Saturday, 28 October 2006

Contemplating being a graduate…

Ramadan is finally over, and with it I simultaneously give a sigh of both relief and disappointment. Relief because finally all the iftars and sohoors and extra prayers and tiredness and frantic pace of life can finally come to a halt, and disappointment because they’ve stopped. It’s a dichotomy of sorts—when Ramadan comes you’re so busy and tired all the time you start to fondly think of Eid, but once it’s over you look back on it and start anticipating it coming again the following year.

For the first time in years, I spent my Eid in Cairo, and was able to enjoy having semi-crowd-less streets as the majority of the population has hightailed it out of Cairo for a few days or are hanging around in parks and on the 6th of October bridge (yes, you read that right). It never fails to amaze me how “the bridge” has become an outing in and of itself, with families packing sandwiches and bringing chairs with them to sit overlooking the Nile. I was on a Nile cruise not too long ago and no less than 30 people waved at us from their chairs as we passed underneath the bridge.

But I digress. So back to the main point of this entry—thinking about graduation. A couple of weeks ago I had to go fill in an alumni form and settle outstanding fees, and it hit me while I was standing in line that this is it: I’m finally a Graduating Senior.For the first time in a long time, I’ve had some free time—actually almost a whole week— to think and meditate over my life and where I’m going. I calculated how many days I have left for the end of the semester, and it turns out they’re only 47, and only 35 if you exclude the weekends. So that’s it, only 35 more days of attending classes and I’m done.

What am I going to do afterwards? It’s a scary thought, after all there’s nothing else I “have” to do, any more studies I decide to pursue will be purely supplementary, and not at all a necessity. Will I take some time off or will I start pursuing a Masters degree? If I get started right away then I’ll be finished with it at 21. Or shall I start working instead? If so, where am I going to apply first? And what field in particular should I pursue?

Questions, questions, questions, with no easy answers. There’s once thing I do know though—and that will be that I will be sad to bid AUC goodbye. I may have had my ups and downs, I may have hated it and loved it, but for better or worse, I’ve learned a lot in my four years here, and I can’t even imagine what my life will be like without AUC. For the past four years I’ve spent the better part of my life here; what will I do without my morning sandwich from Cilantro and my daily fights with Hamdy? (the valet who parks my car)

So where will my path lead next? Only time will tell.

Until next time,
Salam Alaykum,
Ethar El-Katatney

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Drum roll please…I’m back!

Salam Alaykum (Peace be upon you)

Well, I haven’t exactly been the most faithful blogger, since it’s been over three months since I last wrote (wow, has it really been that long?), but I promise to make it up!

My summer this year was pretty hectic. I traveled to Dubai (for shopping lol), Mecca & Medina (in Saudi Arabia for ‘umra’—the lesser pilgrimage), Alexandria (for the sea!), Copenhagen & Arhus (in Denmark for a conference), and finally to Birmingham & London (in England for a summer training program).

I traveled to England for approximately a month for a summer training program with Amr Khaled, the well known Muslim TV preacher. We camped in Gilwill Park, and Lake District, and I got a chance to do things I’d never done before (e.g. sleep in tents, wash dishes etc). We dormed in Solihull College in Birmingham for 2 weeks, where we had trainings every other day like how to manage your time, how to be a leader etc. The funny thing about the camp is that Amr Khaled then made a TV program about it that airs on El-Mehwar (a satellite channel), every day in Ramadan right after iftar (so around 6:30pm), and he chose 5 of the 100 camp participants to come on every day to talk about that day’s episode. 4 guys, 1 girl. Guess who the girl was? Yours truly. So every day I’m on TV, and I’ve realized that 1000’s of people watch the show (random people stop me on campus to ask “are you the girl on the show?;” I speak way too fast; and that I really should have slept the night we filmed because I look soooooo tired on film.

But moving on, what else have I done since I started university? Oh, I joined the YALDA conference at the very beginning of the semester (Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development), and it was a very interesting experience. I got to go see the pyramids, which I’ve only been once to when I was in second grade

I’m also now editor-in-chief of Dimensions, which is definitely no easy job. I swear I’ve been spending more time working on it than I have on my courses, which isn’t really good because I’m graduating this semester and can’t really afford to have my GPA drop. Nevertheless, it’s an extremely rewarding job, we’ve managed to develop the paper so much and have doubled our crew. Today is a landmark event in the history of Dimensions—it’s the first time we’ve EVER produced two issues in two consecutive weeks, and we’re hoping to finally become a weekly newspaper rather than a biweekly one. And inshallah (God willing) we will be! Here’s a picture of (some) of my lovely crew having iftar in Bon Appetit (the only good restaurant close to AUC. I have eaten so many chicken barbecue sandwiches I’m going to sprout wings soon lol).

Now I have to go assign the stories for the next issue!
Until next time,
Salam Alaykum,