Friday, 26 May 2006

1 final, 2 projects, 3 papers to go!!

I slept for 16 hours last night…which I guess is excusable considering I’ve been living on less than 4 hours sleep for the past week or so, going to uni at 8 am and only leaving when they kick me out of the lab/ library. And now I’m almost done!! I’m actually supposed to be working on a paper now, but I need a break so I’m going to justify not working for a bit by writing (even though I need to return some books to the library asap since I’m being charged 4 LE for every hour they’re late hehe)

Yesterday was the last day of classes, and it’s a huge burden off my shoulders to now have a couple of days to focus solely on my projects and papers. As a business senior, we usually don’t have finals, but instead have big huge projects that we’re supposed to work on all semester and (typically) don’t start until the last week or so of classes. For example, on Wednesday was our presentation for one of our marketing courses, and Dr. Hegazy assigns 20% of our grade to it, and is well-known for the fact that he focuses more on the presentation than on the paper. So we focused on it and haven’t yet finished the paper. Ours was on Mega ice-cream, so we actually created an ad for it (which was pretty great considering it was my first time using Windows Movie Maker hehe); made a huge Mega ice-cream bar out of Styrofoam; bought stands and posters to hang up; and actually handed out free ice-creams. Needless to say, we got the best grade in the class Here’s a picture of us standing next to our huge ice-cream (No idea what I’m going to do with it now though):

Now all we have to do left is to actually finish writing up the project…only there’s just so much to do I don’t know where to begin. You know when you have so much to do that you think you’re never going to finish it so you keep delaying starting? Yeah, I do that a lot; I escape to the roof upstairs at night and stare up at the sky, searching fruitlessly for stars, which we rarely see because of the pollution. But the lack of studying isn’t always my fault though! For example, I was trying to study at home last week for once, and just by luck there was a huge wedding underneath my window!! I live on the 9th floor, but still! My room overlooks this deserted street, and so sometimes a bunch of people come, set up some chairs and fairy lights, bring a DJ and have a wedding. Crazy I know, and I got so mad because who can study the difference between a floating ad and a shoshkele in all that noise?? Anyway, moving on…

We had a sit in on campus yesterday in support of the independence of the judiciary, and even though a lot of people just showed up to laugh at us (idiots who probably had no idea what it was for anyway), I got the impression that a lot of people supported our cause. A lot of us actually put tape over our mouths to symbolize our silence and disapproval, which I thought was a great idea.

There’s a lot of stuff that’s happening in Egypt now, and stuff a lot of people aren’t happy about. I’m just glad that people are actually starting to do something to express their displeasure, even though what we can do is limited. Even though we didn’t number over a 100 people, and had a silent protest on campus, there were still three police vans outside. There’s a campaign going on now to free Ahmed El Droubi, who’s an AUCian who was arrested in a sit in protest also in support of the independence of the judiciary and has been in jail for over a month now. He’s been arrested on charges of “assembly, assaulting public functionaries, disseminating allegations that disturb public order, and obstructing a street without permission,” and for three women who are also being detained with the same charges (

But on to cheerier topics…I got another interview for an internship, this time at American Chambers, and I got accepted into both summer courses…Only question is, what should I choose? I think I’ll copy Scarlett O’Hara in this matter, and “I’ll think about it tomorrow”
I went to Fayoum last weekend with my Veiling class to present our research papers, and it was beautiful. We stayed at our professor’s villa, and seriously, the greenery and the beautiful view took my breath way. I guess it pays to be an AUC professor hehe. We also visited a pottery school, and I bought a cute teapot for my grandma…

Ok, so enough procrastination, back to studying for me I just can’t wait for Sunday, I’ll be done with everything by then and can finally take a break, go back to facebook stalking (lol), emailing my friend Rocío in NY who I haven’t emailed in aggggggggges, reading, watching movies and having nothing to do!!!!!

Salam Alaykum (Peace be upon you)

Monday, 15 May 2006

10 days to go and counting…

Life is funny sometimes. You get up, go to university, do your work, go to sleep and repeat. Every day I keep telling myself that I just need to get this week done, and then I can finally “start” living. And then suddenly it hits you that this is your life, and that every day that passes is one you’re never going to get back; so what are you doing with it?

I’m in a philosophical mood today, so forgive me if I meander off into unrelated tangents. I’ve just been listening to Amr Khaled (one of the most celebrated Muslim Preachers–I’m sure he needs no introduction) and his words always have a profound effect on me. They make me sit up and think—what am I doing with my life? Am I really doing all that I could and am I really using all my God-given skills and capabilities to the best of my ability? Thoughts to ponder while I’m stuck in traffic for over an hour because the president has (as usual) blocked all the streets because he’s going somewhere…

Last week was the showing of our play, and it would be an underestimation to say that it was a resounding success. The theatre was so crowded people were sitting on the floor and in the aisles; I was doing my monologue (in a purple beret!) with people sitting not half a meter away from me. It was so crowded that people even requested an extra showing at the end of the semester. It was a wonderful experience, I made great friends, and I’m proud of what I did—even though we received a lot of criticism for talking about sensitive issues. But my defense was, and still is—that these things happen to real women in Egypt. 97% of them are circumcised, the majority get harassed and sexually assaulted, and we can’t assume that by covering our eyes to them they’ll magically disappear. So yeah, I think it was a meaningful experience, and it will make people think about what really happens even in our “high class” society, and tell them about things they thought didn’t exist amongst them. Or as the narrator put it: “Ignorance is not entirely dependent on education…isolation is independent of location, and…neither is dependent on social classification.”

