On Wednesday evening, I returned from Egypt. I had the time of my life, but internet was nowhere to be found, so that is why I did not write in my Jterm blog while I was on my trip. Twelve days was not nearly long enough to spend in Egypt, and I was sad to return to the US despite the niceties of American conveniences. Here is a quick and dirty rundown of what I did while I was abroad.
Day 1 - Arrival in Cairo, "the city of 2000 minarets." We didn't do much this day except for get settled into our hotel. However, we did get our first experience of the Muslim call to prayer, which we were to hear almost everyday after.
Day 2 - the Wadi Natron and Alexandria. On our way to Alexandria, we visited the Monastery of St Macarius, where John the Baptist may possibly be interred. In Alexandria, we visited a Ptolemaic era catacomb, Pompey's Pillar, a Roman theater, and the new library of Alexandria.
Day 3 - Giza. We awoke early and rushed to Giza. We were the first people inside the Great Pyramid of King Khafre, which was AMAZING! We also road camels around the pyramids and saw the solar boat of King Khafre. We took many pictures with the Sphinx and visited a papyrus factory.
Day 4 - Cairo. We started off the day by visiting the Citadel built in 1176 by Saladin, the ruler of Egypt at the time. Inside the walls of the Citadel was a beautiful mosque, also built by Saladin. Our group had a seat inside the mosque and had a wonderful discussion about Islam, led by the best guide ever, Max (who was with us during the entire trip). After leaving the Citadel, we visited two churches in the Coptic Quarter of Cairo. One of the churches, the Hanging Church, is built over two Roman towers and has no foundation. The other church, Abu Serga, is rumored to be one of the places the Holy Family stayed while in their Egyptian exile. In the evening, we visted the Egyptian Museum, which was overwhelming and wonderful.
Day 5 - Saqqara, Memphis, Dashur, Faiyum. Today we visted several early pyramids, such as the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara and the Red and Bent Pyramids of Snefru in Dashur. There is little left of the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis, but there is an interesting open air museum containing some of the remains. For the night, we stayed in a beautiful hotel in the Faiyum Oasis, a hotel in which King Farouque met with Winston Churchill many years ago.
Day 6 - Maidum, El Minya. We visited the Mountain Pyramid at Maidum and crawled into an unknown mastaba tomb. In the afternoon, our group got our hands on a soccer ball and played a really fun game of soccer in the courtyard of the hotel at which we were staying.
Day 7 - Beni Hassan, Tell al-Amarna. This day we visted the Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hassan. After the Old Kingdom, none of the pharoahs built pyramids but instead starting cutting rock tombs. We visted the Monastery of Virgin Mary, another place the royal family stayed while in Egypt. Our last stop of the day was Tell al-Amarna, the capital of Egypt for a short period during the New Kingdom. There was not much left in Amarna except for the mud-brick foundations of parts of the city. There were, however, hoards of small Egyptian children who said, "Hello," and ran after the bus, asking for ball point pens because they have nothing with which to write :(
Day 8 - Abydos, Dendera, Luxor. This day was characterized by many hours of riding in our Nile Sun Travel bus and listening to our guide, Max, talk us into places we were too late to be let into. Abydos is the burial place of Osirus, and there stands his enormous temple. At Dendera is the Greco-Roman temple for Hathor, the cow goddess. In the evening, we visted the Luxor Museum, which was much smaller than the Egyptian Museum in Cairo but incredibly interesting.
Day 9 - Luxor/Theban necropolis. This day was non-stop fun. In the early morning, we popped by the Colossi of Memnon for a photo op. Then we headed to the Valley of the Kings and hit up the tombs of Tuthmoses III, Tutankhamun, and Ramsses III. We also saw the tomb of the noble Rhekhmire. One of the major highlights of the trip was visiting Hatshepsut's temple at Dier al-Bahri. At Medinet Habu, we visted the artisan houses, the TOmb of Sennutem, the temple for the artisans, and the temple for Ramsses III. Just before lunch/dinner, we squeezed in the Ramessium, a temple for Ramsses II. In the evening, we visted the Temple of Luxor.
Day 10 - Luxor, Aswan. We started our day by visiting the Temple of Karnak, then joined a convoy of busses to drive to Aswan. When we arrived in Aswan, we visted the ancient granite quarry, which included an unfinished obelisk. We also saw the Nubian Museum.
Day 11 - Abu Simbel, Cairo. Catching a 6:30am flight to Abu Simbel, we toured the monstrous temple built for Ramsses II for several hours. Also at the site was a somewhat smaller temple for his wife, Nefertari. Abu Simbel is pretty close to the Sudanese border, which means our group traveled the entire length of Egypt. Abu Simbel was, sadly, our last site to see. We got a flight back to Cairo, where we had a goodbye supper with our group, our guide, and our guide's family.
Day 12 - Cairo, Virginia. We flew home this day. I was very sad to leave Egypt behind.
