This blog has been created to share the College of Staten Island (CSI) students’ experiences around the world. Dolphins across the Seven Seas provides the opportunity for CSI students, staff, faculty and beyond to gain insight into the study abroad experience. Additionally, Study Abroad Peer Advisors provide reflections upon their experiences as well as advice to potential study abroad participants. CSI is the single senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), located in the borough of Staten Island.

Friday, October 12, 2012

"If you drank from the Nile, you will return." ~Lena Abdelhamid, Cairo, Egypt

Being an Egyptian American student, I always wanted to find ways to become closer to my culture. Whether it was being friends with Egyptians in the states or visiting Egypt during the summer, I took any opportunity to find a way to stay close to my heritage. However, summers and making a handful of Egyptian friends was never enough.  After taking an Arabic course that the College of Staten Island offered, I became excited to discover more ways to truly feel Egyptian and keep working on making myself more culturally aware. I came across AMIDEAST through Queens College and knew this was the program that would give me the chance to see Egypt. It was a chance to visit places I have never visited, be closer with family members I unfortunately only saw very briefly during vacations, and most importantly, make a home in Egypt.

Taking three intensive Arabic courses, an Arab Spring Course and a Development in the Middle East and Northern Africa course, I became more aware of all current events going on during my stay. I learned in depth things about the revolution that happened in 2011 and that the news in the states would never teach students. It was such a raw experience witnessing Egyptians protest in streets together after Friday prayer to fight for their freedom and make history. Being there to witness history being made and watching the full election process until their new President was elected was an honorable experience. It was a moment where I felt Egyptian.
I made some of my closest friends on this trip that I plan to keep in my life forever. As they discovered new things and places with me, it made my trip to Egypt more memorable. Having summer experiences with family helping me get places or speak to people in Arabic to buy something or just being on a beach was keeping me away from having a memorable experience. Being there for the full semester, my friends and I discovered new things daily. I built courage to go out and explore and get a sense of what it was like to feel Egyptian. My American friends embraced the culture, and loved trying new foods or going to new places which made me admire their effort and courage to explore a place they were unfamiliar with, too. They all had amazing moments meeting Egyptians and being in this country at this crazy time.  Now, we talk about how we all want to go back for summer vacations because of how amazing our experiences were. This place now holds a part of us that we all want to experience. Another experience I was blessed to have was being in touch with family more often. I was able to stregthen older bonds and make new ones, which was amazing. 
There is a saying in Arabic that translates to, “if you drank from the Nile, you will return.” And I feel like that is destined for us all for our different reasons. The country is truly an amazing place, with so much to explore and so much to see. People once thought this place was all sand and the pyramids, but once you leave, you learn that as a city that literally never sleeps, there is so much beauty behind the chaos. Being a part of this program was life-changing. I couldn’t have chosen a better time, place, and people to do this program with.