Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh, silly, silly me....

In all the catching up that I had to do in that last post (excuse my long period of silence, by the way), I forgot to mention one of the most important things that have happened to me so far with regards to this program....
Not to sound cliche, but after reading that email I promptly began a cycle of jumping up and down, dancing, and screaming for joy.
Afterwards, when I was returning from a meeting with my math tutor, I found myself listening to a particularly upbeat song, and I started thinking about all the amazing experiences I'm going to have when I go. I ran all the way home from the bus stop. :-)
Yesterday, I also attended a pre-departure orientation for American AFSers from my area going abroad this summer/next year, in Birmingham, Michigan. I met people going to Turkey, Panama, Malaysia, Chile, and so forth. A few were going for a year, like the ones to Malaysia. One was going to Chile for like 2 months. And there were, interestingly, a horde of students going on a two-week summer trip to Panama. And one for a summer to Turkey. There was also a pannel of current exchange students here in the US from countries like France, Germany, and Norway, as well as a couple of friendly returnees from Belgium and Germany. This event covered a lot of things, from culture shock and language barriers to conflict with your host family and what to bring. It was mostly stuff that I had been told at one point or another already, but it was still quite informative and helpful, and all of the AFSers that I met were amazing people, and I had a good time. In other words, I'm glad I went. :)
Every time I attend an AFS event or talk to AFSers, I get more exited about that magical day in late August when, jet-lagged and exhausted, I'll be able to see the electrifying sight of the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza from my airplane window, and then the wheels of the plane will touch down in the land I've dreamed of for so many years...<3 مصر
Until I have more significant news,
This is not my picture, as I have not been to Egypt before in my life. Thank you Google Images. :P 
My best shot at trying to take a picture of myself looking exited. Don't judge XD
Nico! :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I have some catching up to do...

So, first of all, I should mention why this blog is called "A Year in the 'Mother of the World.'" This is because of a nickname given to Egypt by its people, "Umm ad-Dunya," which means "mother of the world". I think that this is a very appropriate nickname, given Egypt's fascinating and incredible history.
A few months back, I had the fortune to see my Egyptian friend Fatma, who was the first Egyptian I've ever met, the person who first exposed me to Arabic, and one of the people who got me interested in doing an exchange year. It was fabulous to reconnect with her, catch up, and to talk about my upcoming exchange. I can't wait to see her in Egypt!
Also, I figured that I should actually say something about where I am with regards to applying and stuff like that. So, essentially, earlier this school year I applied to the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, or NSLI-Y (a language-learning scholarship), and Youth Exchange and Study, or YES (a scholarship for studying in countries with significant Muslim populations). Sadly, I didn't get either of them. However, I think it's just as well, because both of those scholarships have canceled their programs to Egypt next year! That's probably why I didn't get it, because I put Egypt as my first choice for both, obviously...
But, I did get $3,000 in another scholarship: the Global Leaders, which is a scholarship for American students going abroad to either Egypt, India, Russia, China, and a few other countries. And I got $200 in the AFS Family Awards scholarship, since I hosted an Italian student and my mother was an AFSer. So, that's definitely a start. :)
Well, that's all for now. Ma' assalema,
This is a picture from the going-away party for the 2008-2009 Washtenaw AFSers: From right to left:Me, Ina(Indonesia), my sister Carson, Emanuele(our Italian brother) is behind her, Ana(Bolivia),and FATMA(EGYPT) :D
PS:Although it's not totally relevant, since I'm talking so much about going abroad, I felt obligated to say something about my trip to Italy! Well, as I might have mentioned, my mom is Italian, and I speak the language. I also visit family there often. My last trip was from March 30 to April 9 of this year. My sister and I went by ourselves for the first time. I had a lot of fun! :D Most of the trip was spent in the small towns called Viadana and Dosolo where our family lives, but we also traveled a bit, to Parma, a nearby lakeside spa resort, and Pisa. I had an amazing time, and reconnected with my relatives, classmates, and friends. And practiced my Italian, of course. Good times :) That's all for now ^_^
The beach in Viareggio, a town in Tuscany
In Viadana
PISA! (note the Leaning Tower in the background xD)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Year in the Mother of the World

Assalamu 3aleikum! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I'll introduce myself briefly: I'm Nicholas Borbely. I usually go by Nico, a nickname I've had my entire life. I'm 15 years old, I'm half Italian and half American, and I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I speak Italian and Spanish in addition to English, and I'm working on Arabic. I'm passionate about many different things, such as birds, foreign languages/cultures, traveling, skiing, skating, swimming, photography, writing/reading, poetry, and the like.
I'm fascinated by the world around me, and I love visiting places I've never been to before. I want to travel all over the world and learn an astronomical amount of languages, including Finnish, Portuguese, German, Turkish, Farsi, Swedish, Hungarian, Hebrew, Icelandic, and so forth. ^_^
Ever since I was twelve, one of my greatest dreams has been to go on an AFS year to Egypt. One reason I want to go is because AFS is in my blood. My mother, who was born and raised in a small town in northern Italy, first came to the USA as an exchange student with AFS. She has volunteered for AFS for many years, so every year I've had the opportunity to befriend the new exchange students that come to our area. Also, my family hosted an Italian AFSer from Sicily a few years back, who I love like a brother. I've even gone to visit him in his home town while in Italy! He introduced me to many of his exchange student friends, and seeing how great an experience it was, I decided I wanted to go too. 
So, why Egypt? Partly because I've been fascinated by ancient Egypt ever since I was little. I find the monumental history of the pharoahs and all they left behind beautiful and intriguing. Additionally, for a few years now, I've been very interested in Arab and Islamic culture in general, and I find Arabic to be a beautiful, alluring language with a rich literature built around it. It is also very useful, given the large amount of countries where it is spoken and people who speak it. Therefore, I combined these various elements into the incredible modern country of Egypt. :D
I will go next year to Egypt on an AFS year program for eleven months, inshallah.
After years of hope and imagining, finally having the experience within my grasp is nothing less than intoxicating. I can't wait to go immerse myself at last in that beautiful country and all that it has to offer. 
Starting with a (former) AFS student, I've had some exposure to the beautiful Arabic language. Now, three years later, I can finally read and write decently, and although I have a long way to go before I'll be fluent, I've made considerable spoken progress as well. If I could just stop mixing up Standard Arabic and Egyptian dialect (I'm learning both; they're pretty different)....:)
Thank you so much for taking an interest in my upcoming experience!!
Ma' assalemah,
My two countries :)

the flag of my country of choice, courtesy of Google Images :3

some calligraphy showing the Arabic word for Arabic, "Al-3arabiyyah"
some pretty Arabic calligraphy!


Nico :)