Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Cairo!

August 12, 2013 marked my one year anniversary of living in Egypt straight, albeit I've been here off and on since summer 2011. It's been quite a year, both for myself and for Egypt. What have I learned?

  1. Stick by your opinions and convictions, no matter how unpopular they are (as are all of mine). But make sure you are willing and able to listen to others, understand their point of view, and accept that you could be wrong. If they afford you the same respect, good. If they don't, maleesh. There is nothing you can do about it. 
  2. Make the assumption nothing you are told is true, whether you hear it from the news or a friend or someone else. The media is probably wrong, s/he is probably lying, and nothing will be given to you for the "Egyptian" price. 
  3. At the same time, you have to trust people when you are alone in a foreign country. People are mostly good and you can't do everything yourself. 
  4. Girls need girlfriends. 
  5. When push comes to shove, when shit hits the fan, it's my people at home on whom I rely. 
  6. Egyptians don't answer emails, and Americans don't like the phone. Miscommunication will happen.
  7. There will be days, even weeks, when all you want to do is go home, hug your cat, and have your mom take care of you. You'll hate your adopted home. But that feeling will eventually pass, and that's when the good stuff happens. 
  8. The good stuff is amazing and makes putting up with the shit more than worth it. 
  9. There are about five liberals in Egypt and Bassem Youssef's island is quickly depopulating. 
  10. Things were not that good in the good old days, no matter what anyone tells you. 
  11. Balancing "foreign" and "local" values and expectations when dating will give you an aneurysm. 
  12. You have to let verbal harassment roll off your shoulders. Despite how disrespectful and disgraceful it is, escalating the situation leads to physical harassment. No shabaab's ignorance is worth the consequences that could follow. 
  13. Americans can't talk about Egyptian politics because we "don't know shit," but be prepared for Egyptians to give you an earful about American politics. 
  14. Always say yes--yes, I want to take this trip that I wouldn't normally go on. Yes, I want to go to this club that I usually wouldn't visit. Be up for anything.
  15. Doing things the conventional way is overrated. 
  16. Egypt and Egyptians are at the same time very hospitable and very hostile. I haven't yet figured that out. 
  17. It's not okay to cross Constitution Avenue like you would Gameat El Dawal.
  18. Get a smartphone. Your ghetto khwaga phone will not suffice. 

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