Welcome to Alexandria!
So! I am in Alex. Honestly, I don’t know what else to say. There is so much here to absorb that I think trying to form a cohesive narrative would be a failed endeavor from the beginning. So, I will just leave you with a few impressions:
– I am very glad that I am in Alexandria for the semester as opposed to Cairo. While it is still obviously a big city, it is not pure CHAOS in the way that Cairo is.
– The living situation: All the girls staying in dorms on our program live on one floor. We each have an Egyptian roommate and a language partner who also lives on our floor. These girls were selected by the university to live with us (they had to interview and apply and PROMISE to keep the language pledge, in return for slightly nicer housing and, of course, the pleasure of hanging out with us). My room is a decent size. I have a bed, a desk, a closet, and a sort of drawer/shelf. There’s also a common area at the end of the hall, which is always nice to have, because I find socializing in other people’s bedrooms sort of inherently awkward.
– I am very glad that I’m living in the dorms. Though a homestay would probably be enjoyable, I like all of the girls here and it’s nice to be around people mostly my own age. (Also, the Egyptian girls are studying for their final exams now, so I figure they will only become MORE interesting when that is not the case!)
– The weather! I LOVE IT. A light sweater is all I need, if that. This is basically my ideal temperature.
– KOSHARY. IS. AMAZING. It is rice, lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, and tomato sauce mixed together. AND IT COMES WITH HOT SAUCE AND GARLIC.
– The Biblioteca Alexandrina is gorgeous. (For the ill-informed: it is a major research library that has the world’s largest open reading room [which can seat 2000+] and a helluva lot of other cool library-things.) We went on a tour of it today (it’s really near to campus), and the way they built it made it sound so sustainable! Except when you consider that a few of the millions of dollars they used to build it could have gone towards cleaning up Alex or instituting a recycling program or something. Sigh.
– Went to the mall. They had a huge Carrefour there where I bought a cell phone. The store was a) HUGE, b) PACKED, and c) DID I MENTION IT WAS HUGE AND ALSO PACKED. Apparently they were having a big sale today. I was afraid.
– On the taxi ride back to the dorms from the mall, we got lost and drove past our street. When we told the taxi driver this, he drove backwards for about half a mile down the busy street. Note to self: do not miss turn again.
– My Egyptian Arabic has already improved. This should give you an idea of how bad it was before.
– The language pledge starts on Wednesday. I am in equal parts terrified and eager for it to start. For a while I will have to decide whether to sound like an idiot and talk or be silent and maintain my linguistic dignity (such as it is).
That’s about all I have to say.