The National Society of Collegiate Scholars is an honors society I was invited to join last year, and I figured I'd take a gamble on it and join to see if I could get a scholarship to support my travels abroad this year. Well, it paid off: I am their choice for their Scholar Abroad Spring 2010 Scholarship!
It's quite an honor, and I didn't exactly feel confident about being chosen when I applied, but figured I should try and the application was free for members so why not? This is great, because it takes some financial strain off my family (especially with my dad's hospitalization earlier this month), and will allow me to have some extra cash after that to travel within Egypt (hellooo Luxor and Aswan!) as well as invest in my dance career while I am in the position to do so. The fact is that here in Egypt there is a wealth of opportunity and I am young and unrestrained enough to tap it, but the problem was that I didn't have a lot of extra cash before. We will have yet to see what this scholarship brings within reach by paying off the rest of my AUC tuition and then some, but I will keep you guys posted.
Part of the requirements to recipients is that we keep a blog over at wordpress. I plan to copy and paste a lot of my entries over there from here, but feel free to also check NicoleInCairo.Wordpress.com too. I will post here if there's extra content or different things over there, but I believe I will continue to keep Nicole In Cairo on Blogspot as my main blog. This will be the more dance-focused version too, and I expect it will be quite a bit more introspective than the other blog which will be public to the NSCS community of scholars.
On that note, it's almost time to return to AUC in just a few short days, and I'm having very mixed feelings about it. There's a lot to get done this semester, and before I leave Egypt in July/August, and I am so sad that my time is going to be hacked into so much by AUC. The fact that it's out in the desert with infrequent bus service just kills when you're dying to feel like you are in Egypt, but are in fact stuck on campus with a bunch of rich Egyptians dying to be American, and a bunch of Americans immersed in academia. Not only that but this week will also involve visiting various offices to get my visa and bus pass sorted out, which one would think should be easy but I'm sure will be an hours-long endeavor. Not really an authentic cultural experience, but I will be spending all day in it instead of out and about in Cairo, the city I love dearly. This semester I am seriously making a commitment to myself to be off-campus and out on the town with my Egyptian and American friends as much as possible, speaking as much Arabic as possible and taking a bare minimum of classes so that my time isn't cut into. Honestly I don't care if I get Bs this semester as long as I come out satisfied with the time I spent here.
The fact of the matter is these last couple weeks that I have been just fooling around sewing dance costumes, hanging out, and dancing all the time have been some of the coolest I've spent here. The other day we had a dozen people at my apartment, all practicing salsa dance, and then we would take a break and be practicing our Arabic and translating songs, finding out things like the Islamic equivalent to "cross your heart" and things like that. That kind of thing is cultural exchange at it's finest, my friends, just hanging out in a group that comprised Egyptians, Americans, Brits, and a Malaysian dancing, chatting, and working on language. I feel like I can't give that up for the world, but AUC is going to draw me back into academia again with the attractiveness of learning new things and increasing my knowledge. This is certainly pleasant as well, but nothing beats just hanging out with my group of friends here and the feeling I get from seeing people come together.
Also I wanted to say sorry everyone for lack of pictures: I'm just one of those people who is horrible at documenting the moment until it is done, prefers to live things as they happen, and doesn't feel comfortable branding myself as more of a foreigner than I already am. I must get over it, because stuff keeps happening that I know for sure I'll want pictures of later!