Peace be upon y’all!
I know I have seem to gone off the radar for several weeks by now. If you are wondering if it was due to a prolonged illness, it wasn’t truly the case. That time, I wrote that I was suffering from a flu that left me weakened over the week. However, the week after that, I mostly recovered and I was back on my feet as usual. Of course, by then I wanted to write more for this blog, however I really felt that this month has been one of the busiest months I ever went through in my IB course. In this post, I will be giving a rundown of what I do each week nowadays and my plans for the end of this month.
Before going further, allow me to announce something really important: I will be travelling to Turkey tomorrow! Currently I am having a school midterm holiday for five days (this Friday until next week Wednesday) so to make the most of this short period, we decided to spend time in one of Turkey’s most beautiful coastal resort cities: Antalya!
We are staying there for three nights and four days, returning to Cairo on Monday. Since the weather is not exactly ideal for swimming in the seaside (it’s still rather chilly right now), we plan to visit a number of historical and archaeological sites in and around the city. Apparently there are lots of Greek, Roman and Ottoman attractions to visit to, and my mother told me that the archaelogical museum there is one of the best in the country. Needless to say, I am very excited to visit Turkey again and I am sure it will be the best visit I’ll ever have this year!
I had very little free time to do whatever I’d like to do this month. Everything at home just got a whole lot more chaotic since my family driver quit his job, so my mother had to do all the sriving and errands, as well as housekeeping. Any free time I had left over from not doing homework for school was to help my mum cleaning the dishes, hanging and washing clothes and getting the rubbish out of the house. To be honest, things like these are a burden for me, since I want a whole lot mor time for myself on my computer doing the hobbies I enjoy, but in life, there are things we have to prioritise, especially when it comes to your parents.
What do I do every week after school?
There are also a ton of school-related issues I have to deal with as well. Almost every day on every week, I had to attend some kind of after school activity over the past four weeks. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the school weekdays here in Egypt. On Sunday, I have swimming training that lasts from 3 o’clock in the evening to 5. I get home at around quarter past time, if my parents are early. If not, I end up getting home later than half-past, when the sun sets here. Obviously I come back exhasuted after swimming training, my legs sore with all the kicking and propelling, so after having dinner, I would try to finish whatever homework I have and sleep early to wake up early in the morning. If I don’t finish homework that night, what I tend to do is that I wake up at around 5 o’clock in the morning to finish any remaining pieces of work before showering and having breakfast before school.
Mondays are supposed to be my ‘off’ days, when I don’t actually have a scheduled ECA (extracurricular activity) sanctioned by the school. However, there was this one time where I had to attend a talk about the IELTS exam from British Council representatives here in Egypt. There I was introduced to what are the exams and what purpose they serve for people who are applying to universities. Basically, anyone who plans to apply to a university in an English-speaking country or an English-speaking university should take an English language test like the IELTS to prove your level of proficiency in the language. IELTS is just one of those tests, there are others like TOEFL and university-specific exams but I won’t go into detail about that. The exams test a person on their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The great thing about it is that you are not required to have high-level native-speaker proficiency to score a high grade. In fact, you can’t even fail the exam – you get numbers as your marks. If you can’t get the numbers required for uni, you could retake the IELTS however many times you want. With my English language skills, I believe that I can already score quite a high mark already. However, I don’t really know much about exam techniques as much, and this was explained in that IELTS talk I had that Monday. I plan to take the exam this year in April or May so that I could use it later to apply for university. The British Council holds regular exam sessions, which make it extra convenient for me to pick and choose the time most comfortable for me to do the exam. If you also plan to go to a university where English is a primary language, I really recommend you to take the IELTS. It’s really not that hard at all and if you are confident and fluent, it will be a piece of cheesecake (mmmm….)
