Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Life in Mohandiseen

Mohandiseen, the area of Cairo where I live, is nice but it doesn't have much of a neighborhood feel to it. As a result I must confess I find myself sequestered in my apartment a little more than I probably should. It doesn't help that I have high speed broadband and satellite TV with over 500 channels.

Egypt is really very overwhelming. I never felt this culturally inundated when in London, and it might just be a bad memory but I don't think it was like this when I was living in Italy either. There's something just so totally foreign about living here. It's not just a language thing -- I feel like the way that people actually think here is different as well. I often find it very hard to figure out what people are thinking or feeling here...people's facial expressions seem a little more opaque. Time behaves differently here as well. The different weekend (which begins on Thursday evening) really throws you off; at this point I almost never know what day of the week it is unless I check my computer or my cell phone.

I've gone back to the cool neighborhood that I mentioned in an earlier post and had a somewhat surreal experience, running into some very nice Egyptians, sharing a few teas and playing a game of backgammon. In most conversations if there's someone who knows even a little bit of English they're going to know a lot more of my language than I will know theirs. Kind of frustrating but so long as I focus on conversations as an opportunity to connect and communicate rather than a chance to show off my 133t Arabic skills, then I can just swallow my pride and speak in English when necessary.

I'd better get to sleep. I've been staying up way too late these past few days and this can't be good for my participation in Arabic the next morning.


Cairogal said...

Great blog...having done the TESOL cert course (not in Cairo) myself, I can relate to how exhausting the course can be. Trying to finish the MEd TESOL now ("damndissertation" is one word in our house). As for life in Cairo, well, you sound like you're managing. It does take a while, but the culture shock will subside. Even after two years, I had was I referred to as "cairo moments" in which my frustration would come to a point. Some days I loved it, other days I hated it. One thing's for sure: there's never a dull moment. Keep posted photos. I'm studying classical Arabic back this way, so I'm enjoying your snippets of it in the posts!

theinquiringmind said...

I am planning on attending AUC this fall in the TEFL program. I really don't know anyone whose ever been there; needless to say, while I'm excited to be going, I'm also just a bit nervous. I'm trying to get some idea of what living in Cairo is like. I 've been looking at as many chatrooms and blogs as I can, but one thing I never seem to see mentioned is what it costs to rent an apartment in the city.

I am looking to rent an apartment in the downtown area near the school. Could you give me some idea what rents in this area are like? Any pitfalls I should watch out for when renting a place?