Despite the darkness, life goes on

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Christopher Columbus (thanks to my friend A in Australia for this timely quote)

Life is difficult for me at the moment, and I am not blogging regularly. So I would like to share some comments from an expat website which has helped me, and which reflect some of my experience here. I can identify with the feeling of being “numb” mentioned below. In some ways the numbness comes from complete overload of learning new things about life in Egypt and changing my perspective almost daily to accommodate the new things I learn. The past 13 months have been a year of see-saw feelings, from feeling more intensely alive than ever before, through my experiences and in the enjoyment of learning and struggling to make a life here, to feeling the opposite, that numbness of being overwhelmed by it all. At the moment, I feel the numbness is in a fight to the death with the feeling of being intensely alive. I can only hope that the joy of life wins.

I also know that with the Revolution and continuing difficult times for so many people here, I am far from being the only one feeling numb, and I know there are people in even more difficult circumstances than me. Despite my current difficulties, I definitely agree with the findings of the expat survey that personal development, broadening horizons and gaining life experience has been the most important benefit of living here. So I must keep going and hopefully find solutions, and be able to continue here. I also hope that can again be with my love, who I am from this week separated from as he must work on the other side of Egypt, and who I fear I may never see again.

Comments from expats:
“….understand it’s normal to go through an adjustment period. Read about the emotions you may experience while you go through culture shock and know it will get better with time and that it happens to everyone. Also, don’t expect your experience to be “textbook” or exactly the same chronologically as others have described. I think one stage that may not be mentioned often is just feeling “numb” or like you are in shock. Just try to go with the flow, have an open mind, and don’t freak out over the negative aspects of your new culture. Try to put it in perspective and imagine yourself as a stranger seeing some of the not so great aspects of American culture for the first time, and maybe that will help you get through your own adaption process.” (Morocco)

“I think that one of the best things you can do is to immerse yourself into the culture and embrace it. Learn its subtleties and grow with it. Just as you wouldn’t want someone from another county coming to your doorstep to impose their culture on you. You shouldn’t expect people of another to want to have you impose yours on them.” (Costa Rica)

And from a survey of expat experiences:
“While there are many benefits to moving abroad, the most commonly cited benefits relate to personal development rather than financial gain. 81% of expats believe broadening their horizons and gaining life experience is the most important benefit of becoming an expat. A better quality of life was cited by two-thirds (66%) of expats as the key benefit to relocating. In comparison, career development (60%) and financial wealth (55%), while still important benefits for expats, were largely cited as being less crucial than life experience opportunities.”
Expat Explorer 2010 Survey

TWO EXCITING EXHIBITIONS – not in Siwa, you can go to these in London, UK and in Sydney, Australia

For those interested in exploring an aspect Egyptian / Islamic life, an exhibition on the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, at the British Museum in London. For those not in the UK or passing through, there will be plenty of information and pictures on the Museum website during the exhibition http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/hajj.aspx

Australians should watch out for an exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, expected to open in May 2012. I will again post information on this closer to opening, and you can watch the Powerhouse website for more. Faith, Fashion, Fusion: Muslim Women’s style in Australia will be on display for 6 months. In brief: The past decade has seen increasing numbers of Australian Muslim women expressing their faith and identities through dress and this in turn has contributed to rising debate and controversy around Muslim dress practices. Faith, Fashion, Fusion explores Muslim women’s fashion in Australia today, challenging Western media representations of Muslim women’s clothing as oppressive and disempowering and demonstrating that faith and fashion are not incompatible. The exhibition will show that Muslim women dress in diverse styles and are engaged with local and global fashion trends which they adapt to suit their personal style and Islamic values.
The exhibition will feature a new generation of emerging designers, retailers and communicators who are responding to the growing body of Muslim women who want to express their faith and also dress stylishly. It includes a street fashion shoot; inspired by fashion bloggers this will feature photographs of fashionable Muslim women on the streets of Sydney capturing their everyday styles.

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