20 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
Things are getting back to “normal” here, although there are differences of course. On Sunday I had class, went to tutor Latin, and spent the night doing homework. Then yesterday I had class all day, and went out to dinner with Aleema and her friends. Today I’ve been doing homework since I woke up, with the exception of when I got lunch downstairs in the cafeteria. I developed a marvelous device for doing homework: a “to do” list, with things I mark off when I complete. Wow!
18 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
On Friday night I went to a party with Matteson and then we went to a cafe with Amr. Yesterday I did homework all day and met Edward for coffee in the evening and went home and did homework all night. I guess I don’t do enough homework, though, because I got a B on my first Arabic test. I just can’t figure it out, I guess, especially because I thought I was doing well in the class.
16 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
I don’t remember what I did Monday night, but I know I had long conversations with Eliza and Peter, and I decided that they are two people I will keep in my life for the rest of it. Peter is seriously considering spending a couple weeks with me in Tucson next summer, and I’m doing my best to convince him that it’s a great idea.
On Tuesday, I got up when Aleema came home from her 8:00 a.m. Arabic class and tried to pretend that I had a good reason to be sleeping until 11–as if that’s even late. I was intending to sleep much longer. Anyhow, she and Jessica and I went to Dido’s, the pasta place near the dorm, for lunch, and I headed out later to the library to work on a group assignment for Arabic with Ben, Naamah, and Joseph.
On Wednesday, I had my full day of classes, broken up by the fact that my last class, Islamic Institutions, was a lecture. Dr. Hanna had been scheduled to give a lecture on guild waqfs in Egypt in the 17th century last semester during our class time, so she told us to attend her lecture. It was very interesting, although I suspect that some of my classmates did not find it as engaging as I did. I went home and took a nap, and then I went out for Valentine’s Day with Matteson, Amr, Kamel, and a few others. We ate ice cream and they smoked shisha (luckily everyone understands that I simply don’t like smoking, whether it be cigarettes or shisha.)
Yesterday, I had my one Arabic class, then I came home and took a nap (naps are pretty consistently part of my day), and then I went to campus to meet Matteson for dinner. We went to Felfela, then headed over to Madison’s apartment for a party, where Amr and Kamel and the guys were already. Matteson suffered a pretty serious allergic reaction, and we weren’t sure what it was to, so we took her to the hospital, but she recovered alright and the doctors gave her the ok to leave, so we went back to the party. I didn’t get to sleep until 5:00 in the morning, and so I was ready to sleep all day today. I certainly did sleep all day today, but now it’s almost 6 and all I’ve done is sleep, so I’m kind of bored. I’ll probably hang out with Matteson later, but I wish Jeremy had a phone so I could see if he wants to hang out.
12 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
“I think you should do stand-up comedy.” -My Roommate. About Me. Life Goal Met.
12 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
By Friday afternoon it was beginning to become clear that I was very quickly falling very, very ill. I considered becoming a temporary recluse in my room, but around evening-time, Aleema invited me to go on a felucca ride with her, Jessica, Rob, Scott, and Rajiv, so I consented. We met Rob and Scott downstairs in Zamalek and crammed into a taxi headed for the Tahrir metro station, where we met Rajiv. I don’t know much about Rob or Scott, but Rajiv is of Indian origin (like my roommate Aleema) and a student at West Point (and is familiar with my dear friend Ashley Romero). Rajiv is also a stellar student; he’s already been nominated by West Point for the Marshall and Rhodes, and on top of that he’s a good guy. I’d like to get to know Rob and Scott better, since they seem cool. Both Rob and Rajiv aspire to go to law school, although judging by our conversations Rob intends to go the public defender route and Rajiv intends to go to the corporate law route.
After the felucca, which was rather uneventful because there was no wind and a felucca is a sailboat, we ate at the Pizza Hut in Tahrir Square. After that, I was visibly sick enough that no post-midnight partying would be had by me, so when we headed back to the Zamalek area I bid everyone farewell and retired for the evening.
