{ Sunday, October 30, 2011 }
Yesterday I went to Citystars, a very big shopping mall in Nasr City, to meet up with my Egyptian friend D.
I had to take the taxi since it's about 30min from where I live. I don't like to take taxi's on my own because you never know how the driver is going to act, if he's going to try to hit on you or charge you too much. It's so exhausting really. The driver of the taxi I took to get there pretended to try to avoid traffic jams by driving me around and around while the meter was running. That was nothing in comparison to the taxidriver who drove me back though. His meter was obviously tampered with, because it charged me 15 pounds more than the normal price!
I gave him 5 pounds more than the normal price, which I already thought was very generous, but he wasn't satisfied yet. He came after me when I got out, and screamed "give me my money! give me my money!" I answered back in my best Egyptian and told him that no way I was going to pay so much and that I wasn't stupid. After lots of screaming he finally told me "imshi!imshi!" and got back in his cab. The thing that annoyed me the most was that he acted like it was my fault entirely, and that I just refused to pay! He really got on my nerves, and confirmed why I don't like to take taxi's. I'm sure he knew very well that he was charging me way too much!

Apart from that I had a nice time. I don't see my friend a lot, because she lives on the other side of Cairo, so it was nice to catch up. We went to the movies, and afterwards she helped me pick a gift for my fiance. I also bought new shoes, although I noticed I don't seem to have a size in Egypt lol. 40 is a bit too small and 41 is too big! It's really frustrating. We also talked about our future plans and just life in general and it was very nice :) I really like Citystars, although the stores there are rather expensive. But you just have everything in one place, which is very handy!

Six days until my fiance will come, and it feels like eternity!

Fatimid Cairo

{ Saturday, October 29, 2011 }

The thing about Egypt

{ }
I just had a week of exams, and I really feel I overcame some of my limits. I had to do two presentations, one in Egyptian Arabic, and one in Fusha, and I only had one day each to write them and learn them by heart. I realized how spoiled I have been in my university in Belgium, when we were complaining about only having 3 weeks to do a presentation! The course is definitely more intensive here, and I'm curious to know how my results are. We don't even have vacation right now, and straight after the last exam they gave us homework for Sunday :-/ We will have vacation next week inshaAllah, for Eid. 

My parents will arrive on 3 November to visit me for a week, and I'm looking forward to it. I want to show them around, and it will be nice to have my family around.
My fiance got his visa alhamdullilah and today he will book his flight. He will stay for 3 weeks inshaAllah, and I really really can't wait. He will be here around the same time my parents are, so it's an excellent ocassion for them to meet, and to really get to know each other. My parents have a very negative view about Saudi (and not without reason I might add) so I hope that meeting him will help them to generalise less.

I don't think I could live in Egypt forever. There is no such thing as a quiet morning walk to school. The cars horn just for the fun of it, and it really gets on my nerves so much. They drive inches from your feet, and you have to climb, instead of walk on the sidewalk. In some areas people look at you like you are an alien, just because you're not Egyptian. Men keep saying "welcome to Egypt, what's your name?" while I've been here for over 2 months. The air is really polluted, and I would never walk around with my small children here. I miss the hygiene and quality of Belgian food. 
I know I'm ranting. I'm sure that Egypt is a really nice place for some people, mainly those without sensitive nerves. I'm also lucky that I still live in a relatively quiet neighborhood. I don't want to sound like a snob, but I really don't like to go to wust al-balad (Downtown Cairo). It's not that I can't handle seeing poverty, it's the constant noise, the constant remarks and looks from men, the smell of benzine on and near the bridges. It's just too much for me. 
The good thing about Egypt is that the stores are open much later than I'm used to. I can still do the groceries at 11 pm, which in the beginning felt really odd to me, since most stores in Belgium close at maximum 8 pm. In my next posts, I want to talk more about my experiences here in Egypt, my impressions, and I'll try to be more objective ;-)


{ Tuesday, October 18, 2011 }
I really want to write more - in fact, I'm dying to write more, but I'm just so busy! I have exams next week, with only the weekend to study for them, and I need to hand in a big paper and do a big presentation. I'm really not good with stress, and I don't know how I will handle the pressure! 

I guess my stay abroad is not how I expected it to be. I'm struggling to find the value in the experiences I go through here. I'm sure there are lessons for me to learn from all this, but I really wonder what the point is of suffering? Am I suffering because I don't concentrate enough on the divine, or am I suffering because it's God's will? A very hard question, I know. I've often tasted loneliness, and I'm just wondering when it will stop. I'm wondering when someone will take me in his/her arms and tell me it's over now, and everything was just a bad dream. I keep telling myself that love comes from within, but humans are not meant to be alone. We thrive when we are appreciated and cared for and I feel like I'm trying to survive in the desert. Why are people so indifferent? Why am I so sensitive? I guess it can all come down to the ancient question: why are we alive? 

