Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First ALI tour of Cairo

Well, my life has settled down a bit now that classes have begun in earnest. On Saturday morning, I took a bus tour of Cairo, which really served to iterate the fact that Cairo is huge! Parts of it are so overpopulated, and yet there are numerous building that were just never finished, especially in the Giza area. No one exactly explained why this is, but it was rather eerie to drive past neighborhood after neighborhood of crumbling building. It looked more like a war zone then a residential area. Many of these areas in Giza were built atop fertile land, so they only aggrevate the lack of arable land in Cairo, although now there is a rule in place that protects fertile land, a little too late, in my opinion. Of course, there are also palatial mansions and luxury high rises interspersed in various suburbs throughout Cairo; Mubarek, the 'venerable' leader of Egypt, has a very chic estate, from what I could see at the fringe. The above picture is the memorial to Sadat. Some of the older cemetaries, stretching for acres with family tombs and grand monuments, have been recycled into homes for the living, which must be a very moribund existence, sleeping among the graves of hundreds of deceased people. I'm not going to lecture too much about the history of Cairo, but it is fascinating to see all of its facets. Anyway, my weekend ends on Sunday, which still takes a little getting used to. Currently, I am taking Fusha, or Modern Standard Arabic (basically alot of grammar and vocab); Arabic News and Media, where we read articles, listen to the radio, and watch television programs ; Ameea, which is colloquial Egyptian Arabic, not a separate language, but a distant cousin (for instance the hard Q sound in MSA becomes a short A sound, and many of the words are entirely transmuted); Arabic writing, in which I learn the nuances of more grammar and better writing styles; and finally, probably spoken Fusha, to complete my 15 credits of classes. Actually, with the last class, I will be physically in class 24 hours a week, plus those fun hours of homework every night. For instance, today, Tuesday, I have class from 9:30 to 3:30 without any breaks in between, and, although most days aren't this bad, I can say I definitely look forward to the weekend. Anyway, I am now considering joining the scuba team at the AUC, especially since I now beginners are welcome and there are frequent trips to the Red Sea!

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