Erica in Cairo

Erica is a junior majoring in art history in Meadows School of the Arts and international studies in Dedman College, with a minor in Italian. She also is a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar. In fall 2010, Erica will be taking classes in Egyptology and Middle Eastern studies at the American University in Cairo with SMU-in-Cairo. She hopes to learn as much Arabic as possible while traveling throughout the region.

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Day one in Cairo!

Whew! What a whirlwind!

DSC00019.jpg As I write this, I am finally lying on my bed in beautiful Zamalek, Cairo. The only downfall is that the room smells. However, after a significant amount of time with both the window open (hot, hot, hot!), and the air conditioning on full blast, I think I may have freshened up the place a little! Aside from the stink, the room is quite amazing. It’s huge, because three of us live here – though neither of my roommates has arrived yet – and very well laid out. Each of us has her own desk and ample closet space. (In photos: My room and view from dorm.)

cairo1.jpgAll of my flights were easy and quick – though unfortunately I didn’t sleep at all! On my first flight, from Minneapolis to Chicago, I sat next to a boy visiting from France. On my flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, I originally had all three seats to myself, but the boy sitting across the aisle ended up moving to sit by me. He’s studying abroad in Russia this semester, and we played games for the better part of seven hours. On my last flight, from Frankfurt to Cairo, I sat next to a really interesting girl from Luxembourg, who speaks about a thousand languages.

The only thing that surprised me about the trip was the airports! Frankfurt – which I would have expected to be orderly and neat in the usual German style – was a wreck! Aside from the construction, the “departures” screen often only displays your terminal, not your gate. Each terminal has its own wing; there is a line down the middle, and then terminals branching off in straight lines like veins in a leaf.

However, every so often a terminal’s security is divided in two. Thus, if all you know is that you are in terminal C, and gates C1-C30 have a different security line than C30-C60, and you go through the wrong one…sorry, Jack. My ticket said B25, so after maneuvering through construction and crowds of all sorts, I made it, only to be told B62 was my gate. B62 was in the basement, so to speak. Basically, it was a mess.

DSC00013.jpg The Cairo airport (photo, right), on the other hand, which I had expected to be frenzied, was beautiful – open, clean and practically empty. The man who picked us up was hilarious, always addressing us as if we were his little chickens and he was our impatient mother. “Yalla! Let’s go!” Followed by a melodious and perpetual, “AUC! AUC!”

After a bus ride that would have impressed circus performers (which is the act where a thousand people tumble out of a car? Ours was a thousand suitcases), we were able to relax in Zamalek for several hours. At 8:30 p.m. we all went to get phones and then dinner. (Ramadan made the late hour necessary.)

It’s been such an adventure already!

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