As-salaam alaykum, brothers!
I’ve been in Cairo for almost 8 weeks now, and I can honestly say that every day is a new adventure. Brother Kat Staggers and I are living together in an apartment that’s just a short walk away from AUC with a few of our fellow international students. Since over 20 million people live in Cairo, a lot of the city is residential developments. Our campus is about 35km outside of Cairo proper, so it’s a more suburban area with lots of malls, which is one of the Egyptians favorite ways to spend their time. It’s very safe here, and the people are so friendly and helpful with anything you could need. We even have Uber! I have to say, the traffic here is like something out of a very stressful nightmare, but the Egyptians like to think of it as organized chaos. I’m sure this comes with the territory of a city with 20+ million inhabitants, but there are absolutely no rules, road lines don’t matter, and there’s an entire language of car horn honks. I particularly love the markets in Cairo, where you can find anything from knockoff Gucci slides to fresh hibiscus for tea, and they’re a perfect combination of tourist attraction and local entertainment.
So far, we’ve only had the chance to travel within Egypt, but there’s so much to see! My favorite trip was with Brother Alex Jackson to our neighboring governate, Fayoum, where the Wadi El Rayan national park is located. It’s comprised of two lakes with sandy beaches and an amazing waterfall. There were a ton of people enjoying boat rides, sandsurfing, and playing drums and dancing on the beaches. Nothing can compare to the Pyramids, though, which are absolutely a must-see if you ever get the chance to visit Egypt. The conspiracy theories and nagging camel men really add to the experience, and it all can be observed from a two-story Pizza Hut just across the street, although the local digs are obviously much preferred. Koshary, ta’ameya, and shisha have stolen my heart.
The campus is the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen (sorry, DMSB). The grounds are completely tiled, the buildings all have unique Islamic-style architecture, and we have hundreds of orange, grapefruit, and palm trees at our disposal to enjoy some fresh fruit by the fountains. Classes are just as hard as the in the States and attendance is no joke, but Kat and I really enjoy our International Security class, taught by a former diplomat and Arab League member with UN members and diplomats as our classmates. I’m also taking an art and architecture course which has allowed me to visit beautiful mosques and sites all around the city, and the Islamic art is absolutely stunning. Egyptians truly have an eye for beauty, and it’s evident in their people, art, and culture. The culture is very laid back, diverse, and accepting, and the Egyptians also have a great sense of humor, which is a great relief when I’m struggling with Arabic.
As I’m writing this letter, Kat and I just said goodbye to Alumna Allie Thompson, who visited Cairo from her Peace Corps post in Uganda with her mom and sister this week. I never thought I’d be catching up with with an old friend while looking out upon the Pyramids, but here we are! I honestly never thought I’d be doing half of the things that I do on a day-to-day basis in Egypt, but it’s not without the encouragement, support, and love from my friends, family, and of course, my brothers! As a piece of advice, to anyone considering studying abroad, step out of your comfort zone and choose an experience that will truly open your eyes to the world. AUC is an amazing school for anyone regardless of your language proficiency, and such a unique, challenging, and fascinating place to spend 5 short months of your life. I would love to see all of your shining faces via FaceTime, so feel free to reach out!
Ma’a salama, habibis!
SOU Bros Abroad
This blog serves to highlight the experiences and tips that Brothers studying abroad have.