Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In which I rant

What don't I miss about Cairo?

1. The traffic. Cars honking every second, the roads bumper to bumper, and aggressive drivers. This made crossing the street a life and death battle every time. I had to be pulled back more than once, since pedestrians have no right of way.

2. Hearing the saying, "As you like." I heard this all the time as my Egyptian friends tried to be accommodating to me or to be polite or something. But to me, these three words were the most frustrating words I had to hear over there. If I asked a question, but received this answer,it was like being pulled in two different directions, I never knew what was expected of me. Now, I can make decisions, but in my situation of being in a completely different culture I didn't want to offend or mess up. So this answer would make me completely frustrated and feeling like they were the ones trying to cop out.

3. The food. I gained a LOT of weight in Egypt, simply because all of the processed food I had cut out of my diet was the only option for the majority of the time. So of course my body is going to react in a negative way.

4. The oppression of women. Now the people I worked with were amazing and they are working to educate those who tear women down. But living there where sights of men in short sleeves walking down the street and then their wife would be slightly behind them in full veil, trying to hang on to three or four kids was hard. And hearing about stories where sexual comments and even physical harassment happening was so discouraging, especially when Muslim women are taught that this attention is because of something they did. But no matter what a woman wears, whether its shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, long pants and long sleeves, a head scarf or fully covered, men will approach them to get a reaction.
Even in July I was still getting slight shocks when I saw women fully covered, I would just want to run up to them and rip off the cloth and just tell them, "You are beautiful!" But I don't think that would have gone over so well.

 5. The littering. Trash is just everywhere. They don't care enough to take the time to place it in a trash can. People drop stuff in the street and keep on walking. Not even in just the street, in the waterways too. The Nile has piles of trash that just float on by, with if you look over the side of the boat in the Red Sea you are guaranteed to see something that doesn't belong. I feel so sorry for those who don't ever get to experience a break of all that.

Now...what do I miss about Cairo?
1. The people. I met some of the most amazing people and was highly encouraged by them. Mostly I met Egyptians, but through Maadi Community Chruch I met Americans, Ugandans, people from Sweden, from Holland, from all over the world! When out of my comfort zone I am very shy, but in Egypt I met so many friendly people I could only be friendly right back!
2. Trying to learn a different language. The language barrier was one of the most frustrating parts of living overseas, but I was challenged almost everyday to learn something new. I am quickly forgetting every word I learned over there and I find this very sad.

3. The independence. In the beginning I was very dependent. A bit to dependent I think. But by the end of my two months I could get on and off the metro by myself, take a taxi without getting conned (it only happened once!) and walk around at night without any fear. I don't think I could do all this in America, so feeling brave enough to push myself out there is huge.

4. The generosity. Egyptians are so generous. They put many Americans to shame, and I should probably include myself in that. They take Southern Chivalry up a notch. And it's from everyone! Not just the guys, although the ones I hung out with were total gentlemen. :)

5. Seeing such cool history. I took a Humanities class right before coming here, and we spent some time going over Ancient Egypt. At the Egyptian Museum I recognized a lot from my textbook which was really cool. And I loved getting to see the Pyramids, when I went during my first weekend, and again when I went on my last day there.
I do not regret at all leaving my great-paying and cushy summer job to go spend two months in a different country, but I do have regrets from there. I expected more people to do things for me, but when finally I figured out that I had to at least start things by myself, that's then people would follow through. This summer definitely wasn't easy, but I learned a lot and can honestly say I am looking forward to the future.



  1. Wow. So interesting seeing the differences in culture! What a great experience, even the negative ones, to help you learn and to be thankful.

  2. All I can say is "I know, right??" When I was there, I totally hated the same things and loved the same things. I was only able to spend a few days there though. I'm so glad you had such a rich experience!!

  3. I love this post. It was so awesome to be able to hear your stories in person. I'm so glad you got this experience, but I'm glad you're back with us in VA!