The here being Cairo, Egypt, and the now being a month in the summer of 2015.
On the 24th of July I packed my duffel and stepped onto a plane bound across the Atlantic. A day, many time zones, and a few layovers later, I wobbled off another plane and stepped into Cairo. I might have been a little worse for wear, but my bag and I both made it, so there wasn’t much more I could ask for.
Why Cairo? A large part of choosing Egypt was the fact that American University wouldn’t let me go. They shuttered their study abroad program here citing security concerns and there is no indication that they will be reopening it anytime soon. Throughout the entirety of the 20+ countries in the Middle East and North Africa, my options for studying Arabic were then Morocco, Jordan, Palestine/Israel, and the U.A.E. Therefore, it makes more sense for me to not take a semester abroad, but go independently when I can.
Cairo is an attractive option for a number of reasons. It has been a destination for tourists and students alike for centuries as a major city with a rich history dating back 4000 years. It has a strong public transportation system, and is connected enough to allow travel to other locations in the country like Alexandria and Luxor. As a student, it also helps that the dialect of Arabic spoken here is easily understood throughout the Arabic-speaking world.
Why now? The now is a little less concrete. First, the opportunity presented itself so I jumped at it. Second, the country has changed rulers three times in the past few years after nearly 40 years of rule under a single man. The lack of stability has produced protests, riots, and scattered terrorist attacks. However, the past year and a half have seemed a little more stable, and I’d rather be able to say I took the chance when I could if that doesn’t stay true.
At the end of the day, here I am! For the next four weeks I’ll fill my time with a class in Modern Standard Arabic and exploring the city. I’ll post here at least once a week and on Instagram when I can get a clear shot off. Feel free to email me or comment below; I’ll stay in touch.
The image for this post is the view flying into Cairo right after sunset. The blurry picture doesn’t do it justice, but the rainbow horizon with networks of lights below and a few stars above was absolutely stunning. Not a bad way to start the trip at all.