23 February 2018

CHANGE: Inception into the real world


Student life at AUC (Photo: AUC)

I graduated over two years ago and I’m still struggling to make sense of the real world.

University was my comfort-zone. My friends were like me; we had the same interests and hailed from the same background. I went to the prestigious American University in Cairo where everything and everyone was a walking advert of Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Porsches were parked in front of the main gate and we had flavoured lattes on campus. My favourite flavour was Irish Cream and my second favourite was vanilla if you should know.

Yes, I used to drink flavoured latte and discuss Isabel Allende. I have to admit, I was a bit of a cliché. The spoiled kid, a pseudo-intellectual, excited about the prospects of getting a job, but too worried about managing her own finances in the “real world”

On Thursday I stayed on campus after my classes. Our auditorium was turned into a cinema hall and we had the chance to watch all the new movies from Hollywood for free.

Really, you just had to show them your ID.

Armed with a number of witty comments, we would head to a café and discuss the movie over lattes. I used to go for a cinnamon latte at Costa, the one with floating marshmallows.

Sometimes, our conversations shifted and we talked about the real world. In a few years, we would be graduates, getting our post-graduate degrees and getting real jobs. We talked about graduation; we claimed to be ready to graduate.

I graduated and it hit me.

University didn’t prepare me for the real world. I’m still shocked, dumb-founded. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea.

When I began this piece, I was interning at a mine-action NGO and my boss was demanding that I have breakfast with them. It was 12 pm and they were eating fish.

I’m typing rapidly and drinking a lot of juice. Later that day, I would find out that the juice had passed its expiry date. I would find that out when my stomach started doing all kinds of twists and turns and had to ask the Raksha driver to speed to a cafe.

After the cafe, I would walk to the newspaper where I worked at the time and reminisce about my university days.

Once upon a time, in the comfort of AUC, we were told we were special. Our parents paid large amounts of money for us to receive quality education. We speak good English and we have a number of extra-curricular activities to brag about. When we graduate, we will get a job in the blink of an eye. Oh how I miss university; the feeling of being unique, well-educated and privileged. The feeling that nothing is out of our reach. You just have to take a deep breath and reach for it.

As I sit at my desk in Khartoum Two. I reminisce about flavoured lattes and an overpriced Twix tart. I can smell onions as I climb the stairs to my office (above a traditional foods restaurant) and I start thinking to myself: maybe this is how the real world smells, different, but at times, challenging.

2 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply to Aya Cancel reply

  • Sara Yacoub
    1 June 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

    incredible article touch a real life twist of many of us struggling now to keep their funds out of running until the end of months after long term spoiling life. So productive to share like these ideas that reflect our determination to make it through our own abilities in the real world.
    and so happy too to make the first comment

  • Aya
    1 June 2012 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    i can really relate to your article

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