October 1, 2012 : Cairo Day 21 : Global One Month Anniversary & Happiness

It’s hard to believe that it has only been a month, that we still have four more months to go, and five more countries to explore. But it’s even harder to grasp the fact that a month had passed already, that we only have four more months to go, and that the days are so slow but so fast. It’s challenging to digest everything that’s happened because a lot had happened in so little time–it feels longer than a month–but it feels so short–but it’d been so long. And in the 30 or so days that I’d left my beloved home to leave footprints on parts of the world, that reality that I’d left home is slowly kicking in. Homesickness…I don’t know if I’m ready for you.

I was definitely surprise that I wasn’t homesick in Geneva or Istanbul since I’m one to long for home quickly. Perhaps I was too busy indulging in the sweet adventures that left me exhausted at the end of the day that I sleep like a baby most nights. However, the past few days I’ve found myself more tired than usual: physically and emotionally drained for unknown reasons. I confess that I have cried because I miss home, especially my mom, but not enough to drain me this much. It must definitely be from all the excursions: we’ve been on the go for over a week now, touring temples in the scorching hot sun definitely drains a large sum of energy.

But all that aside, I want to dedicate this post to reflecting on the trip so far since it is the Global Semester’s one month anniversary.

Geneva, Switzerland might possibly be my favorite place so far. I hate to admit this but I loved Geneva probably because it was the closest city that reflected home: many people spoke English, modern, wealthy, and other factors that relates to home. Although I love Istanbul just as much, I find myself missing Geneva more often. But I must say that I absolutely refuse to judge Cairo since I haven’t left Zamalek to explore other parts of Cairo yet, so it’s unfair. However, I did enjoy my time in Luxor, Hurghada, and Alexandria.

I realized that I truly took drinkable tap water for granted. My freshmen year in college, I purchased bottled water; as a sophomore, I drank from the water fountain; in Geneva, I drank the tap water from the sink in the bathroom; everywhere thereafter, my peers and I must find stores that sell 1.5 liters bottle water. It’s not only wasteful but annoying to keep on purchasing these large plastic bottles. When I return home, I’m most definitely taking advantage of the free drinkable tap water.

Slowly I’m discovering myself and who I want to be. Before, I honestly think that I allowed people to walk all over me, pushing me down so they can be elevated. To a certain degree, this made me feel good…or even happy that others are happy. But I discovered on this trip that I’m just as deserving to be elevated as the next person, that I shouldn’t allow myself to be stomped down, and that everyone including myself can be happy without putting each other down. It’s quite naive and perhaps a late discovery, but it’s honest.

On the way to Metro grocery store, a family of perhaps four (mother, young baby, and two toddlers) sits on the hard concrete sidewalk begging for money. It sucks that there’s absolutely nothing I could do about it. Sure, I could give them money, but I don’t–not because I’m selfish or greedy, but I’ve been told to not do it, and that some are professional beggars. In other words, it’s a fraud. But still, this pulls at my heartstrings. A single mother with young children in ripped clothing and a foreigner, what can I do? What should I do?

Today’s class revolved around happiness, whatever that is. Am I happy? Of course: I’m educated, have loving family and friends, and is studying abroad. I am so privileged to have all of these things. My peers came up with this definition, “Happiness is being proud of your past, your present, and your future.” And I can’t argue with that. 

On the hierarchy of happiness, after the basic necessities of life, I would argue that social relationships are the next most important parts of being happy, but then again, happiness is such a subjective topic.    

… I had a lot to say about this, but I’ve completely lost my train of thoughts, so I’m going to end this here and continue with my usual daily update.

It’s a strange sight to see clouds here in Cairo, not to mention a rainbow. 

For dinner, four other friends and I had Koshary, a famous Egyptian dish. The restaurant was extremely busy, small, and hot, but it felt good to try something new. Included in the dish is macaroni, spaghetti, chickpeas, lentil, and fried onions topped with a tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is not overpowering at all and the fried onions added a sweet twist to the dish. It was extremely filling, delicious, and cheap: 3 pounds.    


Desert: White Forest: Twix and Snickers, Blueberry Sauce, Caramel flavored cream, Nutella, and White Chocolate with Snickers: 15 pounds: less than 3 USD.

So dinner tonight was 18 pounds, which is 3 USD = WIN.

I want you to ponder the thought of happiness: what is happiness? What is your definition of happiness? Are you happy right now? Why or why not? 

I ask you to give this some thoughts, and certainly let me know your answers. 

Wishing you a happy October,
-Thao 

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