Wednesday, July 09, 2008


When people hear we are planning on moving to Egypt, they fire off a number of questions, all of which are highly predictable. The order they are asked changes, and phraseology differs, but inevitably they all come up.

Q: You're what? What will you be doing over there?
A: Yes, we're moving to Cairo...Egypt. Andrew will be getting his master's degree at the American University in Cairo.

Q: What's he majoring in?
A: Math....Just kidding! Middle East Studies.

Q: Oh, that makes sense. Well, what are you going to do over there?
A: Same thing I do over here.

Q: What's that?
A: Stay at home with Rachel.

Q: Will you have to wear a burqa?
A: No. I will wear the hijab, though. Calm down. It just means modest clothing: long sleeves, long pants, long skirts. I won't have to wear the veil or anything.

Q: Are you scared?
A: Nervous, yes. Stressed, yes. Scared, no. There are a lot of things we have to do to get ready to go, but it's really pretty safe over there. There's less petty crime than there is in America, in general, and tourism drives the Egyptian economy so they handle foreigners with care.

Q: Do either of you speak Egyptian?
A: Well, no, but Andrew has studied Arabic for about 3 years now. I have picked up a bit here and there.

Q: Have you been there before?
A: Yes. We traveled through Egypt for about 10 days and lived in Jordan for a semester. We've been to other places in the Middle East as well.

Q: How does your family feel about this?
A: For the most part they're okay. I mean, we've traveled a lot and we can email and call home. They're just sad that we're taking Rachel so far away.

I can't tell you how many times I've run through varying forms of this conversation. If you can think of any original questions, I'll be interested in hearing them!


  1. How are you going to handle the insects over there... and whatever other poisonous beasts and arachnids will be wandering around the place? lol

  2. How is the transportation system like in Cairo? I am assuming that you won't have a car there... :)

  3. @ Heidi--I have a wonderful husband, to whom mosquitoes are intensely attracted. When he's around I don't have to worry because I get bit about 500 times less than he does. However, we're packing along some deet-enriched sprays, permethrin, and mosquito netting for his comfort.

    @ Marquita--AUC has arranged a bus system to get students from Greater Cairo to the new AUC campus, which is way out in the middle of no where. Other than that we'll be reliant on taxis, buses, the metro, and the generosity of others to get around town.

  4. You forgot "how long will you be there?" I'm sure that's a common one.
    But here's the unique one: What's your favorite color? Next time someone tells me something exciting like "I'm moving to Egypt." I'm going to ask them their favorite color. :)

  5. We'll be there for two years. At least. We have no plans for after he's finished with his degree (as of yet), so we'll just go wherever he finds employment. (And yes, that's a common question).

    My favorite color, though...that's difficult. I like lots of colors. Yellow, and pink, and blue, and green...and others. :)

  6. Whenever you come back to the US,you'll have to deal with the annoyingly vague question "'s Egypt?"

  7. I can't think of any fascinatingly unoriginal questions at the moment...sorry. But you should have Patrick tell you about Ali...he's our Egyptian friend we got to know while on our 12 hour Dubai layover! (Ha ha, that's almost like the "do you know...?" game, a close second cousin of the "frequently asked questions" game for people who are traveling...)

  8. Actually, I was just wondering what types of employment Andrew will be looking into once he finishes his degree?

  9. That's not worded the greatest...but you can gather what I meant...what's he hoping to do for his careeer?

  10. And I can't spell either, and I just added three comments to your blog, sorry.

  11. how many days until you guys leave?

  12. There's also the "how's the weather there" question and the "so I guess you don't mind the heat" question/statement... Here's a good question: does Andrew have to do a thesis or is his program more practice based? Another is: will he actually be done with school when he's finished AUC or will he want to go on for even more education? A question someone from these parts might ask is: do you guys just not like the US? Why are you always trying to get away? ;)

    I'm just glad that my move in 2 weeks is only about a block away instead of half a world!

  13. Wow that's a great list Nancy! You should just print it out and hand it to people when they start going down that line of questioning! Ha ha! You are sure in for an awesome adventure!

  14. My question is: Why would you not come see me on your way to Egypt?
    Hahahahaha! No, for real, I forget when you're leaving...

  15. Where exactly is Egypt? :o) I'm sure you've been asked that.

  16. @ Melissa--Ha, ha! My host dad in Russia would ask me that every time I came home from the internet cafe. "So, Miss Nancy, how's America?"

    Very, very vague indeed!

    @ Shallee--Patrick's told me a bit about him already. :)

    @ Shaillé--Andrew would like to teach at the college level, so...

    @ Joy--...he's planning on getting his PhD as well. From Harvard, if all goes smashingly. We may have to get an "in limbo" job until we can afford to pay for school and we wouldn't mind getting "stuck" out there working for a few years.

    @ Esther--Not a bad idea. ;)

    @ Josie and Abra--29 days (August 13). Yikes. And I wish I could stop by to visit, but we're kind of getting to the "under the wire" stage of things. I'd love to go up with Mom and Jo, but they're not planning on getting back until the day before we leave, so that might be cutting things a little too close, don't you think?

    @ Abra--Why don't you come visit us?

    @ Doug--You know, I think we have been asked that a few times. You'd be surprised at how little people know about things over there...

  17. My favorite questions in response to being told we were moving to Egypt:

    "What will you eat there?"

    "How are you getting there? Driving?" Yes, in our new magic underwater car.