I had an incredible time in Egypt and will be uploading some photos from my trip at a later date.
The fall semester of the 2006-2007 school year is coming to a close. It feels as if the year just got started, so the fact that finals are next week is very strange.
This semester was a rough ride, one of the hardest yet. It was chock full of late nights dealing with resident incidents, getting work completed on time, and totalling my car on 495 N (not the best night of my life).
My finals schedule is going to be crazy as well. I have four back-to-back in-class exams starting Wednesday afternoon and ending Friday morning. After that, I am on duty as a Resident Assistant Friday evening and have to check out my residents' rooms. But on Saturday morning, I'm home free!
It's back to Pennsylvania for me. I'm so excited to make Christmas cookies and buy and decorate a Christmas tree. I'm so excited to go home, where the weather tends to stay cold during winter like its supposed to and there is a much greater chance of a White Christmas.
Good luck to everyone on their final exams and have a great holiday season; I'll see you back here January 8 for the start of Jterm.
This past Homecoming weekend was a very special occasion in the history of the College. On Friday at 2PM, we inaugurated our 15th president, Robert R. Lindgren. The inauguration ceremony lasted roughly two hours and was dotted with speeches by the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, the Mayor of Ashland, and several of President Lindgren’s close colleagues from Johns Hopkins University, where he used to work. Each speech was endearing and from the heart. The highlight, in my opinion, is when the job of the President of a College was compared to that of an undertaker at a cemetery. The President, like the undertaker, has many people under him, but none of them listen to him. It was also quite amusing when one of the speakers misnamed President Lindgren as President Lincoln.
Accompanying the ceremony was an inauguration dinner. It was an R-MC event to which none can compare. The three best Chartwells chefs were carted in from Washington DC just for the occasion. There was an open bar, sushi on a sculpted ice tray, and an Irish Cream Bash dessert to die for. Everyone in attendance was dressed in their best attire. The decorations and table settings transformed the Brock Center from the gym where I play intramurals to an elaborate banquet hall. Frequenting the tables were quite a few noteworthy people. I had the pleasure of dining with the College’s attorney, Rusty Ryland, and his lovely wife. The other student who was at the table – the wonderful Sophomore Class Senator Diane Blackburn – and I wowed our fellow diners with our stimulating conversation. It was an event I will not soon forget.
The next day was our annual Homecoming football game, this year against the Guilford Quakers. After a brief Homecoming parade (the float I was on, the Residence Hall Association/ Resident Assistant float, came in third), the football game commenced. Many of my friends who graduated in years past were in attendance. It was a real treat to be able to see so many people I missed. Neither of the people I voted for won Homecoming King or Queen, but I feel that Margarita Tobar and Steven Ahonen are a deserving Homecoming couple to win nonetheless. Our football team was not able to pull off a victory, but I feel most people enjoyed themselves anyway. It’s always good to see old friends and catch up.
Next year’s Homecoming, which will be my last, may not stand up to this year’s events. There will be no delicious inauguration dinner or classy inauguration ceremony. However, it will by my senior year Homecoming. I’ll once again get to see all of those people whom I truly miss. And who knows, maybe I’ll walk off the field wearing that snazzy Homecoming Queen sash.
This is not a plug for the Student Activities Carnival
It has only been one week since the 2006-2007 school year began and already I feel completely engrossed in the world of Randolph-MaconCollege. My life has been overrun by going to class, working, and socializing. Emails are continually falling from the sky. Meetings are being held at all hours of most days. The coffee pot is getting a very vigorous work-out. My bed is seeing less of me than it likes (and I really do hate to disappoint my bed). Junior year has officially started and I have had to hit the ground running at break-neck speed.
It might sound as if I am complaining, but that's not the case at all. The hustle and bustle of being in Ashland keeps me on the balls of my feet, ready to pounce when the bell sounds.
One of the things I like most about R-MC is the feeling of accomplishment I get when I know I pushed myself beyond my limits. For me, this feeling most often comes after a particularly horrific week during which I slept maybe three hours a night and barely had time for meals, but it does not take nearly the same amount of stress for most people on campus to feel accomplished. At Randolph-Macon, getting involved means stretching oneself. People are capable of much more than they think they are when they put their mind to a task.
Last year, the Residence Hall Association submitted petitions and was able to get the card swipe times changed from 9:00AM-9:00PM to 8:00AM-10:00PM. Campus Activities Board held fantastic events like SpringFest and Macon Out At the Movies. Habitat for Humanity raised enough funds to go on an amazing Spring Break trip to a Georgia build site.
Getting involved on campus is a great way not only to bolster one's resume, it is one of the best ways to have a hand in making campus life better for everyone.
So get on the balls of your feet, get ready to pounce, even when the sound of the bell is only the whistle of the cargo train as it rumbles through the town at a lazy 25mph.