29 August 2010

In which we sweat and sail

I spent most of my day on Wednesday looking at things like this.

Or the backs of airplane seats.  So actually getting to Egypt was quite exciting, and not just because it broke the monotony.

After landing in Cairo, getting to the terminal (planes land on the tarmac and buses take passengers to customs/baggage areas), collecting bags (they came in waves), and breezing through customs, we (me and about 35 other AUC students) got in minibuses and headed into the city.  Cairo traffic is as bad as I was warned it would be, but I've learned that if I look out the window and not out the windshield, it isn't as worrying.  In the next few weeks, I'll tell you all about the driving/traffic customs I've experienced, both as passenger and pedestrian.

I was assigned a room in the Zamalek residence about halfway up its 10 story square.  Two wings are assigned to women, two to men.  The window of my room looks out onto the courtyard in the middle of the building, which is a very pleasant view.  My roommate (whose stuff was present, though she was not, when I arrived) is a Journalism major at IU (which my father has forgiven, as the IU Journalism program is fantastic) and will be studying here for a year.  The room is quite large, as you can see, with tile floors and an air conditioner, my new best friend.

Our sheets and towels are provided, and we are required to use the complimentary cleaning service twice a week, for sanitary purposes.  Once we use it, I'll let you know how it goes.

The other first day (night) activities included walking around the neighborhood to get cell phones (I'm using a new SIM card in my old international phone from my trip to Europe four years ago), change money, and make a grocery run.  I think one of the best things to do in a new city is to visit a grocery store.  This one was of the omni-mart variety, so in three floors it had not only food, but kitchenware, dishes, toys, electronics and all sorts of other things.  American imports are more expensive - cereal, Jif peanut butter, Nutella, shampoo - but most things have local equivalents.  We were warned, though, to spring the extra dollar for the fancy peanut butter.  I'm used to boxed milk, which is occasionally available here, but the huge stacks of eggs sitting out are a little disconcerting.  I'm not sure how they manage that, but it must be okay, because I've since seen it in other stores.

These are the faluccas we rode on the Nile
I've now made this post longer than I intended for it to be, but upcoming posts include geography, first impressions of AUC, and stories of the Falucca (small boat) ride two nights ago, and the Nile cruise we're taking tomorrow.  Let me know how I'm doing on the level of detail, and what else you'd like to hear about.


  1. Just so you know, local eggs (as in, ones not produced in huge factory farms like we have here in America) are perfectly safe to eat when they've been kept out, so long as they are cooked. My family never refrigerates their eggs (we get ours from a local farm) and have never had problems. It's only an issue when thousands of chickens are living in their own feces/other dead chickens that salmonella and other diseases become a problem.

  2. I love the pictures Sarah! The level of detail is great :) Do you have a mailing address that we are allowed to use?

  3. I love your first impressions and agree with Sophie about the pics. When is your first class?

  4. I like this blog post. More please.

  5. Grandma and GrandpaAugust 30, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Glad you are safely there. Looking forward to hearing all about your adventure.