About My Blog

I Spent six weeks in Egypt before spending a year in Germany. This blog covers the best summer of my life. If you are looking for my posts while I was in Germany ask me, and I'll be happy to share them but I have been asked not to share them publicly. Feel free to visit my brothers blog of his year in Germany or my new blog

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Tomorrow I leave for Cairo, Egypt. This will be my first time on the African continent and I could not be more excited. I was given this opportunity by the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute as a scholarship to study in Cairo at the International Language Institute with fourteen other students. We will be living in Cairo for five weeks or about 40 days. While there we will be studying Arabic, Egyptian history, Middle Eastern Literature, while also travelling and seeing several sites.

Before learning about this program I had never even thought about studying Arabic and I still cannot believe that I will be learning a new language with a completely foreign alphabet and to an extent pronunciation. The Arabic alphabet has been tedious to learn but I am managing to identify all of the characters in all of their forms with their names, and I'm working on their sounds. This experience is almost surreal because I feel as though I've gone back to kindergarten and I'm learning the alphabet again but this time I'm old enough to understand that my attempts at writing the letter "9ayn", while they look perfect to me, would be ridiculed by an Egyptian first grader, just as my "w" would have been ridiculed by first graders when I first learned the English alphabet. I hope to advance quickly though and it is my hope that by the time I come back from Egypt to feel equal to those seemingly mighty Egyptian first graders.

Other than feeling belittled by the immensity of the new language, I have had very few worries about this trip. I'm used to the long flights (this one will be 12 hours), meeting new people, trying foreign food, being in a place where I understand nothing, and being somewhere where nobody understands me. The largest of my worries? Sunburn. Those of you who know me well enough know that my albino white skin does not tan but rather it burns. I have three shades: White, Freckled, and Tomato. Hopefully Egypt, SPF 50 sunblock, limited time in the sun, and some awareness of my skin will help me find that nice freckled shade or maybe even a new "tan" shade. But we'll have to wait on that one. The other factor of the sun and heat is water, which is easy enough to come by but will be harder to remember that I actually have to drink more than I feel that I have to. Well I'm leaving my "hot and humid" 85 degree room in Pittsburgh for the "hot but dry" room in Cairo and I can honestly say that I'm nervous to see how I react to consistent 110 degree days.


Heidi said...

Thanks for opening the blog. Hope you will be able to continue the good work.

Heidi said...

Hope you have a good flight and a good start into this new adventure!

karen said...

From another albino/freckle/burner, good luck! Don't relent on the sunblock (that new tan shade? Won't happen...), become fond of hats, and check the local bazaars for gauzy, long sleeved white shirts. Also, drink plenty of water even if you don't think you're thirsty (I have to remind myself in AZ and Vegas; I'm sure it's the same in the Egyptian desert!).

I am envious of your learning Arabic - it will be a challenge but with great rewards. I'm looking forward to reading about your travels!