Monday, May 03, 2010

a little bit of chaos...

Life in Cairo is a little bit crazy. Actually, completely crazy. The rules of this program make it even more crazy. We finally secured an amazing apartment through the real estate agent assigned to us by the head of our program, and then three days later, we were told we had to find a new place cause it was too far away... such a pain. This place was seriously amazing. It was on the 18th floor of a pretty run-down building right on the nile (like 50 feet away) so the view was beautiful. You could see the pyramids on the horizon and it was big enough that I even had my own room. The landlord and his wife, Salah and Rana, were too kind and had bought us everything from baklava to toilet paper, and even wrote us a list of places to shop and eat etc. It would have been a perfect situation, but it happened to be on the border of a pretty sketchy neighborhood, and was a twenty minute walk from the metro station. Not ideal for a group of 7 girls who are coming home late at night I guess. It's pretty lame, and I really wish they would've told us about our location and things before they sent us off alone to find a place to live, and before we signed a contract, paid a month's rent and deposit, paid the real estate guy, and before we'd moved in and got settled... that would've been nice. But it also would've been convenient, and living in Cairo just isn't convenient. So we've (luckily) been excused from homework for two or three days until we find a new place and we need to go out looking again. We'll likely move in tonight or tomorrow, and it will probably be a lot smaller and older and have bugs and just be like every other Egyptian apartment. But it will be safe... insha'allah?

Besides that, things are good. I've been grocery shopping now, and got some fruit and veggies finally. I haven't gotten sick from them yet. Hopefully I won't. My poor roommate Hannah was throwing up all day yesterday. I don't know what happened to her or what she ate, but I'm glad I had packed my lunch instead of eating out with her. Poor girl.

Classes are going well too. It's so nice to be able to give Arabic 100% finally. I did that last summer when I was taking the second class and it was such a good time for me, Arabic-wise. I pushed myself so hard and learned a ton. I don't know why, but they put me in the advanced class here (there are four classes - all of us are from BYU). It's pretty random though, none of the actual best students are in class 1 with me, so I'm not getting a big head about it. They based class placement on midterm grades only, and my grade was 58%... Anyway, the point is, I'm in a hard class. They expect a ton out of us and it's really funny at times cause our teacher will ask if we know a word and we'll all say no, and so he'll go on for ten minutes explaining it and writing sentences using it on the board. Then he'll ask if we understand. We all kind of blankly nod really hesitatingly and glance around at everyone else. So then he'll say (in arabic of course... all english is strictly forbidden in this building!) "Can someone use this word in a sentence?" And then it's silence for five minutes. Finally he calls on someone, and they try. They fail, and he caves and just says it in english... ("strictly forbidden" in Egypt means forbidden unless it's inconvenient, then do what you have to... maybe offer money, that usually helps things along.")

Im getting a better feel for what's expected of me here, and thank goodness. It's hard not knowing what's going on. We're in class 4 hours a day. We don't get homework in our classes (at least not yet) and they are all taught by local Egyptians. We have to spend two hours a day talking to people on the streets (we found some super cool girls yesterday and talked for a long time with them... so fun! and funny, and then we need to read in the daily newspaper for two hours every day. We also need to study Fusha (pronounced foos-Hah, which is Modern Standard Arabic) and then another hour studying Amiyya, which is the Egyptian colloquial dialect: two very different and distinct languages. We read and watch news in Fusha, we talk in Amiyya.

I'd better get back to work... even though I technically have the day off for homework, it's just going to get me behind if I don't keep up.

I'm starting to fall back in love with this language. And, as difficult as it is, the head of our program is amazing. I'm really excited to put myself into this program he's designed and see the magic happen. Haha, we'll see...

1 comment:

  1. how lame about your apartment! i hope you get one sorted and that it is not too horrible.
    but how wonderful about the language and all that you are learning!