Can You Hear That?

One of the perks of being an International Studies major is the ability to study in another country for a semester-long or summer session. Students in this major like this overseas trip because it gives them an opportunity to learn and interact with other people and their culture in their environment while still earning credits towards graduation back home. On the other hand, students have some “romantic” notions about living in another countries because they still have not outgrown Hollywood fantasies.

Fortunately I am not one of those students who harbor such notions about other countries even though I do admit that there are some pleasant places that I do like to go and spend sometime in. I have been thinking about spending a semester in Cairo, Egypt for a while now, not because I have romantic ideas about Egypt but rather it is a place that I can relate to a “little” bit in terms of culture and closeness to my native home. It also helps that I have friends and distant family members living there. Plus I’m learning Arabic and what place is better than that? Yes, Damascus is also an excellent choice too.

But back to Cairo. The other day I read this article in the New York TImes that talks about a recent scientific study of “noisiest” cities in the world and Cairo was the unparalleled champion of the noisiest city in the world at 85 decimals on an average day – that is, as the study suggests, a jackhammer at full power running 3 feet away from a human being from 7am to 10pm at night. Seriously. Yet this is only an “average” day. I wonder what an above average day sounds like in Cairo. Perhaps two jackhammers? 

It certainly did not help that I watched “The Yacoubian Building” over the weekend either. In this 2007 drama based on the same titled book shows modern Egypt as a Nazi-like Germany where the government knows everything about you, the police torture people for fun, including raping as an “enhanced” technique and men are sleazy, woman-groping machismos. Maybe I need to consider my options carefully before I regret. Australia is always beautiful, so is the sandy beaches of Dominican Republic. 

Categories: Africa Related, Education, School/Students, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Can You Hear That?

  1. Hey Om, how’ve you been?!

    How very cool that you’ve watched The Yacoubian Building! I just watched it last week and found that it exposed the corrupt and heavy handed practices of the police and secret service. As someone who’s been to Egypt several times, I can confirm the noise pollution. I always have ringing in the ears for weeks when I come back.

    Let me tell you this, though: there is nothing and nowhere like Egypt. You have to go at least once. The sights, sounds, people, places, history, culture. Forget Australia and Dominican republic. Go to Cairo and sit at the cafe that Alex Haley used to sit and mingle with a few of the delightful 18 million living in that city.

  2. FOC

    I’d undoubtedly go to Australia :), because I hate noise and pollution, which cairo seems to have in abundance.

    However, I guess you should weigh your choices, do prefer to be in a culturally rich country or do you just want to have fun? 😀

  3. Om

    Aya, long time no see! I’m good and you? How’s the marathon training going? Have you already participated?

    Thank you so much for the advise and I agree Egypt is truly a unique place. I’m still weighing my options…just so you know, I have no intention of going to DR; I thought I’d just joke about it:-) I’m praying every piece falls into the right place so I don’t have to make a wrong decision in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


    Since my trip is for studying, it would not be a good idea for me to go to a “holiday” destination like Australia but then again, one of my requirement is that I have to study my courses in English (Cairo has American University) so I may end up going to Australia if my university doesn’t have an exchange program with schools in the Middle East.

  4. Howdy Om,

    Studying abroad, how exciting! All three countries are fab (do they have an english-taught university in the Dominican Rep?) but I would second Aya. Egypt will probably provide a more meatier and contrasting experience for you. Australia, although undoubtedly fab, is a a little too similar to the states.

    Hope everything is well with you!



  5. Pingback: Global Voices Online » On Somalis in the new Kenyan cabinet

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