Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The first couple days in Cairo were spent at academic and university orientations covering the basics of the campus tour, class registration, and residence hall life. Unfortunately, disorganization has become the dominant topic of conversation among study abroad students. Details are not worked out in advance, which leaves the International Student Service Office (ISSO) personnel often working out details during the orientation sessions. Confusion and frustration run high. At the dorms, we are frustrated with the lack of preparation with living arrangements. Many services such as wireless Internet and exercise equipment were not prepared before arrival, and the residence director is rushing to try to get everything done. The students don’t help the situation when they ask common sense questions or questions previously asked. “Where will placement exam results be posted?” Answer: at the ISSO office, just like everything else. “Can the results be posted before Monday?” Answer: No, because they will be posted on Monday.

The conversations among students present an interesting cultural question: how much of the orientation experience is cultural, and how much of it just disorganization? I disagree with many of my peers because I think culture has much to do with it. As American students, we expect reliable, high-speed Internet at our fingertips. We want detailed information ASAP. We expect meetings to run smoothly. We expect efficiency in everything we do. We have an attitude of, “I paid for this, so it better be my way.” Basically, we are a generation of now, and Egypt is not. Expectations and the pace of life are much different than in the United States. The way I see it, I’m living in Egypt, and Egypt is not going to change. If somebody needs to change their approach to daily affairs, I guess it should be me.

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