On Saturday, I was largely sick the entire day, and in fact I stayed in bed feeling entirely deathly untill I had to rise to meet Joseph and Naamah for our group Arabic assignment. We had to work on a homework drill together, and then Naamah and I attempted to complete the listening assignment with only varied results. Naamah and I were able to get to know each other, and she seems to be an excellent person and rather like-minded (and we all know I used “like-mindedness” as my main metric for potential friendship). She is from New York City but attends the University of Michigan.
After that, Matteson called and invited me out, and I was extremely dismayed to tell her that I was too sick for any such social activity. I instructed her not to misread my refusal of her invitation as an indication that I don’t want to hang out with her. I then headed back to Zamalek, finished my homework, and went to bed.
On Sunday, I slept until my noon class, still rather unwell. Then I had Arabic from 12-2, then Latin tutoring. Latin tutoring will prove to be the main motivator in my week, as I simply delight in the chance to get to talk (with ultimate authority) about my favorite dead language to two paying customers. It’s fantastic. They think I’m crazy, especially after seeing how much joy I got out of their translating including some lovely, if rudimentary, parallel structure, but I think they like me (well, I hope they like me). Mrs. Stewart was kind enough to drive me back to the Metro station.
Last night there was a “meet and greet” at the dorm, which translates to free food. Aleema, Jessica and I went down to partake in this most sought-after tradition, and we ate as much as we could while socializing with Rob, Scott, Rajiv (who came all the way from another residence), someone’s roommate Mahammad, etc. Rajiv and I had an interesting discussion about post-undergrad life.
Today was the start of my real week, as I had that 9:30 art class. Once again Dr. Karim (I’m not sure if she’s a Dr. but I assume) was fascinating and the lecture was truly engaging. I’ve never had a 75-minute class pass more quickly. We learned about the Nilometer and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. After that, I had a one-hour break during which I killed time and ate a sandwich. Arabic was three hours, but it’s broken up by switching rooms in the middle, so it’s manageable. We already have a test on Wednesday, for which Naamah, Ben and Joseph and I are going to study together tomorrow evening.
Next is the second week of Islamic Law about thirty minutes from now.
9 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
Well, you’ll notice I deleted my Winter Break post, as it doesn’t really fit the theme of “Cairo,” and I have not-so-humble designs on rendering my adventure in a glossy coffee table book–and I assume the publishing interest will be staggering.
Anyway, I’m not sure if anyone still reads this (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad…), but I thought if for nothing other than my own records (remember, I am the kind of person with a file of “life lists,” which may or may not include a list of rivers I’ve visited, coded by the type of activity in which I participated at each river). My own records are plentiful.
I’m starting to think I’m bi-polar. And by “bi-polar,” I mean “moody,” and by “moody,” I mean “I have moods that change based on the situations around me.” My week of school (the first of the semester) was a downer, mostly, and primarily due to severely decreased social interaction. Last night turned it around, and once again I love everything and everyone on the planet and in Egypt. Details below.
We got in to Cairo late and Jeremy and I hailed a cab to Zamalek. I got out and he continued to Tahrir Square to secure a hostel for the night before beginning his apartment search in the morning. When I arrived, my roommate–a stranger at this point, as AUC makes no attempt to connect roommates with each other before their arrival–was asleep. I tried to be as unintrusive as possible while still managing to spread all of my belongings in an even layer on the floor. I think I succeeded in the latter. I didn’t get to use my computer or anything, as it was locked in the wardrobe, and the key to the lock was with my ex-roommate (how sad!) down in Maadi. Amber, if anyone recalls, spent the break in Maadi on a dig, as she is an aspiring Egyptologist, and she left just a couple days after I returned to Cairo.
That same morning I had my first class. I woke up a few hours after returning and headed into campus. My only class was Arabic from 12 to 2. Things didn’t go so well, as I went to the room where my schedule said it was to take place, and there was no evidence of a class. I waited until the time for it to begin, but no one came. Usually room changes are indicated by a sign posted on the door, giving the new room, but no such sign existed. I accepted that I was going to be late to the first class (the thing I avoid in my life with the most ferocity) and went to the library to check the room. Of course, it had changed–guess I missed the memo. So I went off to find “Main Campus LAB II.” One would think that a room would have some indication of, say, where it is…it took fifteen minutes to find Lab II, which is on the third floor (naturally…). Class was good, though.
