The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

September 29, 2012

Woman experiences foreign culture as an educator in Egypt


PALESTINE — A Typical Day

In Egypt, students go to school Sunday through Thursday. On those days, Thomason and Chloe get up around 6 a.m. and get ready for the day. They catch the school bus at 6:55 a.m. at a corner near their flat.

“The bus goes around and picks up the other expats and our principal each day at staggered times. We got lucky and got the latest time,” Thomason said.

They arrive at school around 7:30 every morning and at about 7:45 a.m., everyone lines up in the courtyard. There, Thomason said, “the students sing the national anthem, recite the pledge, and then a couple of students read/sing a passage from the Quran for the student body.”

Afterward, everyone heads to class after any administrative announcements. The school bus picks them up at the school at 3:45 p.m. and they head home with the other expats.

“I love our bus. It’s not like the ‘yellow dog’ I was expecting, but like a chartered bus,” Thomason explained.

Most days she and Chloe are home by 4:30 p.m.

“Typically, Chloe and I will stop by the Ace Club a few times a week after school and have a bite to eat and chit chat with friends and enjoy the general ambiance,” Thomason said.

The Ace Club is an expat club which includes a restaurant and features free Internet and activities such as live shows, dancing and karaoke.

“They are always playing Western television shows and sports where big game nights can get lively,” Thomason said. “It’s a small little Western haven in the middle of the lovely chaos of Cairo. There’s always something to do here if you just start walking.”

After initially being surprised by the many street vendors selling soft drinks, chocolate, chips, and other forms of junk food, Thomason has found some unique restaurants that deliver.

“I personally like the small hole-in-the wall Egyptian and Lebanese restaurants. I feel like it’s a shame to move somewhere like Cairo and only eat what you know,” she said.

She has become familiar enough with the area to know where she can get good fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.  

Eating healthy and staying fit is something she plans to do while in Cairo. That’s one reason she joined a local rugby team.

On Tuesdays she has rugby practice and on Sundays she conditions with the team.

“I pulled my ACL at the first game of the season, so conditioning and practice will not be as participatory as I had expected, but I’m still going to show up to continue to learn the game and have fun with the team,” she continued.

Thomason also plans to start working out a local gym she has joined, adding that it’s just as hard to stay motivated to work out in Cairo as it was back in Texas.

Eventually, she would like to start taking Arabic lessons and get Chloe into some extracurricular activities.

“We finally got satellite at home with a few English speaking channels, so Chloe gets her MTV watching in on most nights as well.”

For friends back in the States, Thomason said the time difference  is seven hours. For example, when it’s noon in Palestine, it’s 7 p.m. in Egypt.

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