Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to Campus: Egyptian Style

The semester has started. Classes are in full swing. I am teaching three classes this semester which feels like a lot. I am teaching a class in Principles of Public Administration, one on Governance, Stakeholders and Accountability, and a final management class that will tackle themes of urbanization and the environment. This semester should be challenging, but interesting.

The students are back on campus. There seem to me more of them. Perhaps that is because so many students pulled out during the Revolution. Another difference in Egyptian education is that there are far fewer private colleges than in the US. This also helps to keep attendance levels at public universities high. This is particularly the case because private universities such as American University in Cairo are incredibly expensive by Egyptian standards. Additionally, there are less opportunities for students to attend online college courses such as the ones on this site that offer accredited college degrees accredited college degrees for distance learning students.

There is going to be a student strike today at American University in Cairo to protest rising tuition. As a result, when I took the bus in this morning, all the gates were blocked. The bus had to go around the "Back 40" of the campus to drop us off. The strike starts at Assembly Hour, or in about forty minutes. We will see what it is like.

The students look similar too, but not identical too American college students. First of all, they wear more clothes. Many of the girls here do wear jeans, and tight ones at that, however, you will never see an exposed belly button, or even exposed shoulders. Oh, there is a lot of status to what you wear. We have a lot of Louis Vouitton and Coach bags in evidence, and many hijab that say Chanel or Gucci. We have no Nekabi, but many girls "cover" or wear hijab. Some of them will wear long sleeves, and high necks as well, which, it goes without saying, is hot.

It seems that all Egyptians smoke, and in fact, they smoke in the cafeteria. Not very appetizing in my opinion. In terms of styles, Egyptian male students love t-shirts. I saw one t-shirt that said fiscally Republican, socially Democrat, sexually liberated . . . . I have seen a t-shirt about Voltaire, and more than one about Jimmy Hendrix. On the ladies, long hair is preferred, and most young women wear their hair long. It is quite unusual to see short hair. Most girls have black or brown hair. Some of it is curly, some of it is straight, and some of it is in corkscrew curls. One occasionally sees a young lady with blonde or light colored hair, although that is the exception. The young men wear their hair short. They often have their hair with a peak in the middle, like a modified, mellow mohawk. Sometimes you will see a big 70 style picked out Afro, because many Egyptians are Africans, with hair to match. Occasionally you will see someone who we Black Americans call a "Redbone." Lots of freckles, and bright red hair.

For breakfast this morning I tried a traditional student breakfast of fuull and eggs, which is fava beans and a boiled egg in a pita. Very affordable, and pretty tasty. The fava beans are boiled until soft, and are a staple food in Egypt. 6 pounds or 1 dollar. I will have to try it again, and step away from my expat lifestyle.


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