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!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 2 (evening)

Sherin and I went out last night with our roommates and the AIESEC guys. Turns out that Cairo has a lot going on at night! Thri (the Indian girl) said that usually go out in the evenings, because girls don't really have to pay to go anywhere. So the guys will drive them into the city and they go out to restaurants, bars, etc. The really interesting thing I realized last night was that the only people who go out at night are men and foreign women. This is because none of the young women of Cairo are allowed out of their homes after 10 or 11 o'clock (this, of course, depends on how strict the family is, but the majority of women have this curfew until they are married). At the place we went last night, there was a lot of dancing, but we also just sat around and talked a bit while some people ordered food/drinks. In comparison to Millman's birthday in  Champaign (the night we went out to Joe's at home), I'd give this a 6/10, mostly for the old American hip-hop they were playing and the fact that Max wasn't here to dance with. After we left the "Cairo Jazz Club" (apparently it plays a variety of music), we went to a juice stand. I'm not a juice person, but that was really good (not to mention it cost less than a dollar)! I had some strawberry, and it was a bit like a smoothie. 

The nicest thing about last night was getting to meet so many other AIESEC interns and AIESEC workers from Egypt! Everyone is so friendly. There were two other American girls and a German girl with us, plus more that I really don't remember. 

The really great thing about being here is the respect that men have for women. As Omar said, "we treat our women like princesses." They hold doors, won't let you carry anything, and offer to drive you everywhere. Even when dancing, these guys dance more respectfully, giving the girl space. There was one who is actually very, very good at Salsa. Also, because these guys are AIESEC workers, they're here to make sure that we have everything we need. 

All in all, it was a fun night. We got back just a few hours before Ana (Holland) and Thri had to go to work. They said it was by far the latest night they'd had (Sherin and I were feeling fine! We are still on our U.S. schedule!). So, Ana is working from home on here laptop and Thri got up this morning like a trooper and went to work (I'll have to remember to write what she does later, because it's really cool). I woke up at 2 P.M. (a combination of the late night and jet-lag), and I woke Sherin up because we were already late to meet her friend. I'm now waiting for her to get out of the shower, and we'll go start our day!


  1. It sounds like you're having a really great time so far :)
    I'm glad that you're with nice people and experiencing such wonderful things!

    1. Yes, it has been really great! AIESEC creates such an eclectic atmosphere.

  2. Hahaha glad that my birthday made it into the blog-- that really was quite the night...who knows if Egyptian nightlife will be able to compare!

    Something that I thought might intrigue you: for one of my Lit classes last semester, we read a dissertation by an anthropologist Amitav Ghosh called 'In an Antique Land' that references how Egyptians have historically called Cairo/Egypt the Arabic "Masr" rather than the British christened name "Egypt". This article gives a little more context about the dissertation itself as well as the complications and effects of the naming: (there's only a paragraph or two actually written about Masr)

    Since you're actually in Egypt I thought maybe you'd find this interesting! I know you're super busy (and since this is purely out of my own curiosity I'm asking a favor of you to read through all this) so I hope I'm not adding anymore work onto you! But if you find this compelling as well, maybe you could ask around and see the reactions of everyday citizens and whether they're more inclined to the name 'Egypt' or 'Masr' and if the use of either of the names is controversial.

    Aside from all that stuff, seems like things are coming together! Can't wait to hear more about working in Awladi.

    1. I will read this as soon as possible! I will say, I see "Masr" written ALL OVER, but in Arabic. They call their country that. I honestly feel like that word reminds me more of this country. "Egypt" reminds me of the old part of this country, the stuff that reflects the culture of the pharaohs, not the culture of the Arabs living here now. Regardless- it is an interesting debate!