

4.  I received an excellent offer today: return with the next field school to Ecuador.  This offer is so great that it almost makes me sad that I can’t go, no matter how much I want to go to Egypt.  I loved Ecuador and the people of Agua Blanca and it would be amazing to be able to work in the community for months instead of weeks.  Our projects could actually have an impact and this time I would have time to learn Spanish. lol. 

Of course no matter what happens I will reconsider grad schools and apply to Egypt again as well as some others and hopefully start my Masters in fall 2011.  Unless AUC accepts me and I get to set sail for Africa in June!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Steps to Happiness

1. Be grateful Some study participants were asked to write letters of gratitude to people who had helped them in some way. The study found that these people reported a lasting increase in happiness – over weeks and even months – after implementing the habit. What's even more surprising: Sending the letter is not necessary. Even when people wrote letters but never delivered them to the addressee, they still reported feeling better afterwards.

2. Be optimistic – Another practice that seems to help is optimistic thinking. Study participants were asked to visualize an ideal future – for example, living with a loving and supportive partner, or finding a job that was fulfilling – and describe the image in a journal entry. After doing this for a few weeks, these people too reported increased feelings of well-being.

3. Count your blessings – People who practice writing down three good things that have happened to them every week show significant boosts in happiness, studies have found. It seems the act of focusing on the positive helps people remember reasons to be glad.

4. Use your strengths – Another study asked people to identify their greatest strengths, and then to try to use these strengths in new ways. For example, someone who says they have a good sense of humor could try telling jokes to lighten up business meetings or cheer up sad friends. This habit, too, seems to heighten happiness.

5. Commit acts of kindness – It turns out helping others also helps ourselves. People who donate time or money to charity, or who altruistically assist people in need, report improvements in their own happiness. 

So here are my 5…


1. I’m grateful that I have great parents that are supportive, each in their own way, and loving.

2. Here’s  my current idea of my ideal future:

I’m living in Cairo, over culture shock.  I’m completing my Masters while being courted by the State Department and the World Health Organization.  I’ve met a ton of really great people and am constantly busy with clubs and volunteering for refugees.  My thesis is coming out great and I’m emerging as a professional in my field.  There’s no snow!

3. I got paid. Chelsea is going to take me to the opera for my birthday!  I got a snow day from work.

4. Gonna work on this one….

5. I’m going to the community center twice this week and am going to find a way to connect more with the kids.

Try it, I think it’s working already :)

Tired of Waiting!


I still have about 3 weeks left before I find out anything about Egypt but as my 27th birthday dawns I feel I should be in a different place than I am now.  I can’t help feeling like a kid, still thinking of others as “adults.”  Shouldn’t I already be working on my career?  Or at least my Masters?  I would like to be finished with my Masters by the time I’m 30, but that depends on when I get accepted and actually start my classes.

I do believe in fate, in a way.  I believe the end result is something that is supposed to happen but there are many different ways of getting there.  For instance, what are the chances that I would register for the FSOT and the opening would be on my birthday?  I do know that the date happens more than once :) but it just seems like a good omen.  Who knows, maybe that’s the day I’ll decide on a different career path.  I would like to get into diplomacy eventually, I could skip the process and jump right in.

Bah. Waiting is difficult.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wating Game

So I did submit my application to both the Arabic Language Institute summer session and the Masters program for fall....I submitted in January and wont find out the admission decision until at least March 15th for the ALI. Waiting is the toughest.
I started worrying that I have no contingency plan if i don't get accepted to the programs. After a week of mourning I'll need to do something, as much as I enjoy using my two bachelors degrees to serve coffee I think I want more in life lol. So...since I'm not a patient person I submitted my application to register for the Foreign Services Officer Test for the State Dept. It seems like a really great job, something that would be a good use of my skills and education. They accepted my application and I now registered to take the test- in two weeks. That's a very short time to prepare but since I'm a major procrastinator it might work out for the better for me anyway. I'm not really thinking I'll pass but it gives me something to do lol.
I also need to get started on my paper for the conference which is in a month. Its funny how with a lot of free time I do less than when I had no time at all.
Waiting.....waiting....keeping my sanity by learning things....
Oh! My Arabic is going great! Although my professor moved and I cant take classes here anymore, I found a great website: that has been a great learning tool. I was actually reading greetings and deciphering sentences. Not bad for 4 months of intermittent learning lol.