Friday, September 21, 2012

Thoughts After a Month

It's almost been a month since I've moved my whole life to Cairo. There's no question, I miss my family and friends a lot, but this experience was one of the greatest decisions I've ever made. Yes Cairo may seem a little volatile at times, with protests at the American Embassy, but it's a great time to be living in Egypt.

So far I love it all. If you know me, you know I can complain about anything. I definitely have my complaints, like I would anywhere in the world. So let's start with the hardest things to adapt to:
  1. My biggest complaint is definitely the air quality. The air on campus is clean, but it's also in the middle of the desert. In my defensive, I also run. So the air quality is definitely an issue for me. They say living in Cairo is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
  2. This is a very male dominated society, and I knew it would be before I moved here. Excluding school and the dorms, I really don't interact with Egyptian women on the streets. If you decided to take a stroll on the sidewalk against the Nile at 9:00pm, you'll notice that about 95% of the people on the streets are men. This isn't really a problem, but it can be a bit intimidating when you're a woman walking around the street at night. 
  3. Everyone smokes cigarettes! Well at least all the men, (and like I said above) that's about everyone on the streets. Cigarettes are very cheap here compared to the US. I remember when I was a kid in Florida adults could smoke in restaurants, but that was just a memory. Here you can basically smoke anywhere (it's the exact same way in China). I always forget that one of the coffee spots on Zamalek allow smoking. Every time I walk in, I'm hit with a cloud of smoke!
(Disclaimer: While these things may make it a little harder to adapt, they are in no way 'deal breakers'. Crime is not a major issue here, the cost of living is amazingly cheap, and there is never an issue with finding amazing things to get yourself into.)
 So now that I'm done complaining, I can tell you what I really love about Cairo. I really won't be able to articulate how amazing this city really is. I could never really do it any justice. It's definitely a city you need to experience, not read about. It's the noise, it's the smells, and it's the people.

  1. One of the greatest things about Cairo is the never ending amount of cool stuff to see. So you have day to waste in Cairo, what do you do? You could go to the biggest mall in all of Africa, you could go to the Pyramids, take a felucca down the Nile, or anything else this city has to offer. I am constantly stopping to remember where I am. Last night we celebrated a friends birthday on a boat on the Nile. 
  2. The people are awesome. Egyptians have an amazing sense of humor. Don't get me wrong, I've definitely crossed paths with some assholes and almost got into it with some chick at the grocery store, but people are people. Places around the world are known for their peoples demeanor, and the people here are pretty awesome. They love to joke around and talk trash, so you know I'm getting to know everyone. 
  3. Things are pretty cheap here. Now I'm a little reserved to say everything, because that's definitely not true about American products. For example, a bag of Tide (laundry detergent) in Cairo can cost you $25. Yes, twenty-five dollars! The Egyptian equivalent is much cheaper, but if you want specific brands you're going to pay for it. I also live on an island that caters to a specific demographic, so if you go to markets outside Zamalek you'll pay much less. There's a falafel places that sells one falafel for 2 Egyptian Pounds (EGP). The exchange rate is the following: one dollar gets you 6 EGP. So that's about .34 cents for food, and it's really good. Depending where you go, a bottle of water can cost you .30 cents. You just need to know where to go. I'm constantly surprised how far my money will go here.  
 Now you've read some of my likes and dislikes. There isn't a city in the world without the good and the bad. It's all about how you can adapt to it. Straight up, some people may not be able to handle everything Cairo throws at you, but this girl has no problem. It's a city where you must be tough with people so they don't rip you off, a city where men dominate every aspect of society, and where social unrest can result in a protest any day. With all that said, Cairo is an amazing city and it already feels like home.

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