Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Almost forgot...Again!

Man, I cannot believe how tough re-forming this habit is. I missed it so much, but now that I'm trying to accomplish my project it is the furthest thing from my mind.

Picture # 158
 Not even remotely good tonight, but it's done. Hopefully tomorrow I'll do better. I need to start writing this down!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Two...

Wow this is going to be really much harder than I anticipated. I didn't even think about this project at all yesterday, at least not till after midnight. I'm posting two today to make up for it, but even these two I didn't think about taking till after 10 o'clock. And I had PLENTY of opportunity today, I just didn't think about it.
Anyway, I have a 7:40 class so I desperately need to get to bed.
# 157
Not going to lie, I messed around quite a bit with this because I took it right after going on a run. Now onto the second one!
# 158
I was trying to get my cat to cooperate and be in the picture but she refused. I still overall like the image, though I'm not 100% sure why. It kind of breaks the "rules," which I guess is why I chose it.

Hopefully I'll be more on top of this tomorrow!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Really, I'm going back to the 365

Wow. I took a much longer break than I ever anticipated. The bad thing about doing a project like this, is that once you stop doing it, it becomes nearly impossible to re-start again. As much as I missed working on the 365 project, it was really nice not having to worry about people's comments about me and taking the time out of my crazy day to take a decent picture. But I am determined to see this through to my 365 th self portrait!!!
My last picture was here, in Cairo, and I am re-starting on picture # 156!
This was my outfit to my school's Block Party. Thousands of people go and it really is a blast.
Can't wait to see what else I am going to be able to post up here!

*And randomly I'll probably post more pictures of Egypt. Whenever it applies to what I am talking about on here.

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.

  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where have I been?

I feel like I have been missing from my own blog for way too long. I really missed writing posts for this. But I knew I needed a break to relax and reset. So I used my one week at home to get away from all schedules (Other than my actual job which was grueling with 9-10 hour days). Now the time has flown by and I am driving back to my school early in the morning. Tomorrow my vacation officially ends. And tomorrow, I think I am going to get back into my 365 again. I had hoped to continue it over the summer, but it really became to much. And instead of learning about photography which is my goal of taking on such a discipline, every time I would just end up frustrated with no worthwhile image.

I might also type up another post about Egypt before I re-start the 365. I have a tons of pictures that I love, and I experienced a lot from my time abroad. Here are two pictures of the food in Egypt and the food at home
Breakfast (Lunch for me) in Egypt

Lunch at home, haha. 

Yes, those are Maryland crabs, and no I did not get to eat them everyday. But they are delicious!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I made it home!

After a LONG, and I mean LONG night of traveling, I finally made it home! It's so crazy to know that I was just in the Middle East, than in Europe, and now I am sitting at home in the United States.

Getting to the Cairo airport was quite stressful, but once I had my ticket in hand it was easy. One of the Egyptians working in baggage tried to convince me I needed to give him a tip. Since I only had American money left there was no way I was giving him a ten for simply lifting a few bags onto the conveyor belt. As soon as he asked I told him I had nothing for tips and then proceeded to put the rest of the bags up myself.

My terminal was quite boring until a random guy sitting across from me happened to look up and saw my college jacket. He commented on my school since he has heard many things about it. He lives in Northern VA with a lot of friends who go to VA Tech so he knew the area. We started talking and I found out that he was studying Arabic for two months in Damascus and is going into his senior year of school just like me. We started comparing the different cultures in Egypt and Syria and soon we had to board. (P.s., Middle Eastern countries are not strict at all when it comes to what you bring on a plane. They run your stuff through the equipment, but that's it. They let me bring on a bottle of water with no problems.)

And I slept a decent amount on the first flight, I'd estimate about three hours.

