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Former News Editor reflects on unique experience in Egyptian capital

Sarah Mervosh | Friday, February 4, 2011

This was originally supposed to be a column introducing The Observer’s new blog, The International Desk, in which study abroad students share their experiences from locations around the world.

I was studying abroad in Cairo and already had a column written for this space a week ago to convince you to read about my life in Egypt.

It went something like this:

Right now, it is probably nearing lunchtime and you are reading The Observer while sipping on a coffee from Waddick’s.

You’re dreading your next class and wishing you had gotten a few more hours of sleep.

It feels like negative 12 degrees outside.

Right now in Cairo, it’s dinnertime. I’m tired from a long day of classes and am sitting in traffic on the bus back to my dorm.

I’ll soon be exploring the streets of Cairo in search of tonight’s dinner. If I get a typical Egyptian meal, it will cost me less than the cup of coffee you’re sipping.

The sun has set for the day, but it’s still a balmy 60 degrees outside.

A few days ago, I revised the column to go like this:

Right now in Cairo, it’s dinnertime. I’m listening to Taylor Swift and writing this blog in my dorm room because

I don’t have Internet access to distract me.

I’ve been in the dorm since 4 p.m., which is when the city-wide curfew goes into effect.

Every once in a while, I hear the sound of gunshots from my window.

But now, the column goes like this.

Right now, it’s 5 a.m. in Istanbul and I’ve been up for almost 24 hours straight.

I was woken up this morning to learn that the U.S. State Department was evacuating me and the 11 other Notre Dame students from Egypt. We packed and boarded the bus to the airport almost immediately.

After 10 hours of standing in an excruciatingly slow and long line outside the Cairo airport, we finally boarded a plane to leave the country.

Due to major uprisings against the current Egyptian president and riots all over the country, the 12 Notre Dame students studying abroad in Cairo were evacuated, pulled from the program and reassigned to either Notre Dame or London.

I’m sure most of you have read the headlines or watched CNN. In fact, you probably know more about the facts of the Egyptian revolution than me, since I was without Internet for almost a week.

But what I do know is what it felt like being there.

What tear gas feels like.

What life is like without Internet or phone access.

What cars look like after they’ve been set on fire by protesters.

And you can read about all of it at The Observer’s new blog, The International Desk

This was originally supposed to be a column convincing you to read the new blog. I even came up with a corny slogan: “The Observer’s International Desk — Helping Notre Dame students break out of the bubble without leaving Waddick’s since 2011.”

But to be honest, I don’t have much energy left for convincing.

So I will simply say, if you are interested in reading about the most mind-blowing, whirlwind experience of my life, read my blog at The Observer’s International Desk.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Sarah Mervosh at [email protected]