Friday, December 14, 2012

100 days in Egypt - مائة يوم في مصر

And I honestly will say that I could not have asked for a better 100th day here.
First, I decided to go with my host mother to the middle school where she works, where some teachers and a large group of kids were working on repainting some murals.
She invited me to come, and I accepted, so at around ten in the morning we walked over to her school, which is VERY close, and then set to work.
It was a great experience to meet the teachers, and all the kids. They were, like middle schoolers anywhere in the world, a bit rambunctious and nutsy, but kind, lovable, and friendly all the same. They were all shocked that I knew how to talk to them in their language! xD
One really interesting thing was seeing a school that was very different from Taymour. This school is almost all in Arabic, in contrast to Taymour (especially the American division), since most subjects there are, of course, taught in English. It's also much less expensive than Taymour, which charges a tuition of 20,000 Egyptian pounds (about $3240) every school year.
All around, it was a really great experience, and I'm glad I came. :) My new friend Mustafa, the university-age son one of the staff members in the school (who speaks good English, although he thinks it's bad!), who also attended, took a bunch of pictures that I really want to post here, so hopefully I will be able to post them and then remove this sentence soon ;)
Afterwards, I attended an 'aqeeqa, which is the name for the equivalent of a baby shower, for a host relative's new baby, again with my host mother. This was also a wonderful thing to decide to go to with her, because I got to see relatives of theirs who I've met before, and meet lots of new ones, and it was just such a good time and a wonderful cultural experience. And the baby was SO CUTE! ^_^
Afterwards, I stopped at the barber shop right next to our apartment building to get a haircut, and that was really cool because 1) they did a good job and 2) I ended up having an amazing conversation with the friendly barbers - in Arabic! :D We talked a lot about politics and culture and so a lot of complicated formal Fus'ha words were involved, which meant that I said "eh? (what)," "tani (again)," and things of this nature, quite a few times. But I'd say I managed it pretty well. Hehehe :D

So overall, this one hundredth day, and this experience in general, have been better than I could have imagined or asked for. There have been ups, downs, good things, bad things, lessons taught and learned, lots of changes, and lots of things gained so far. And I CANNOT wait to see what the remaining 200 or so days have left in store for me.

To numerically celebrate this day, I am going to make one list of things that I would suggest to any future exchangers reading my blog/that I have learned from this experience. I will most likely not reach 100, but I'll put everything I can think of and we'll see how it turns out. :P Enjoy!

What I suggest:
1) Do not be afraid to follow your dreams.
2) Follow your heart and go to the country that you want to!
3) SPEAK THE LANGUAGE FROM DAY ONE. And don't be afraid to.
5) Embarrassing things will happen, so try to just kind of think "eh, whatever" and move on from them.
6) Learn tons of things about your host country.
7) At the same time, it is VERY important not to have expectations.
8) Keep an open mind at all times.
9) Don't be afraid to try to make friends, TALK to people as much as you can! But steer clear of anyone you dislike, of course.
10) Try to never say no to an invitation to do something (as long as it's safe and within the rules, of course), because you will see new things and meet new people that way.
11) Listening to music in your host language is extremely helpful in learning the language.
12) Try to learn how to get around your host city alone, no matter what the size, to be independent in getting around, that way you can have your own little adventures from time to time. :)
13) Alert your natural family of your safe arrival, but try to communicate little with people back home in the first few weeks, and wait until you have more of a routine and are feeling more settled in, as prolonged contact can intensify homesickness that you are likely to feel immediately upon arrival.
14) Missing things is natural - miss things, be proud of where you come from, and keep in touch with all of your family and friends. But live in the present and pay attention to what you have around you, because you will likely miss it very much when you have to go back home.
15) Teach people things about where you come from - teach them a little bit of your language, or practice it in English's case with people, answer questions, compare and contrast, clear up stereotypes, and foster intercultural understanding.
16) Returnees from your home country who went to your host country are walking encyclopedias when it comes to any questions you may have.
17) AFSers make great friends. :)
18) When you're suffering from culture shock, try to remember that someone who went from your host country to your home country is probably just as befuddled as you are.
19) Be friendly and open.
20) Look for help AROUND you when you're having problems.
21) Bring at least one formal outfit in case you have to attend formal events such as dances, weddings, or things of this nature. It may not seem that important but it really is!

That's all I can think of...I'll add anything else I think of :P
Thanks for reading!


  1. Dear Nico,

    I'm following your blog with great interest. I love ti hear about your experiences in Egypt!

    I come from Germany and was in China 10/11 with AFS. Janeen posted your blog adress in hers so that's how I know of yours.

    I would love to show your blog to some of the people who are going abroad next summer and to some who are abroad right now. I wanted to ask for your ok to give the adress to them.

    Have a great stay!

    Cheers, Lea

  2. Dear Lea,

    thank you so much! and that was sweet of Janeen to post my URL on her blog C:

    AND YES GO AHEAD AND SHARE IT TO THE WORLD, I would love that, actually :D

    hope that it can be of use to you and those going abroad.

    I am and I will continue to! :)

    Talk to you soon,

  3. Nico, thank you for taking the time to so eloquently share your experiences! I love your blog and so too do many friends and family.

  4. thanks, I'm glad to hear that, Dad. :)