My new traveling buddy was headed for Dulles as well so when we had a four hour layover in Paris we talked a lot more and took turns guarding each others stuff. The time went by much faster than the last time I was in Paris where I was waiting all by myself. Finally the time came for the flight to cross the Atlantic. I pretty much watched movies the entire flight. Date Night and Invictus were great movies. I also watched an episode of Mad Men and started How to Train Your Dragon. I really want to finish this movie now, it was really funny. And the airline cut it off so abruptly, it was actually in the middle of a sentence. Sigh.

Already since I've been home I'm back into texting mode with my friends who I know have been worried/thinking about me and my travels. I love technology and I had missed my phone so much. I used a company phone while I was in Egypt but it's not the same as being able to use your own phone. ...And I just realized that I didn't delete contacts or pictures that I had added over the summer. So whoever gets the phone after me will get a surprise I guess.

Anyhoo, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow my only plans are to unpack, work on my paper for school, and pull out the stuff I need for school. I somehow picked up a cold my last day in Cairo and it is making me miserable. And I did take some fun pictures to document my last night in Egypt but I'm going to go crash and hopefully start the healing process of getting over this cold before I put up any pictures.

I am so glad to be home!!! Though I really do miss Cairo now...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bye Bye Cairo!

LEAVING!!! I gotta go find a cab....Then several hours spent traveling back to home sweet home! I learned a lot here, met some great people, and will miss being here. More to come once I'm back in the States!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Literally, where has my time gone?

I cannot believe this is my last night in the apartment. I'm going to miss this place, it has been a great host home.
And I had planned out many more cultural posts, but I think they will have to wait for once I get home. What I really need to do is to sort through all my pictures and get them organized. There are folders in my pictures file, folders on my desktop...and they don't really make much sense. Anyway, here are a few pictures from the past two days spent with friends!

I went out to this restaurant to eat a very Egyptian meal. And I got to hang out with Nashaat and Nancy. :)
This place gave us so much to eat...and it was really delicious. I ordered one of my favorite foods here, which is like a green leaf soup. I have absolutely no idea on how to spell it, but it's something like, Mollahoya.

Then as we dropped Nashaat off at his church Nancy and I had to stop and take pictures of the Fig trees. 
                                                                ...We had fun, haha!
Then today after work today I met up with my friend Heidi and this awesome guy, Mena, and we drove to a huge market downtown.
Playing around while waiting to get into the parking lot.
 Figures my camera would focus on the air freshener instead of us, what a bummer.
The market was super packed, I got bumped into quite a few times. But it was totally worth it because they sell everything there. Spices, jewelry, galabias, you name it and it's probably there.
There's more, but alas, once again it is late and I am very sleepy. I've got one suitcase completely packed and the other one is half-way there, so I think I am doing pretty well. Much better than coming here, where I packed everything the night before and accidentally left my camera charger sitting in the wall plug. Big oops. My goal is to have as much done as possible before dinner, so I can just chill and take my time enjoying the last little bit of craziness that is Cairo. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What a blast!

The past few days have been utterly fantastic here in Egypt. It seems like right when I am starting to hit my stride here, that's when I have to leave. Figures.

So basically my last day of "work" is tomorrow, and then I am taking the morning off on Tuesday to go see the Pyramids (Crossing my fingers this happens, my plans have fallen through every time besides the one time in June). I won't really work on Tuesday, but I want to say bye to everyone and take pictures. Plus I think I'm going to bring in some Basbusa. It's only right. Man it's going to be weird to not hear that name being called all the time.

Ok, last but not least, some pictures from my day on the sea!
Shading my head from the sun. It was so relaxing in the water, I could've stayed in all day.

One of the fish we later ate. 


YUM! The food was so delicious. And fish so freshly caught tastes amazing. Everyone should try it at least once, make sure it's on your bucket list!

And we eventually had to leave the boat, but I got one last picture in front of the Red Sea. 
Right after this we all stopped in a restaurant and bought desert. :) Then we split up to make the journey home. And it definitely was a journey, my car got all kinds of turned around. We (Aka Mounir and Sharon, I was half asleep and hunkered down in my seat) eventually figured out the signs and got back on track to get us home safe and sound. This was definitely one of the highlights of my summer.