I went for an interview in the American Embassy for a Marketing and Website assistant internship, and they called me up today to say I got the job. The only thing is, I went for an exam at Procter and Gamble (P&G) a while ago along with 67 other students (I only know the exact figure because I had a reporter write a story about it for Dimensions hehe); and I was one of the 22 who passed. Those who pass are going to be interviewed for summer internships, and I have to admit that that would be my dream internship. Only thing is I have to respond to the American Embassy offer by Thursday, because that job starts 1/6 and ends 31/8, while the P&G one starts 1/7 and ends 31/8. So I can pass up the American Embassy offer and then not get the P&G one, which means I’ll have wasted the opportunity for a job this summer, since that’s the only interview I’ve gotten so far; or I can accept the American Embassy job and then kick myself if I get the P&G job. Decisions decisions…

I’m going to think it over, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to pass up on the American Embassy job. Because even if I don’t get the P & G job, I still have two other great options for the summer; they’re both opportunities to study Islam abroad in more depth during the summer—one is in England with Amr Khaled, and one is in Yemen with Habib Ali El Jifri. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if I get accepted in either one. Hopefully (in sha2 Allah), I’ll get accepted in at least one of them!

So that’s the update on the job/ summer plans scenario. And as for holiday plans, I’m planning on holding a huge dish party as soon as the exams are over for all my girlfriends to celebrate the end (yes!!) of the academic year. I’m also traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umra (the lesser pilgrimage) and to Dubai for some shopping hehe. Ooh that reminds me, I need to buy some dresses when I’m there because two of my friends are getting married (!!) this June. I’m so happy for them—only not so much when we’re trying to work on a project which is due this Saturday (*swallows audibly*) and one of them is sitting writing her invitation list. I mean, advertising and promotion management is more important than a wedding right?

So what about university? Well, the semester is winding down (only 10 days to go Ahhhhhh!), which means sleepless nights spent working on projects we’ve been assigned all semester but only just started working on a while ago, are right around the corner. I have a project that requires interviews with a company that’s two HOURS away from my house, one that requires us to create a big ice-cream out of foam (as it’s worth 20% of our grade and we need to do something that grabs the professor’s attention), and one which hasn’t even been assigned to us yet! Plus the two final papers from my Arabic studies course. The (not so) funny thing is that I still haven’t chosen a topic for my Veiling class and on Saturday I have to do my presentation on it. In Fayoum no less, which is a city about an hour outside of Cairo—our professor decided she wanted to give us a “trip” during the busiest week of the semester. Go figure.

Hmmm, what else? Oh, we had an employment fair on Friday, which was the biggest one ever held on campus—over 107 companies were present. I’ve never seen the Main Campus so crowded; there was literally hundreds and hundred of people. Each company had gone all out—each booth was really decked out and very well organized. Kudos to the CAPS office.
I had to go to cover the event for Dimensions even though I wasn’t a graduating senior, and I came out of it with quite a few freebies hehe. But seriously, it’s a great opportunity to find jobs, make contacts, see what kind of jobs are out there, and find out what fields you’d like to go into and are best suited for.

And speaking of Dimensions, can I just mention (again) how much I love ♥ my ex editor in chief Mona? We seriously underappreciated how much work she had to go through. And now as a columnist, reporter, English editor, production editor, and acting editor-in-chief, I sympathize with her a whole lot more. I’ve had to learn how to use Quark and Adobe Photoshop in literally two days, and quickly get to know everyone who’s anyone who has the slightest thing to do with Dimensions. I’m still glad I got this experience though; at least now I know how much work I have ahead of me next semester (that’s if I get the job of course!). I should be getting starting on my plan, especially since of course I have so much free time :)

Any other important news? Oh, how could I forget to mention that Seif Abou Zeid won the elections and will now be the new Student Union president? He won with an unprecedented margin of 448 votes, which I have to say, is amazing—last year’s candidate (whom I’m still waiting for his column in Dimensions by the way!!) only won by less than 40 votes. And I have to admit that campaigning was a lot more civilized this semester, with campaigners doing a better job of explaining the candidate’s plans than in saying “Vote for #2/#3, he’s my friend/ friend of my friend!”

Ok, I can’t believe I’ve just spent almost two hours writing this, and I still have soooooo much to do. It’s gotten to the point where I barely have enough time to brush my hair—and can you believe I still haven’t gotten around to buying black ink for my printer?! I’ve been printing everything in color; even the CV I took to my interview was printed in dark blue—I’m glad they didn’t notice I haven’t gone to the movies in weeks (and I’d really wanted to see Memoirs of a Geisha before it was removed from the cinemas), and I miss eating Shanghai Wings at Chilis with my friends

But I hope it all pays off. I guess I can say that my life is pretty full, and I hope I continue to do my best in everything I do. I’ve even applied for the Student Awards Ceremony (SAC) next week. It’s a competition for those who have a GPA of over 3.0 and are in a lot of activities. The winning seniors get cash prizes which are deducted from their tuition. So who knows?
Anyway, it’s almost 10pm now, and I have to be at uni at 8am, so I better go start working while I still have some time. Make du’a (supplication) for me that I get through these last 10 days unscathed, and wish me lots of luck!

