I'm having a difficult time trying to remind myself that this is not a vacation, and that I actually have homework to do and classes to go to. And when you're going to Alexandria for a weekend getaway, a Nile cruise the week after that, surrounded by palm trees and a completely clear sky in 80-90 degree weather... it's not an easy task.
My schedule is as follows:
Sundays & Mondays
Intermediate Arabic 8:30 (ugh) - 9:35
Arabic of the News Media 11:00-12:05
Art & Architecture of Ancient Egypt 2:30-3:30
Mondays & Thursdays
Intermediate Arabic 8:30-9:35
Classical Arabic Literature 2:30-3:30
I'm still trying to beg a professor to let me into an anthropology class about languages and their form and function across cultures, so hopefully by tomorrow I'll have a fifth class and won't be killed by the brutal lady in charge of add/drop registration. This schedule is actually tentative and only for Ramadan - the Islamic month of fasting in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured from dawn until sunset. So not only do we have a different class schedule during Ramadan, but stores/businesses have different hours, meaning you cannot possibly get anything done when you want it done. On the subject of coffeehouses and nightclubs, my fellow Arab students earnestly say with a wink, "Once Ramadan is over, I'll take you to all the great places in the city." It's like they're all talking about a speak-easy during Prohibition. I'm half-expecting all of Cairo to completely transform overnight after September 22nd (Eid al-Fatr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan when Muslims party it up after their month of fasting) and turn into a city-wide rave or something. It will definitely be an interesting experience to see the city shake off its spiritual slumber and awaken once again.
As far as the classes are so far, Arabic is kicking me in the face but I'm definitely not going to go down a level so that it'll be too easy for me. I'm very excited for my art & architecture class - we have (free!) scheduled field trips every two weeks or so to Cairo museum, back to Giza again, Saqqara, Dashur, and more.
Campus is intriguing. Besides being relatively small enough to navigate and fountains everywhere the eye can see, the Arab students literally just stand around most of the morning/afternoon to just... talk. It's like they don't have anywhere else to be or classes to go to, though they're all carrying bags or books. From 8:30 to 3:00, there are massive hoards of people just chilling out in various places along the open campus, neglecting to let other people who actually have things to do pass by. The library is the worst - apparently nobody goes there to actually work or utilize the resources there. Guys go there to chat up girls and ask what their plans are for the following night. Really? The library? That's my sacred place. I don't want it violated with flirtation and obnoxiously loud hums of conversation and giggles echoing across the stacks and periodicals section.