Once More, With Feeling: This Time, in Alexandria
As I sort of expected when I last posted on this blog from a little Internet cafe off Rue Hamra in Beirut, I never updated about my situation again. I assume that everyone who cared to know has figured out that I got home safely. When I got back, I didn’t really want to think about it anymore. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my travels (though O! there have certainly been many), it’s how to really be where I am. It’s a hard thing to describe, but those of you who know what I mean will know what I mean. So, when I got back, I was totally in America, and that meant that I wasn’t really able to wrap up my thoughts from half a world away.
Perhaps the lesson some people would learn from that whole mess is that they can’t handle spending that much time overseas at once. Perhaps that is the logical conclusion. I never claimed to be a very logical person. I started planning my semester abroad about a week or so after I got back, and now here I am at the beginning of the new year, getting ready to spend the first five months of 2011 in Egypt.
It took a while for me to decide where and when I wanted to study abroad, but there was a part of me that knew all along that I would be going to Alexandria. The Middlebury program there was one of the first I came across in my research, but I convinced myself that I didn’t want to go to Egypt. I wanted to go to Syria, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait–anywhere in the Arab world, I told myself, anywhere but Jordan again or Egypt. Everyone studies abroad in Egypt, I said to myself. That, obviously, makes it boring.
However, after considering the academics of the situation (including looking at an “advanced” Arabic syllabus for another program that was based on the first book of the Al-Kitaab series), it turned out that Alexandria was calling my name.
Fast forward a few months and a lot of paper work and here I am, sitting in my living room staring at two suitcases (I haven’t decided which one I’m bringing yet) and a pile of clothes and reflecting, once again, on why I do things like this. This is my third trip to the Middle East. The first time, it was basically on a whim. I applied for a scholarship to learn Arabic because I thought it sounded fun, and maybe it would lead to some kind of government career track. The second time, it was because I had latched onto the possibility of that career track, and because I thought it would be a fabulous adventure.
Now? I don’t want to work for the government anymore. I don’t want to be an “adventurer.” I don’t want to travel and write down my exotic tales and observations about The Orient. Maybe I want to go to graduate school? Maybe I want to work in a non-profit and be poor all my life? I don’t know.
What I do know: I will be arriving in Cairo on January 6th, Alexandria on the 8th. I have a flight back from Cairo on May 20th. In the intervening time, I will be speaking a lot of Arabic, enjoying the Mediterranean climate, eating a lot of fuul, visiting Beirut for real (maybe), and starting my third decade of life.
This blog will be chronicling that life. If you’d like to follow along, there’s a “subscribe” button in the right-hand margin. I promise to be more interesting once I’m in Egypt. kthnx.