Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bits & Pieces

Before I start:
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- I really miss Cairo. I honestly never thought I would, since living there was pretty stressful, but I can't stop thinking about it. I keep remembering little things like hearing the adhaan, going to Starbucks, eating Egyptian food, and being surrounded by Muslims. At this point I feel like moving back but at the same time I know that if I do, I'm going to wish I hadn't and I'm going to regret not giving Holland a chance. It's only been 2 months, and like my best friend told me, it takes at least a year to settle down somewhere. Inshallah once I start meeting people that are like me and once my MA classes start, things will get better.

- I miss my family a lot too. It's weird coming home to a quiet empty apartment, and not having anyone to say hi to. I miss little things like going to Starbucks and doing gorcery shopping together; or just having someone to complain to about stuff. I also really miss my friends. We had so many good times, and I really hope we never lose touch. Finally, I miss my 2 cats, Sugar (white & fluffy) and Flatface (grey).

- I thought that there was no way I'd be able to gain weight during Ramadan, since I'd be fasting for 16+ hours, but now that it's started I'm starting to change my mind. The problem is 1) your metabolism slows down a lot if you don't eat for long periods; 2) you think about food the whole day and so overeat once fasting is over; and 3) it's difficult to go to the gym. Last year in Cairo iftar was around 6, so I would eat then go to the gym at 8. In Holland iftar is at 9, and my gym closes at 10. So yeah, I pretty much have to work out while fasting which is hard, because once you get home after you're pretty much dead. I go every other day for a 30 min training session and once I get home I kind of lie on the couch half-dead checking the clock obsessively. Not healthy behaviour. Since we're on the topic of gyms, I also really miss my old gym. It was the first gym I'd ever joined and I did not realize how attached I was to it till I came to Holland and kept having flashbacks of it. I used to complain about that gym all the time while I was there, but I would give anything to be able to go there again! That's a pic of it, on the left.

- I'm a bit nervous about starting my Masters. I know for sure that I want to study Islam, and that I want my future career to involve Islam, but I'm worried that I don't have enough of a theological/legal background in Islam to do well. I'm also worried about not knowing classical Arabic.

- I'm addicted to Starbucks, and it's kind of something I'm known for among my friends and family. In Cairo I was a regular at 3 different Starbucks', where they knew me, my order, and pretty much my life story. I thought Holland, being the coffee-loving country it is, would have an abundance of Starbucks'. Then I came here and found out there are only 4 - 3 of which are at the airport. Those are the closest ones to me, and they're about 30 mins away by train. Now I would gladly make that journey, and I will once Ramadan is over. Till then I'll just have to keep daydreaming about carrot cakes, vanilla lattes, and caramel frapuccinos. Sigh.


Sarah the Seeker said...

I know exactly what you mean about flashbacks. Things you never thought much of when you were there, pop into your head and trigger nostalgia and longing.

Re the starbucks addiction, I think you will have to find a way to create those vanilla lattes and things at home! You could even buy a bag of starbucks ground coffee next time you go, for the real taste.

I can't believe you're going to the gym while fasting! I can't even walk very fast!

Don't worry about the studies, you will do fine I'm sure. They don't admit people on to courses unless they are going to be able to do them.

I'm sure you will feel better once you get into your studies and into a routine. You're kind of in limbo now, by the sounds of it, which is always a bit unsettling. You will get through it though! ((hugs))

nadia said...

Perhaps if you were with your family or friends now, you wouldn't have felt this homesick for Cairo (except, perhaps the adhan - that's one thing you terribly miss in a non-Muslim country).

And I too can't believe you work out while fasting!

Hope you settle into a comfortable routine soon, inshaAllah, and enjoy your studies.

WhiteOrchid said...

It's natural to miss home. See Im Sri Lankan but I lived in Saudi for 16 years , and although I should be happy in my homecountry I'm not! Saudi will always be home for me. I miss my family (they still live there) , my friends and everything about the life there. I do visit them every year but its not the same :(

You'll get used to it soon inshallah don't worry.

Btw, I love your cats! I have one too!:D

Mina said...

Yummy frapuccinos omg plz don't make thirsty i miss that stuff during my fasting...i could live off it:P

Anonymous said...

Wow, no Starbucks within 30 minutes?! I can walk to one in about 10-15 minutes or 2 minutes driving. :D
And I can't believe you work out during Ramadan. I can't walk very fast during Ramadan either, much less work out. :p
Yup I haven't lost weight either, I consider myself fortunate if I stay the same weight this month. :P

Candice said...

Wow, I can't believe you are going to the gym while fasting! That's some good dedication! I didn't even know there were Starbucks places in Egypt! lol. I've gotten used to my morning coffee at work in the morning and at Tim Hortons on the weekend so if I went to Egypt, I'd definitely have to look up one near me! Weird that they don't have one there, although I know we don't have one here in my city. Maybe there's a decent alternative?

And your old gym is really awesome! This was in Egypt???

Anonymous said...

Hang in there babe, you'll make it through.. I have been reading books called "Culture Shock" that tell a traveler all about what they will experience in that certain country: the culture, traditions, how to act, how to be polite etc.. and this book says to go for 6 months without any contact with people back home! That way you have to force yourself to get along on your own in your new environment without any of the familiarities.. just remember why you are there.. If you want to change your way of thinking and truly immerse yourself and learn about the country you live in, then you have to force yourself into some uncomfortable moments and feelings.
It can be a life changing experience if you allow it to be.

heeee, that is my strict voice, telling you YOU BETTER NOT GIVE UP YET!!!