Right after class was out I headed down to Maadi for my first Latin tutoring session. I managed to get myself to the Stewarts’ house and had a lovely session with the Stewart girls. Mrs. Stewart was nice enough to drive me to the Metro station from where I walked to Amber’s hotel and recovered her keyring of keys to unlock my wardrobe. After a tearful reunion and some sitting around, I headed back to Zamalek, unlocked my wardrobe, and finally met my roommate.
My roommate is Aleema, and she goes to Brown. She is a great girl and I think we’ll be friends. I also met her best friend at AUC (remember all the new students came two weeks early like I did, so they already know each other), Jessica, who is from Winston-Salem and goes to UNC Chapel Hill. They were kind enough to invite me to dinner with them, which we did with their friend Alex. I was very appreciative of the invitation, as I don’t know anyone in Egypt really anymore.
The next day I had a 9:30 class: “Art and Architecture in the City of Cairo.” It promises to be a fantastic class, with six field trips during the semester to areas of interest in Cairo. Then I had Arabic, which continued to be good, and then I ran into Jeremy and we ate lunch. He came back to Zamalek with me to recover his suitcase that he had stored in my room to take it to his newfound apartment, and after an hour or so Jeremy and I reconvened for the class we have together, Islamic Law, at 4:30. Islamic Law is with the same professor I had last semester for Studies in the Qur’an, so I know what to expect. Eric, a Harvard-graduated Fulbright grantee I had in two classes last semester, is in the course, so I was pleased with that. It promises to be as interesting (and as nebulous, perhaps) as Studies in the Qur’an.
After class, I met Amber and we went shopping for her last-minute souvenirs at the Marriott, then we went back to Zamalek together for her to get her keyring and the huge backpack I borrowed for my trip. We made plans to see each other the next day, postponing the eventuality of separation.
The next day I didn’t have class, so I slept until I felt like it, met Jeremy on campus, and we both went down to Maadi for lunch at Lucille’s. After lunch, we went to Amber’s hotel, where I made out like a bandit with all the items she couldn’t fit in her suitcases. A painful good-bye, and I resigned myself to visiting her in Australia. Best roommate ever.
I headed back to the dorm to do homework, and it was miserable, as that was all I did all evening.
On Wednesday, I had Art & Arch again, and Dr. Karim delivered a fascinating lecture on the history of the Coptic Church in Cairo. Now, I’ve studied the Coptic Church, and she covered the origin of Christianity in Egypt and the reason for splitting from the Greek Orthodox/Catholic churches extremely eloquently. Then she took us to the Rare Books Library, where all the texts we will use are on reserve.
Arabic class was good again, establishing a pattern, and after class Jeremy and I got lunch again. Then I had Islamic Institution with Dr. Hanna, whom I had last semester–I loved her. I know several people in the class, but it’s almost all master’s students (basically every grad student I know is in the course), so it will be great. I spent the evening doing Arabic homework, feeling sorry for myself that I lost all my friends to the United States.
Yesterday I had only Arabic class from 12 to 2, so I slept late and after class I went home and took a nap. Just when I was thinking that I’d spend my first weekend holed up in my room, Aleema and Jessica invited me out to a club.
The club was, and can only be described as, purgatorial. Countless people were smashed into a small space, sold overpriced drinks, and presented with terrible music to which they were expected to “dance,” which seems to be some kind of ritualized mating procedure. It, needless to say…wasn’t my style. I hope Aleema and Jessica understand that while I appreciated the invitation and felt honored to be included, “clubs” are not something that I can handle.
After I got home from the club (Aleema and Jessica were still there–I jumped at the opportunity to walk back to the dorm with someone new I had met named Chris), a friend from last semester whom I never actually hung out with (who goes to Reed, incidentally), named Matteson, called. It was 2, but that didn’t seem relevant to her insisting that she and her two Egyptian friends coem pick me up. I acquiesced, and was later extremely glad I did, because our trip with Amr and Kamel to smoke shisha at a cafe was easily the best time I’ve had in Cairo since my return. I hope to see these people again–Matteson actually seems like someone I will be good friends with (I hope).
This morning Aleema and I woke up at 1 and ambled over to Euro Deli for lunch, and now we’re contemplating naps before setting in on homework and/or going out again tonight.