There is one thing that could lighten up my stay, and that is if my fiance will get his visa so he can come and visit me. Normally it shouldn't be hard, but I just have this feeling that I'm jinxed or something and that everything in my life is supposed to go bad.

Some thoughts and future plans

{ Saturday, October 8, 2011 }
I think the most important lesson in my life at the moment is to give myself enough love, appreciation and respect, regardless of how others act towards me. I don't seem to really connect with a lot of people, and often I feel like an outcast. Then I read articles that say it's a good thing to be an outsider, because they will often achieve great things. Then I wonder, which great things am I achieving? None really, although we all have to start with the small things in life. I like to be on my own, but I also like company. Not chitchatting with acquaintances, but rather meaningful talks and discussions with close friends. I hate receptions and parties where you constantly have to think of what to say and to reply. It wears me out. Unfortunately my life is filled with thinking of what to say at the moment.
I'm starting to let go too though. It's ok if I never fit in with this group or if I never have a lot of friends. When I'm back in Belgium, I might take some courses on how to be more assertive, but I'm starting to accept and appreciate that I'm not made to be the center of attention. I have my own thoughts, and that is a blessing too. I've been so busy trying to please in the past, that I forgot myself and what I want in life. If anything, I hope my stay abroad can at least give me some clarity on what I want to do with my life. At this moment I feel I want to be a teacher in primary school, and encourage my young students to grow and to be confident of themselves. Next to that I want to make the world a better place for animals. I want to do something for them, although I don't know the details yet. Finally, I also want to be a writer. I really want to be a writer.
Preferably, I want to live in the country, where I can hear the birds singing every morning and watch the seasons change. Sitting outside with some candlelight during warm summernights, drinking tea and having deep and fulfilling conversations with my husband or friends. Taking long walks in the forest during autumn, feeling the wind blow in my face and smelling the perfect scent of the forest. Playing in the snow with my children during winter and afterwards making hot chocolate and watching a beautiful movie. Laying in the garden during spring and watching the flowers grow, having picnics, drinking selfmade lemonade.
I know, I know, how idealistic can you be? But that's just how I am, I don't want to be satifsfied with an apartment in the city, a stressful job and falling asleep in front of the tv at night.

Then there is the matter of trust. My life can look so grim at times, and then I forget that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I believe in God, why is it so hard to trust Him? Why I can't let go of my worries and negative thoughts and just have faith? Maybe life is not looking pretty great at the moment, but there is always something to enjoy, even if it's just the taste of ice cream or the smile on a child's face. I need to have faith and let go of how I think my life should be. I can work for my dreams, but in the end, it's all in God's hands. Maybe I can struggle against His will, thinking I know better what I need, but of course I don't. I think we need to take our disappointments as a sign that something better is coming along. There is always something better on the way, with overt or hidden blessings in it.

Have a wonderful day x


{ Wednesday, October 5, 2011 }
I just realised that I have completely neglected this blog, as well as the private one. It's just so busy here! I have tons of homework and when I'm finished with that, I'm either on skype talking to my loved ones, or being a zombie in front of the TV. I also feel like I've completely lost inspiration, and don't know which topics to discuss. I'm planning on updating my private blog more regularly, making it more like a diary. I feel a bit weary about doing that here because I don't know who will read it.

I have this strong feeling that I want to start writing on a story. I need to write! But I don't know where to find the time or the inspiration. I so want to be a writer, filling my time with writing stories and columns. I'm sure I'm not the only one however, and a story is not going to write itself, unless I get a flash of inspiration in the train (or more like taxi in my case) like what happened to JK Rowling.

I'm practising Islam again. If I focus solely on the spiritual side, like prayer, listening to Quran, and dhikr, I'm doing fine. It's just that when I get into some problematic issues like polygamy or women's rights that it starts to get tricky. But in the end, I don't think anyone can really know what the Prophet (pbuh) would say or do if he lived today, and not in the 7th Century. Maybe some aspects of Islam would look different, I don't know. I don't believe that every rule in Islam was supposed to be universal and for all times, but that's just my opinion. It's possible that if the Prophet lived today, he wouldn't have married more than one wife or allowed polygamy, who knows.

I've decided I will write my thesis paper about islamic feminism in Egypt. Of course I still need to limit my subject a bit, but that's for later lol.

Much love,

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