It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we adapt to something new.  As much as my generation complains that people resist change, put any single person in a new environment and watch him not only survive, but thrive.  The first few days after I arrived, as much as I tried to blend in, I looked blatantly foreign.  My social skills stuck out as my white skin and grey eyes.  Yet here I am, just barely two weeks in and I am already learning to be street smart, how to use good manners, how I should or should not dress, etc.  All of these sound simple enough on paper, but can only be achieved through trial and error, and lots and lots of practice.  I am finally starting to adapt.  It seems to be much easier to cross the intensely crowded streets, to look like I at least know where I am going, to order things in restaurants, and to give the correct responses to certain cultural phrases.

Typical bread cart in the streets

At a semi-private beach called Agemy Beach

Even the sounds of life in this city no longer sound so foreign to my ear.  My ways of thinking are shifting and even tuning my ear to the sounds of danger, joy, and daily music of life passing by in the streets.  The latter is something I already love a great deal.  There is something quite distinct in the rhythm of the way Egyptians call out to sell their goods (e.g. watermelons, various assortments of nuts, grilled corn on the cob, pottery, bread, etc.), warn you with a short beep of the horn (as opposed to a long beep, which means you are holding up traffic or there is significant danger), or even the flirtatious comments and cat-calling to any woman on the street.  All of this is becoming very normal.  And so quickly!  I know the streets of this city to a very limited extent, and I am looking forward to knowing my way around a little more every day.

A stray cat making a meal of someone's leftovers...he was later chased out.

Fresh mango juice, the best thing in the world

As strange as it may sound, I rather prefer this “lack” of comfort that comes from living outside the United States; the bed I first thought hard, I now consider perfect, the bathroom I first considered dirty, now seems very western and normal.  I appreciate small things very much, like how white the main floor shines when it has just been cleaned, and the look and smell of boiling hot tea in the morning.  It is amazing to me that even in such a short time, by my sheer presence in this beautiful country, my mind-set is adapting, taking in all the glory of a new culture and new ways of life.

My friends and I, making an afternoon of it on the Korneesh

Sunset on the Korneesh

As a young, independent woman, I am learning to lean on others much more here.  The girls are not always mature, but they are wise and nurturing towards one another.  We have so much respect for each other, simply because we know that we are women, and sometimes that can be difficult enough by itself, especially here where the standard and the customs between the sexes is so different.  I rely, nay, require a great deal more patience that I first imagined I would need.  It is much more difficult for me to express or articulate how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking.  I haven’t been shy since I was four years old, yet here I am, one of the quietest ones because I am still struggling to understand what is being said or how to say what I wish.  It is an experience to be sure, and one I will never regret.  Inshallah (God willing; hopefully) my skills and my courage will increase as I continue to adapt and discover.

Two of my favorite people in the program 🙂

A lovely typical day at a café

Visiting a coptic church

A supermarket that had an especially beautiful display window


4 Responses to “Adaptation and Integration”

  1. Terrie Gasperetti on June 25th, 2012 3:57 pm

    I have loved following your journey. I am so proud of you and pray for you daily. Love you bunches. Your Other Mother, Terrie

  2. Heidi Logsdon on June 25th, 2012 9:24 pm

    Way to go, Genevieve!

    This was an awesome post with lovely photos. I especially loved your inclusion of the cat photo and your description of the cacophony on the streets.
    I hope that things continue to go well, and I hope that on the more challenging days you maintain your perspective and good humor.
    We are rooting for you back at OU!

    ~Heidi Logsdon

  3. Mohammad Al-Masri on June 26th, 2012 8:47 am

    This is great news, Genevieve.. exactly what overseas programs is about. Will see you all next week in shaa Allah

  4. Yonathan on July 6th, 2012 2:15 pm

    I am happy to hear how well things are going for you. You are shatra ktheer, so I’m not worried!

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