Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Life in America

Since I returned home I have had many of my friends and family ask me about how I am adjusting to life in America, what I miss about Egypt and what I am glad to see again. I enjoyed my time in Egypt but I am indeed happy to be home again.

There are several things that have taken some adjustment. It is interesting to understand exactly what everyone is saying in public, almost overwhelming. I have been told that past YAV’s have had nervous breakdowns after visiting American grocery stores. Perhaps by hearing that I was prepared, so I didn’t freak out. But I am astounded by the sheer amount of products we have here. My grocery store in Egypt would completely fit in a third of one aisle at the local Publix grocery store here in Snellville, GA. Why do we need so much stuff to buy? I have gone to Wal-Mart a couple of times just to wander the aisles. I wasn’t there to buy anything specific. I just wandered the aisles and looked at all the stuff that is available to buy. I found it more silly than overwhelming.

What I have found quite overwhelming is driving on the streets and highways of Atlanta. I visited my brother at his new downtown apartment and could feel my heart rate and breathing quicken. I was very edgy by the time I arrived. I used taxis during my entire time in Egypt and even though the driving there was largely unregulated and quite crazy, it was comparatively slow. I experienced several hair-raising moments sitting in the back seat of a Cairo taxicab and barely flinched. I got used to the chaos from the back seat. Here there is less congestion, but traffic moves much faster, and sometimes the roads are much narrower. Plus I actually have to pay attention now instead of blissfully trying to read road signs in another language. Getting from one place to another has become quite an ordeal for my nerves.

Something I didn’t realize I missed, but now I appreciate being around them again, is pine trees. I love pine trees.

Recently I got to meet the newest member of my family: my new baby cousin. She was born back in November and I just got to see her. She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen and I can’t wait to see her again. She’s so sweet and adorable.

What do I miss about Egypt? The friendly people. That’s not to say all Egyptian people are friendly. In fact they probably wouldn’t give each other the time of day most of the time. But in their eyes I am special. I am a foreigner that they want to be around and take care of and protect. They want to make sure I have a good time in their country. I tried my best to not let this kind of attention go to my head. I know deep down that I am not some super special fantastic person; I was just a guy living in another country in a different culture. Still, I don’t think anyone can go to another country and be lavished with attention the way we all were and walk away unchanged. Yes, I miss that kind of attention. Who wouldn’t?

I miss living near fantastic ancient places and artifacts. I think there are the obvious ancient Egyptian artifacts, pyramids and temples, but I have a newfound appreciation for the ancient Christian and Islamic locations. I never knew how much of a presence Christianity had and still has in Egypt and much of the Middle East.

I tell you one thing… it’s very odd to listen to the news or watch a program on Egypt and hear Arabic words and understand them clearly. It just seems so odd in this context.

I’ll continue to write more about my impressions of being home, so stay tuned.

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