Study Abroad, At Home

For New York archaeology students, a planned semester studying ruins in Egypt turned into a round trip back to Manhattan

Moadel-Attie, though, who can remember saying at age 5 that she wanted to become an Egyptologist, found the classes a poor substitute for digging in an ancient city. “I was excited to be a part of the discovery, because you always see the discovery on TV and you experience it through someone else’s experience,” she says. “This was the first time I’d be able to partake in the adventure myself.” A month after the group returned from New York, she withdrew from the program. But she has remained in contact with members of the Egyptian staff, and expressed her solidarity with the protesters in posts on Facebook.

Though he says of Egypt, “I definitely wish I was still there,” Thompson-Pomeroy’s disappointment has also been offset by feelings of solidarity. “My expectations—what I believed was possible in terms of unrest in the Middle East—were completely changed,” he says.

It’s a lesson that informed his next move. While decompressing in Columbia housing, Thompson-Pomeroy enrolled in another study abroad program in Istanbul that hadn’t started yet. Later in February, he flew to Turkey, where he’s now learning Turkish from scratch.

He considered going to another Arabic-speaking country where he could use his existing language skills, he says, but decided against it: “Being evacuated twice in one semester abroad would not be an experience I’d like.”

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Freedom will arrive in North Africa when every Mosque has a Coke or Pepsi machine, their profits will be the salary of the Imam. Koran and prayer rugs will be manufactured in the US and the American National Anthem sung before services begin. No longer will dictators tell people what to do, they now will have a choice between Coke and Pepsi.

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