Wednesday, September 19, 2012

حياتي في مصر

In other words, my life in Egypt.
So, here is the post about my own life that I promised!
My life has been very good.
I'm adjusting as best as I can, and trying my best to pick up as much new Arabic as possible. I can understand it a bit better than I can speak it at this point. But I can definitely feel that I'm better also at speaking, compared to when I arrived. :D
I'm getting along wonderfully with my host family, I REALLY like them. :)
Communicating with my host parents is a bit of a challenge, because they don't speak very good English, and my Arabic is still terrible as well. But at least it makes for laughs!
And we're still able to communicate, and ask each other questions, even tell each other stories and talk...:) It's just that we do it in a mix of bad Arabic, bad English, and hand gesturing. xD
Needless to say, my host brothers have been a huge help to aiding our conversations thanks to their good English.
I don't really have a routine except for school. Every morning I get up at six (HA - more like 6:20) and make myself a glass of tea with milk to drink while I make myself a sandwich or two to bring to school, then I hop on the elevator and exit the building to board the school bus, and in about ten minutes I'm at school.
But after I get home it really just depends. Some days I don't do much of anything. I just do my waagib (homework) and then talk to my host mom. :) Other days, I go out with my host brothers and meet their friends and stuff like that. Then other days I just do random things.
There's not really a fixed schedule at my school, it's different every day. The only fixed thing is that there's a fifteen or so minute break at about 11 every day. School ends at about 3, except on Thursdays where it lets out at one.
There are some English and some Arabic classes, and the principal has decided to exempt me from the Arabic ones. In private language schools like Taymour, if a student or at least one of their parents has a foreign citizenship, they have the choice to be exempted from the subjects in Arabic. If they only have a foreign citizenship (like me), then they are automatically exempted.
But I am taking chemistry, math, physics, biology, French, and English.
Most of my teachers are very nice and helpful, I like them a lot. :)

But, about my school, I think I should be a little more honest about the first day:
To say that it was nos-nos was a big understatement. Terrible would be much more accurate.
One of the worst days of my life so far would be even more so. I don't know, the whole day just had a really negative feeling to it. I felt so awkward and lost, and isolated because I didn't know anyone. Then what happened was that no one told me that I had the Arabic class free, so I sat there as the teacher blathered on for a good forty-five minutes. I should have suspected, SOMEWHERE along the way, that this would happen. But somehow the words "some classes may be in Arabic" never put the picture of how I felt in that class in my mind. I could barely understand anything that the teacher was saying, and this made me feel very frustrated and upset. By the time I was told that I had a free period in religion class, and went to the library, I was feeling a huge surge of negative emotions. I was angry and lonely and very overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do. So I just sat in the library. And I will admit that I cried.
But I think that was a good thing for me, so that I could let out all of those negative emotions that I was feeling.

However, one thing that must be said is that I have no idea where the Taymour that was talked about on the website is. I'm not seeing any of the horseback riding, swimming pool, or other outlandish things that they described there. I felt really bad for thinking this, because it really is one of the best schools in the area. But to my Western eyes, it looked very dusty and run-down.

The good news is that, following the first day, every day at school was a bit better than the one before. Right from the second day, I decided that I was going to create a good, positive experience for myself in that school. So I started talking to people and socializing a bit, and by the end of the first week, I felt very happy. :)
The problem is that I still don't know most of my actual class very well at all, but I'm hoping that will change.
Also, speaking of my friends, I had a surprise a few days ago:
Remember how I said that I was the only foreigner in all of Taymour? Well, I've discovered that that's not actually true.
There are several kids that were born to Egyptian parents in North America and Italy! I've gotten to know a girl named Nehal, who was born in Canada, two boys named Youssef and Hashem, who are from the US - Texas and North Carolina, respectively - , a girl named Sarah who was born and raised in Milan, Italy, and even a boy named Okan who is half Russian and half Turkish, but has lived in Egypt for several years!
I feel very glad to know them, because apart from just being really awesome people overall, they have a lot of insights for me, and I can learn a lot from them, because they are essentially Westerners like I am, but at the same time they know the Egyptian culture very well from the inside.
Nehal in particular has a bit of a shared experience with me - she was in my class for a couple of years, and arrived here without knowing Arabic. And now she's good friends with most of the people from my class, and speaks fluent Arabic!
So things have thankfully improved a lot regarding school, which is good.
This week also felt very different from last week - last week seemed to stretch on forever, yet this week felt like it was over in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, what else has happened....? OH! I met my counselor! For other AFSers who may be confused, we call liasons "counselors" in AFS Egypt.
And for anyone who's not familiar with AFS and is probably VERY confused, these are people whose job it is to check up on a particular exchange student and their host family (separately) at least once a month.
Mine is named Gina, and I like her a lot!
She's very kind and helpful, and has a lot of insights for me as well.
The other day, I met her in a very good way:
We went to the Montaza palace that I mentioned, and met some of her good friends. And I got to swim in the sea, which was amazing. :) It was very clear and warm and beautiful, and we were also treated to great food and a very lovely sunset.

Also, along with Regina and Melanie, I've become a participant of Project Lighthouse, which is a project to educate people about Alexandrian history by eventually going on a scavenger hunt through monuments in the city! :D
My friend Fatma from AFS and my host brother Khaled are also both on the staff.
I'm very exited to participate and learn even more about the incredible rich history that I've talked about in here before!

OK, that's enough for now. I'm going to post some pictures, and then take off to spend some quality time together with my host family before I go to bed. Tomorrow is Thursday (which is pretty much the Egyptian equivalent of Friday in the US; school runs from Sunday to Thursday and then the weekend is Friday and Saturday) and I'm going both to an AFS meeting and a concert with my host brother Loay after school, so I want to be rested. :)

the logo

A picture of Khaled and me at the Opening Ceremony of PL

This is the view from my bedroom window
The emptiest beach I've ever seen - this was from the night before the meeting with Gina, when I went to the beach with Loay and a group of his friends, and had a lot of fun :)

The Mediterranean Sea and I :3

The beautiful sunset :)

Gina and I!

^I feel like this song applies to my current situation :D ENJOY IT!
(There actually is an Arabic version, from the Arabic dub of the movie "Brother Bear". But I'm not going to post it, because, admittedly, the English version is way better. :3)


  1. Italian, English, Spanish, MSA, Egyptian Arabic, French, there's just no end to the languages xD

  2. Haha there's even more where that came from, Brent! :D
    However, I don't think I'll end up learning a lot of MSA, because people don't speak it!
    And I think I'm just going to learn whatever I have to for the class and then just forget it, because honestly I don't really want to learn French xD