Yay! My devious plan to make Egyptians be friends with me is working... I hope.
First, let me explain something. Among many of the international students there's already "common knowledge" about how things work here. You see, on first glance it seems like the Egyptian students don't want anything to do with the international students--maybe some of them don't. And I will admit, the obvious tight-knit groups that pretty much ALL the Egyptians are in seem impenetrable. BUT, I have observed that Egyptians are not unfriendly like some of the mythology (circulated among American study-abroad kids) would suggest.
I admit it. I was almost sucked into that unfortunate mindset (that the Egyptian students just won't be friends with foreigners). But I also thought it seemed really ridiculous to go all the way to Egypt and then only come home with stories of all the American friends I had made in el-Misr (Egypt).
So-- I came up with Operation FREND (Force the Reserved Egyptians to kNow the Duncan).
I decided that it was, in fact, pretty intimidating just walking up to one of the closed-off circles of Egyptian students that form along the corridors on campus. And most of the Egyptian students come to class, immediately sit with friends, and then quickly leave together once class is over. How, then, was I to woo these people and make them talk to me?
Then my evil plan came to me, and Operation FREND was a go.
The bus. It's perfect! Every single morning I ride the bus 40 minutes to campus, and every afternoon I look forward to another hour-or-so trip back to my stop in Maadi. I decided that whenever possible I would try to sit next to an Egyptian girl. No escaping me.
Thus far my shameless bid for new friends has been a success. One-on-one interactions are far less intimidating, AND I've found that Egyptians are really willing to build new friendships. By the second time you see a new friend, it seems expected that two girls will kiss one another, once on each cheek. You have no idea how excited I was when one of my Bus Friends got on the bus the day after I'd met her and greeted me with an excited "Caitlin!" and the cheek kisses. I felt like I was "in." Or on the fringes of "in." Plus, this whole greeting thing happened in front of another girl I was talking to in a bid for FRENDship. The kiss-kiss thing probably gave me more Egyptian street cred :)
This coming weekend, I'm going shopping with a girl I met last week. And another new friend and I have met up between classes just to hang out.
Wish me luck in making new friends!