Friday, June 5, 2009

Countdown Continues

It's 4 days now before I hop on a plane to Portland, then Frankfurt, then Cairo. I've gone through all kinds of emotions over the past weeks, and am now reaching the point of just wanting to be there already! I've gone back and forth from disbelief, to fear, to excitement, to depression and lethargy, to happiness--it's already an emotional roller coaster and I haven't even left the country!

The Emotional Stuff:
I don't feel this all-over-the-place emotional state is uncommon for college students when we leave to study abroad, especially when we take the time to trek back to our home towns before we jet off across the globe. It's a big transition, because before the extreme stress of finals has time to wear off we get booted out of our comfy campus homes and networks of friends that we've settled into and shipped right back on to the next place. Speaking for women from my college, it is exhausting for us. Our finals are rough, and those of us who are preparing to leave the country during them don't exactly do ourselves a favor by celebrating and partying like crazy with people we won't see for a long time. I may be speaking just for myself though!

In any case, I think the best thing to do in weird transitional times is to spend time with family as well as being alone. Especially before a lengthy study abroad, because we won't get to see our parents for a long time! Being alone is also important before going through a life-changing experience too, because it gives one time to reflect on who you are. I find myself too often soaking up other people's personalities and tastes, which is fun and not necessarily bad, but taking the time to go back to myself and strip away the rest is something I find necessary before a big move or transition.

Footsteps to Follow:
I recently posted on (my favorite belly dance networking and costume-buying site!), shamelessly promoting this blog and asking for Cairo advice. I got a couple interesting and informative responses back from some lovely dancers, which I'm very grateful for. You can view their responses by clicking the link above, but two ladies in particular I want to talk about:

Outi of Cairo responded to me with a link to her website. There are some great articles on her website which cover a variety of topics from food to fashion and even what happens in the recording studio. She's an engaging writer and I'm not ashamed to say I hungrily read all of these articles in one sitting!

Zulaika, a dancer based out of the Seattle area (my hometown!) also contacted me and generously offered up her own advice too. She has had some awesome experiences living and visting in Cairo, where she studied Arabic earlier this year, which you can read about on her blog. Her blog gives you a snapshot of what Cairo life is like for international students, something I really engaged with and enjoyed reading! We've been emailing back and forth and she said this about dressing in Cairo, which I wanted to share since people are curious about the topic:

"I did wear a scarf a lot because I am blond and it kept my hair clean. I did get treated with more respect even if I just tossed it loosely over my head. If you wear jeans, wear a top or sweater long enough to cover your crotch. I even wore long skirts and jumpers and sleeves at least 3/4 length. What is acceptable to wear on campus, or on the street, or in the nightclub can vary greatly as you will see. It also varies on who you are with- other females or guys. If you hear a strange sucking sound- you are being "whistled" at by Egyptian men (usually the young ones), but that and comments are usually the only hassle you have to deal with. If it bothers you, dress more conservatively."

Thanks, Bhuz ladies and everyone else who has been contacting me with advice and phone numbers of helpful people! I'm so blessed to be part of such a giving community!

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