It has been a couple of weeks since I returned home from Cairo. I am settled in back at home, bored with the reality of my life here in comparison with the adventures I was having in Egypt.
I feel like I should make this last post to both encourage more AIESEC interns to go to Egypt and to let them know what to expect.
First off, Egypt was not what I expected.
My intention in going to Cairo was to concentrate on working at Awladi. I thought that I'd be working full time near my home. Also, I thought I'd be living with one or two other girls, maybe cooking with them and hanging out in the evenings. I figured I'd see the Giza Pyramids at some point, and maybe travel around Cairo.
I realized from the moment that I arrived that things were not nearly so organized. For the first day and a half of my stay in Cairo, I was absolutely miserable. I was jet-lagged, the airconditioning wouldn't work, I had no phone, no internet stick, and no way to leave the apartment. I ended up in a crappy apartment, an hour and a half away from my internship. We had no way to prepare food, because the kitchen was unusable. I found that some people were going weeks without starting their internships, and I started to seriously regret my decision to go to Egypt.
However, within the week, I knew that I never wanted to leave. I ended up moving to a much, much nicer apartment five minutes from work, getting a phone, internet, and learning how to work the airconditioner. The people in AIESEC, especially the other interns, are some of the most interesting you will ever meet. I have friends from every corner of the world, and I know that I will remember the conversations forever. Egypt itself is such an interesting place to be, culturally and politically, right now. I learned so much more about politics, religion, and society by living there than I could ever get out of a textbook. I witnessed the election of Egypt's first democratically elected leader in decades, and I was in Tahrir Square for the insane celebrations that followed.
This is specifically for those people who are thinking about an internship:
There is only a small period of time in your life where you have enough free time to pick up and move wherever you want. Go abroad through AIESEC. Go to Egypt.
Not only do Egyptians have fascinating ancient history, they are also in the midst of a major political transition that will impact the region for decades to come.
Now that I'm back, I won't sugar-coat things. Traveling abroad is not for the faint of heart, and people should be prepared to be responsible for themselves. My experiences in Egypt made me such a stronger person. Egypt brushed off some of my (very American) naivety, making me slightly more cynical and much more world-wise. Before going to Egypt, I had ridden in a taxi twice and taken a metro line exactly three times. I am from an extremely small town in the middle of America, surrounded by cornfields and not much else. By the end of my trip, I felt confident in my ability to survive and thrive in a totally foreign place.
I slept under the stars in the desert, rode a camel next to the Great Pyramids, went snorkeling in the Red Sea, and experienced the serenity of sitting atop a minaret and looking around at the intense, eclectic, amazing city of Cairo at sunset. In short, I cannot more highly recommend going to Egypt.
If you are curious about my trip, you can look through this blog. On the right, you'll find the blog archives. My trip started on May the 14th, but go back to April if you want to read about my planning from the beginning. I know that when I was prepping for my trip, reading blogs made me feel a little more secure about what was ahead. However, in a place like Cairo, you never can know what to expect ;)
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!