The Atlantic Ocean is really big. An eleven hour plane ride will drive that point home repeatedly, especially if you’re trying to fall asleep in coach. The aerial view of Egypt is exactly how you’d expect it to be, a flat blanket of sand.

Cairo, on the other hand, is a whole different story. Looking at Egypt on the map, you see a pretty sizeable country. But everyone lives along the Nile, and mainly in the northern half. Picture trying to squeeze 80 million people in a space about the size of Delaware, and you have the real Egypt.

Living here has got its amazing perks. First of all, it is consistently about 70 degrees this time of year. Also, Egyptians have great sarcastic humor and are really friendly.

I am living right on the Nile. The sights around the river are fantastic. Living in Zamalek (the borough in Cairo with most of the foreign embassies) gives me the opportunity to take advantage of the upscale parts of the city, while still living in the center of this ridiculous metropolis.

Not everything is great. The streets are filthy here, and if you venture away from the protected area in Zamalek where I’m living you can see a lot of poverty. Girls who are obviously foreign will receive a lot of attention from Egyptian men, mostly harmless, sometimes funny one man told me that I look like Catherine Zeta-Jones but always present.

Being in Egypt has opened my eyes to many new experiences: I saw a man riding in a cart being pulled by a donkey, while playing with his cell phone. Bargaining with a taxi driver in a foreign language is a terrible experience, but going across the city for $4 makes up for it.

Lastly, I highly recommend rioting in the streets after your sports team wins something. There’s a lot of satisfaction that can be had when yelling, dancing and setting off fireworks. Believe me, I’ve got videos.

Melegy is a member of the class of 2011.

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