Thursday, September 04, 2008

Journey to a New Campus

It was pretty much impossible to get anything done at the old campus during orientation. I stood in a 1 hour long line twice to get my ID card—I was rejected the first time because I didn’t bring a receipt from paying tuition, which I was told I needed an ID card to do….

I stood in a 1.5 hour long line twice at the bank trying to pay for Nancy and Rachel’s insurance—I was rejected the first time because apparently it has to be paid for in American dollars. I had to go to an ATM, get a whole bunch of pounds out, go back to the bank, have them convert it to dollars, and then convert those dollars back into pounds, finally depositing them in the appropriate AUC department account.

Lastly, I had to stand in a 45 minute line 3 times while trying to get a student visa. Apparently they lost some important medical and security forms during the transition to the old campus so I can’t legally get a student visa right now. Instead we all got a 6 month extension on our tourist visas. They hope to have all the medical and security clearances done by November, in sha allah (yeah, right).

So, on Monday, after getting as much done as I could at the old campus, I decided to make the brave journey out to Qatamiyya/New Cairo and see what I could do there. Because it’s still summer break (and it was the first day of Ramadan to boot), there is only one operative bus route, going from the old campus to the new campus like 5 times a day. I knew it would be risky getting out there; I could be waiting for a bus in Cairo for hours or I could get stuck in the middle of nowhere in New Cairo for hours, but I knew I had to get out there to get anything else done. My goal was to get on the 10:00 bus going there and the 11:30 bus coming back (ambitious, I know). If I messed up I’d have to take the 11:00 bus there and the 1:30 bus back. My resultant itinerary follows:

9:00 – Leave the apartment. Walking down the stairs I hear a heartbroken Rachel chant “Da da da da da”

9:03 – Go back to the apartment to get a camera. Find a happy Rachel who again starts babbling “Da da da” until I leave again.

9:07 – Arrive at Sakanaat al Maadi metro station.

9:10 – Get on metro.

9:35 – Arrive at Sadat metro station at Tahrir square.

9:36 – An AUC bus pulls up to campus

9:37 – I arrive outside of AUC and see tons of AUC faculty getting on the bus. I follow suit. Nobody checks for my bus pass or ID. Phew.

9:40 – Bus leaves. Don’t know whether this was the 9:00 bus, the 10:00 bus, or the “it’s the first day of Ramadan and there’s no schedule whatsoever” bus

10:30 – Bus arrives at the new campus. I start my mad errand run.

11:40 – Finish errands.

11:43 – Bus pulls up to campus. I push my way on past dozens of Egyptian students. I’m the second to last person to get on. Again, no bus pass check or ID check. Phew again.

12:20 – Make it back to the old campus. Only 3 hours and 40 minutes!

Apparently that last 1% is a huge percent. There was no electricity on the whole campus, no internet, few buildings even have water; it is a complete hard hat zone. Graduate secretaries and advisors bring their laptops and write down what needs to be done once they get back to an internet connection.

Classes start in a few days. This will be fun!

1 comment:

  1. Jeemenee! Aren't you lucky. I love how you've tranlated Insallah (you have to imagine a cedilla, and I'm spelling it the Turkish way, sorry) as "yeah right." That's excellent. Probably fits the real purpose of the word much more than the meaning! :)