This blog was originally designed to keep me sane as I began learning Arabic. It morphed into a blog of musings about Arabic, the Middle East, and the Islamic World, as well as book reviews about those topics. Then, the blog became a place to keep my family and friends updated on my adventures while I was living abroad. During May and June of 2012, I had a 6-week long internship in Cairo, Egypt through a international student organization called AIESEC. I taught English at the Awladi Orphanage in Cairo, home to several hundred children. I lived in an apartment in Nasr City before moving to Maadi (each is a distinct area of Cairo). I experienced President Mursi's election, camped in the western desert, rode camels by the pyramids, and had countless other experiences. I have since moved past this blog, on towards new endeavors, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Arrival!




I arrived today and was picked up by two guys from AIESEC AUC.
They were both super nice, and took me to my new apartment (which I'll be sharing with Sherin and three other girls). The set-up hasn't been quite as advertised, but it's do-able. I'll post photos of it later. The girls are very nice, and I've met a lot of AIESEC-ers. I'll be commuting to work with Sherin. More on that later..

For now, the important thing is:
I'm here!

We're going to go pick up Sherin in about an hour. I'm ready to see her. Everyone is really friendly here, but it'll be nice to have her with me. I'm wishing that we had just gotten flights together, but that wasn't possible with the situation.

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The longer version of today:

So I left Chicago and got on a flight to London. It was fine. I watched movies, read, listened to music, and the 8 hours flew by. London airport was nice, kind of confusing, and freezing. It was cold and wet outside, so it didn't look so nice. While the weather sucked, the accents were awesome! It would be worth stopping there just to hear people talk so prettily. The layover in London was non-existant because I basically spent the 2 hours waiting through security, check-in, etc.

The flight from London to Cairo was short (4 hours) but not as nice. Lots of people on a little plane and lots of loud little kids. (Chicago to London was mostly business people and adults). I showed up in Cairo on time and then had to find my way out. A very nice older British man pointed me to the Visa counter and then explained how to get baggage, go through customs, etc. I would probably still be there if he hadn't been so helpful!

The AIESEC guys were outside the airport to pick me up; one came up and said "Ashley?" and introduced himself. Thankfully, I'd seen him on the fb group, so I knew who he was. (I've heard stories from the other girls about there not being anyone at the airport to pick them up! Thank goodness they were there.) So he drove us (crazily, like all Egyptians) over to the area where I'll be staying (which is not the area I was told it would be in). The guys carried my bags up everyone is now sitting around and socializing. The apartment is old and run-down (EVERYTHING is broken), but my roommates seem really nice.

According to them, the work schedule is really flexible for everyone except those who work with kids. So other workers like to just take days (or weeks) off randomly... which I find a bit odd. I'll definitely plan to be at work with Sherin tomorrow like promised. We will be taking the metro to work (like I said, the apartment isn't in the area I was told it would be in), which, from what one of my roommates has said, is super cheap. (She estimates she spends at most $10 a day on food/transport combined, but she has a 1 hour commute out to AUC campus... but she knows another girl who can do it on as little as $1 a day, living next to her work. I'll probably fall somewhere inbetween). It will be nice, again, to have Sherin with me for that.

Tonight, I'll be going to buy a SIM card and exchange my money. I was going to buy a modem, but I'm using one that is leftover from a girl before me.

Full disclosure: when I first showed up here, I was overwhelmed with the disorganization. Now that I have unpacked and talked with everyone, I feel better. It may be unorganized, but once you figure out  what is going on, things seem nice! It's definitely going to be an interesting adventure.

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