New Year’s Eve hit this year with the realization that I would be spending almost half of the new year outside of my native country. I am currently sitting at the gate in RDU waiting to board the first of two flights that will eventually land me in Cairo. My parents actually got checked through to the gate, so final goodbyes have not happened quite yet. Nothing I have done to this point in my life seems to quite compare with settling in another country for a semester, so I am incredibly nervous, and more than a little excited.
Those of you who know me well know that I am the world’s actual worst packer, and for this I have no competition. I tried oh so very hard to pack into one suitcase and my backpack, and it did all fit, it’s just that my bag was definitely more than 50 pounds. To my disappointment, I will be arriving in Egypt with a tiny rolling briefcase type bag, a medium duffel, a medium-ish suitcase, and my backpack. Oh well, you can’t win them all. And honestly I can’t think of much that I would willingly remove from my suitcase if given the chance.
For those of you still wondering what I will be doing, I will be in Alexandria which is in the far north of the country and looks unbelievably gorgeous (like seriously, it looks like this). Alexandria is famous for having one of history’s most incredible libraries that sadly burnt down in ancient times, as well as being the capital of ancient Egypt under the Ptolemies, the last of whom was the famed Cleopatra. So for a history dork, this city should be a dream. Of course, the main reason I am going is to work on my Arabic, which has become my obsession and passion ever since I started studying it at Bowdoin, and Egypt is the perfect place for that.
I am studying with Middlebury which means that I will be on an Arabic only pledge (this blog and important communication excepted of course)–if you are super curious about my program you can check it out here. I will be taking a standard Arabic course, an Egyptian Arabic course, one elective (literature of the Egyptian revolution hopefully), and one one-on-one tutorial (hopefully Egyptology!). Anyway, we will be confirming those last few courses during orientation I imagine, so I will let you know how my schedule shuffles out, as so far I have just sent them a list of my top choices. I don’t totally know what to expect on the academic side, except a marked change of pace from my usual Bowdoin semesters.
I should be arriving in Egypt midday Monday, which with the seven hour time difference makes it very early morning Monday on the East Coast. I will try to update this once I get a chance to let you all know that I have arrived safely! I won’t make any promises as to how often I will update this blog, but I will try to keep you posted on my adventures this semester! Please comment if you read this–I expect to get homesick and any communication from home/Bowdoin (second home) will make me smile. I should have internet in my dorm, so I can be reached this semester on Facebook, skype and email (please don’t text me! I can’t meet you at Moulton at six!). I love you all and I will miss you this semester. Please keep in touch and I will try my best to do the same! Also send me addresses and I will try to send a postcard, though I am told about 15% of mail gets lost…oh well. Wish me luck!
Update: I am now at JFK airport waiting on my delayed flight to Cairo! So far so good except the 2.5 hour delay. I am collecting good omens though–the Delta napkins have a polar bear face! Anyway, still safe, still sound!