All the best, and Salam Alaykum (Peace be Upon You)

PS: This may be seen as really random, but the emergency law was just renewed in Egypt for another two years. My feelings about it? No comment

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Je suis trés fatigué…

In other words: I’m very tired. This week has been a blur of rehearsals, meetings, and the all-time consuming production of Dimensions. Our editor-in-chief resigned and guess who ended up taking on her work? Yours truly. It’s funny because I’m planning on running for the position next semester since as a gradating senior I don’t really have a lot of difficult courses to take, but the sheer amount of work it takes is truly staggering. Calling up editors to get the articles, dealing with the print shop, production and layout of the newspaper, organizing distribution, and dealing with members who don’t show up doesn’t even begin to cover how much work we have to do. It’s hard, but in a good way. At least I’m still thinking of running next semester .

Only 21 days to go until semester is over, but seriously they are the most hectic three weeks in the entire semester. I’ll just give you a brief snapshot of how much we have going on just next week. For one, starting next Sunday is the much-anticipated election week for next year’s Student Union President, and campus is soon to be littered with flyers and campaigners following you around asking you “Did you vote? Did you vote? Did you vote?” It can be a nuisance sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) but it’s still amazing how people get so fired up about campaigning and how hard they work at it.

Next week is also the opening of the play I’m in. It’s a play “based on true stories from women in our community,” and is kind of a mini-version of the Vagina Monologues (albeit a bit tamer). It’s hosted by the Bussy club, which literally means “Look,” (I know, the name stumps me too) and aims at improving the condition of women in Egypt. It also wants to raise awareness about issues which are serious, real and ignored in our society. What I like about this play is the fact that it’s adressing issues that happen in Egypt and people like to pretend don’t exisit. It’s the old “see no evil” thing. So hopefully people will show up and it’ll help create awareness on campus. Now if only I can get my lines learnt!

Registration is also starting next week, and FINALLY I get to register first, since at AUC we register according to our class—so graduating seniors go first, then seniors and so on. Our registration system is one of the big big problems all students face. It’s great that it’s online system now, but it’s horrible how every semester I wake up at 6 am to register and I still encounter the same problems:

1) So many people are trying to log on so the page won’t load.
2) The system keeps telling you “The session for your log in has expired” when you try to click on hyperlinks.
3) You finally get to the course you want and it’s either:
b. Scheduled at the same time as another course you MUST take
c. Cancelled. With a professor that everyone says is horrible

So we have to wait until drop and add period in the next semester, sitting next to our computers all day long with the requisite cup of coffee refreshing the screen every 10 seconds or so, just on the off chance that someone may decide to drop a course you need. So yeah, one of the not so pleasant aspects at AUC.

Next week we also have Employment fair—which is a big event hosted by the CAPS office and is attended by a lot of companies from all over Egypt. It’s a good opportunity to find out what jobs are out there and which fields have the most demand. There’s also a book fair (yay!) which I’m really looking forward to because I love books. Diwan (really amazing bookstore/café in Mohandessin) is actually one of my favorite places to go—I’ve had so many loyalty cards I’ve lost count. And the AUC bookstore cashiers know me by name So I’ll admit I’ve always been a bookworm (trés uncool I know) and I usually spend a lot of my money on books. But they’re actually pretty expensive compared to prices abroad, so I buy a lot of books from Amazon, only I still end up paying shipping costs so it’s still expensive, but not as much as here. In fact, I just received a shipment yesterday and spent a couple of hours reading “Jihad vs. McWorld” rather than studying. *sheepish smile*

That reminds me; I’m thinking of applying for a course called “American and Arab Identities in tension” which takes place in Cyprus during the summer. But I need to find out more about it asap because it could conflict with my internship timings. It’s actually a political science course which I don’t need for my major, but it’s a great opportunity and I know people who went last year and really enjoyed it. In any case, it’ll get counted as an elective so no worries…

And all that of course is just on top of project meetings, papers, presentations, a visit to a service factory for a course, an exam I’m taking in order to apply for an internship at Procter and Gamble during the summer and all the usual classes and lectures. Plus all the routine errands like buying ink for my printer and going to take pictures of the gym we’re doing a project on in a marketing course. They may sound mundane, but they actually need a lot of time because Egypt is so crowded it takes ages to get anywhere.

Today is the Closing Ceremony for the Help Club—and it’s one of the biggest events on campus all year. It’s one of the main ways we collect donations for our activities; last year we collected almost quarter of a million Egyptian pounds. So it’s pretty exciting and always a lot of fun. So I better go see what needs to be done and if anyone needs any help.

Until next time!
All the best, and Salam Alaykym (Peace by Upon you),