LOL :))

Jaz said...

I get what you mean! It's easy to complain about wherever you are, and it's also easy to miss it.

When I'm in Egypt, I miss Scotland and when I'm in Scotland I miss Egypt.

I think that's the human condition.

Good things about Cairo is the way the city never sleeps - I don't know if it's the same in Holland but in the UK everything closes really early (about 6pm except restaurants which close at 10pm or 11pm. Even nightclubs and bars have to close by 1am)

Umm Omar said...

aaaw, you sound really homesick. Insha'Allah, it will get better. It actually took me a good 2 years to feel fully settled where I am now (a state other than the one I grew up in). It does take time. And I understand the whole Starbucks thing. I also had an obsession with a local coffee place and when I moved, it was sooo hard getting used to life without it! And yeah, amazing that you go to the gym while fasting. That's motivating. Hang in there, honey. Things will start to look up.

Sara said...

I am at work. Hungry. Tired. Thirsty. And gaining weight :S
Which gym did you go to?

I am a starbacks Korba person:)

Muni said...

I'm kinda starting to feel bad about the whole Starbucks thingy, it sounds serious!
I might stop putting up pix of your fav. stuff on our blog! Might!

Gym while fasting sure sounds ABSOLUTELY crazy! But you're metabolism is benefiting so yeah!

Miss Cairo?
Puh leez
You're tripping! LOL It's still the same madness, and btw I remember that comment you said on your last night here (on the Felucca) about it being stressful once you step out of the house. Amen to that sister! It is what it is. Cairo does have some charm.

But I have to agree that you need to give Holland a chance! Especially that you're life is bound to change once schools starts. Don't worry about school, I think you just have alot of alone time to dwell on the what=ifs, rightfully so, but stay positive and I'm sure it'll be exciting in every sense of the word.

About the mosque, I think you should go and just pray and get out! There should be people approaching you for many reasons, but ultimately it's a place to pray and of spirituality. For friends, join a muslims' only club or something.

I'm extremely skeptical about "making" friends in a mosque!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah - yeah, I hope you're right! Although I feel like I've settled I probably haven't really.

I've always thought making lattes would be hard, and I hate plain coffee so I never drink coffee unless it's from a cafe and it's a latte :) At home I usually stick to tea due to its hard-to-mess-up nature haha. I've discovered that adding coffee milk to my tea makes it taste amazing!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Nadia - I agree, I think it's more about family and friends than about Cairo itself. Inshallah I'll settle into a routine soon, like you said =)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

WhiteOrchid - I can see why you see Saudi as your home. It's always like that with places you grow up in. I still see Lusaka, Zambia as my home, even though I haven't lived there for 5 years now.
What kind of cat do you have? I love cats!!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Mina - lol I love them too! Starbucks just made a new one that's amaaaazzing. Once Ramadan is over I think I'm gonna go and have 5 :D

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Aynur: agghh I can't believe you're 2 minutes away from a Starbucks! LUCKY! Go and have some now!! (after iftar :P)

I think I'll be lucky to stay the same weight this month too. I seriously thought not eating for 17 hours a day would do something but it's having the opposite effect haha.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Candice - the thing in Holland is that a latte is called "coffee made the wrong way" so as you can guess, it's not popular lol. I don't really like lattes, I like flavoured ones, which they don't seem to have anywhere. So so far I haven't found an alternative. I've heard of a place called Bagels and Beans, maybe they have something there. I hope!

Yes that was my gym in Egypt :)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah Elizabeth - lol you're so cute. You're so right about there having to be uncomfortable moments for me to settle into a new culture. There have already been some haha. I hope everything works out (I think it will).

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Jaz - you're right. It's like missing winter in summer and summer in winter.

Yeah shops here close at 6 and supermarkets at 8 or 10. In Cairo some supermarkets and shops close at 2 or 3 am. But restaurants and cafes and things stay open pretty late here, I think, so it's not really a problem.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Umm Omar - yeah I think a year or 2 is the normal time to get used to somewhere. Plus here there's also the language barrier which is really annoying. Inshallah I'll learn Dutch properly soon :)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sara - haha, I'm at home - hungry, thirsty and gaining weight.

I went to the gym at the JW Marriott. I used to go to the Starbucks at Maadi City Centre and at Citystars (2nd floor :P) the most cause they were the closest ones to me, but I looved the Korba one, esp. sitting on the terrace.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Muni - yes that last carrot cake pic was annoying :P lol
Ugh I know that if I came back to Cairo I'll remember why I left - it's tooo strressful! But now all I'm seeing are the good things lol.

About the mosque, the reason why I want to meet people there is just because I want to meet Muslims and I'm not sure how else to do that. Maybe through my uni, but otherwise it's pretty hard I think.

Fatimah said...

Sounds like you have a lot going on! I just started my master's as well, but at home, and it's still kind of overwhelming.. BUT i love that i'm finally focusing on a subject i WANT to learn about. makes allt he difference... good luck with everyone, you will be great inshallah!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hi Fatimah =) Welcome to my blog!
I totally agree, studying something you like makes all the difference!
Now that I'm studying Islam I feel like I don't mind doing lots of work and reading. It's amazing!
Thanks for stopping by :)