Winter break and leaving the states

I spent most of this break traveling which is kind of ironic in a way because I'm going to be gone all semester. I went skiing for a weekend, traveled to western Maryland with my family for a few days, went to Seattle to set up my internship for the summer (If you know how to find housing in the university district for the summer from abroad I'd love to talk to you) and then flew out to Arizona and drove back to the east coast with another Olin student.

I'm excited for my summer internship in Seattle. I'll be working at the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab at Sand Point. My boss seems pretty cool and I'll be working on a unmanned aerial vehicle project. I've also been told that the weather will be nicer in the summer than it was when I visited. I think I saw sunlight for about two or three hours out of my entire three day trip. The weather reminded me of winter at Olin, just a bit warmer.

Overall winter break has been tons of fun and I got to see an bunch of places I'd never been to before. I'd never spent much time out west and I got to go twice. I ate dinner in the French Quarter in New Orleans when I'd never been to Louisiana. I visited five states over break that I had never been to before. It was great. However, it didn't leave much time in between jaunts to prep for leaving the country for 4.5 months.

I leave in about ten hours to go to Cairo where I'll be studying at the American University in Cairo until June.

Traveling to Egypt required shots (five of them) and blood work that I didn't want to get done. I also had to get my tourist visa (you apply for a student visa once you're in the country) and international student identity card and figure out banking since there are no American banks which have branches in Cairo. I'm going to have to let my driver's license lapse while I'm gone since I can't renew until after I turn 21 and renewing it by mail is rather sketchy in Egypt. In all likelihood the materials would arrive after I left. Oh yeah, I had to pack too.

Packing turned out to be harder than I expected simply because I'm not sure what to expect. I've talked to about half a dozen people who have studied at the university in the last year and each has given me very different answers on what to wear, what to pack, and how to get around. The same can be said of the travel guides available and the advice from the university. However, they all agreed that it was a phenomenal experience so I decided not to sweat the details too much, erred on the side of caution, and made sure to pack a head scarf and manteau (the Persian word for a jacket that covers a woman's arms to the wrist and falls somewhere between mid-thigh and mid-calf, maybe I'll learn the Arabic word in the next few weeks).

I'm now packed, which is why there are no pictures - my camera's buried in one of my bags, and I have only a few errands left to run today. It still hasn't sunk in yet that I'm leaving. Maybe it will at the airport. It's funny because I'm getting calls, e-mails, and facebook messages from friends already who seem to have realized that I'm leaving before I have. Thankfully I'll have internet at my apartment in Cairo so I'll be able to stay in touch.

-Ana

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