Thursday, February 24, 2005

A new semester

I just realized how long it's been since I've posted.  I've noticed that I have a tendency to write when I'm upset over something, which no doubt has led some people to believe that I'm a miserable and depressed person.  That certainly doesn't feel like the case lately--I swear it must be the weather.  The sun is coming out, Spring is on it's away, and everything has taken on a whole new color.  I feel hopeful and happy, and am painfully aware that I only have four months left here. 

I've finished two of my papers from last semester, and have only two more to go.  Second semester has begun, and I am determined to throw myself into my work--Hebrew especially.  I am only taking Hebrew, Arabic, and two classes this semester, Modern Christian Spirituality and Christian Mysticism, so I'm hoping to have more time to study my languages.  I have to pass the Hebrew exemption exam at the end of this semester, and my prospects are pretty gloomy.  We'll see.

As far as non-academic stuff goes, Bernd has come into town for a month, which of course makes me very happy.  Last night the whole neighborhood was over at Luise's place, drinking Hungarian liquor and talking too loudly.  It's been a long time since we've hung out like that; we were all a bit like hermits last semester.  Spring must be affecting us all.  Last Saturday I ditched my work to go to the beach with Luise and Famke and Rotem and Shimmy, and it was a perfect day.  On the way back we stopped at Abu Gosh for Hummus--apparently the best Hummus in Israel--and I even managed to finish my paper that night.  Things are settling back into normalcy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In Cairo

I have tried over and over again to update this site here in Egypt, but this is the first Internet Cafe that has let me onto the page! I apologize to those of you out there (read: my parents) who have been worried and wondering whether I am dead or alive.

I am alive, feeling more and more so actually--I was pretty sick the first few days I was here, as a German Girl Who Shall Remain Nameless (Luise) gave me a cold to take with me to Egypt to remind me of her. I have managed, however, to have a fantastic time.

How to explain Egypt? Others have tried before, and done better than I possibly could. Parts of it remind me of India--the crowds, the constant horn-honking, the annoying vendors, the smells and colors, the hassle, the exotic nature of it all. But at the same time, it's much more accessible, much more modern in a way. So you have this fairly modern world set up against this ancient, incredible background, a crazy juxtaposition.

We rented horses to go and see the pyramids, and our guide rode us way out into the desert and through a hole in the fence to get in...the result being we paid no entry fees, except into his pocket, which I'm okay with really. We were trotting and cantering towards these great enormous structures that I've seen so often on books, and I was of course having one of my this is my life moments, only it was so cold and windy when the sun went behind the clouds that I actually managed to be in the present rather than removing myself to make my usual mental comments. We went inside the second pyramid, crouching down low all the way into the hot, airless interior, and I found myself frighteningly aware of how many thousands of tons of rock were layered above me, and suddenly trying to remember how often Egypt has earthquakes. Enia kindly remarked that if the pyramids have stood for 4500 years, they most likely were not going to collapse then, but I was not to be comforted. Unforgettable to go in, but a huge relief to get back out again.

After Cairo we took a night train down to Aswan, where we spent the day perusing the Nubian Museun, then drifting about on a Felluca on the Nile while the sun set. It was nice for a change of pace, especially since our next stop was Luxor (ancient Thebes), which has more sights than it is possible to see in weeks, let alone two days. We saw the amazing, enormous temple of Karnak, and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, full of wall paintings that were still in vivid color, showing Ramses being accepted into the afterlife by Osiris, or the goddess Nut among the books of the day and night. It was way too much to take in, and I am full and thick and happy.

Now we're back in Cairo, and tomorrow it's back to Jerusalem. I'm excited to get back, am a bit homesick. Soon I will post a million pictures, I promise.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Grandma e-mailed me just to find out if I'm still alive; apparently it's time for an update.  Yes, I'm alive, still here, just on vacation.  The scores are in: I passed my Hebrew exam, and managed an A in Arabic, so I am pleased.  I would be resting easy if I didn't have four papers due, easier still if one of them weren't on a subject I don't understand at all.  I keep thinking: this will all be over in a month.  The papers will be in, and a new, fresh semester beginning.  I'll do better this time.  This is what I tell myself.