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my ‘creative’ days. As part of the IB Diploma programme, I need to partake in activities which are outside of the school curriculum to show that I am a balanced person who spends all his time in front of textbooks all day and night. The IB does this by having what is called ‘Creative, Action, Service’, which are compulsory for all IB students. Failure to complete them will result in failure of the IB course as a whole. As a student, I have to choose an activity which fits in with the criteria of the three categories. ‘Creative’ activities are things that encourage you to develop life skills or academically-related skills that would be beneficial in helping a person’s learning process. On Tuesday, I attend a gardening ECA where we plant, grow and care for vegetable plants in the school’s own vegetable garden. It’s a pretty successful initiative for a CAS activity, as many students are eager to be part of it and together we have grown a variety of different vegetables and fruits. Our main crop is tomato, but we also grow a lot of rocket, beetroot, radishes, lettuce, kale, potatoes and herbs such as basil and thyme. We aim to grow food organically without using any chemical fertilisers or pesticides to promote and practice sustainable and eco-fiendly agriculture on a small scale. The harvests we make are not by truckloads, but we produce a fair amount of tomatoes every week enough for all of us to share and take home to enjoy on our dinner tables. 🙂
This new term, I started joining this ECA called the Model United Nations or MUN. It is actually a preparation ECA for preparing students to take part in what is called Model United Nations Conferences. These events are student-participated versions ofthe United Nations meetings, where students have to pretend to be delegates from different countries and work together to create resolutions to solve global issues today. Obviously the meetings are non-binding, and they aren’t actually supported by the real United Nations Organisation itself. Nevertheless, the conferences give a fantastic opportunity for students in secondary school to learn about diplomacy, international relations and current affairs affecting the turbulent planet which we call home. The emphasis of this ECA is on working to improve public speaking and research skills, as well as use of formal language skills meant for diplomatic use. I was already designated a country and I am set on attending my first MUN conference next month in another British school in Cairo. I am representing Belgium, and I have to work on creating and finalising a resolution to solve an issue of global importance as part of the Advisory Panel. Right now in the ECA, I am still gethring information to make sure that all of my points reflect Belgium’s domestic and foreign policies. The most embarassing mistake you can do in MUN conferences is to present your info that is completely wrong to how the country is like in real-life. I will do my best to avoid that and become a successful diplomat on the conference day, God-willing.
On Thursdays, I was meant to have Arabic-language tutor lessons when I get home for two hours. Unfortunately all classes have been cancelled for the month and I will begin again next month. This is because I had to attend special ECAs related to a very important event: the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Qualifiying Expedition to Cyprus. I would understand if you don’t have an idea what the heck that is. Basically it is an award meant for high-schoolers meant to show excellence in various fields, and part of getting that award is to go on an expedition trip somewhere. This school does theirs in Cyprus, where those taking part will do a few days of hiking and other meaningful activities based around our ‘expedition aim’. I am doing the Silver Award with several other guys from my year group, and all of us are going to Cyprus. We will be hiking in the wilderness of West Cyprus for 3 days and 2 nights, carrying our tents and backpack while doing so. We have to walk a minimum of 16 km a day, plus we have to plan our own routes as well as the food we’ll eat on the way. We need to be prepared for a lot of things before going, which is why our teachers made us do this ECA in the first place. We had 3 International Award ECAs on Thursday and 1 on Wednesday, explaining in great detail, the aim of the whole journey, necessary equipment and how to use them (like the camp-cooker), basic first aid, how to navigate using compasses, planning our routes for the journey and understanding the itinerary and flight details and so on. By now, we are pretty much ready for the trip as a group, and we all are extremely optimistic about it!
The flight to Cyprus will be exactly one week after the flight to Turkey. I feel blessed that this week, I am having a holiday to Turkey and on top of that, I will be enjoying my time with my friends in Cyprus the week after! I will be staying in Cyprus for much longer. The hike will only be for three days, but the stay in the island will be for one whole week, returning on the Friday on the week after. I will try to see if I can bring my laptop to Cyprus, because I really want to do some blogging there and upload photos of myself, my friends and the landcape around the island. For the Turkey trip, I can’t bring my laptop due to it being a very short trip anyway, plus my parents wouldn’t allow me to do it anyway. I will see if I have some time before I start school again on Wednesday. Hopefully I will have a chance to write a brief post as a summary for the Antalya trip.
That’s all folks for this time round! I hope it somehow makes up for all the time I’ve been off and I hope you will understand. Life is not easy when you have to do so many things when there are only so many hours in a day. I am freer this holiday because I only have one piece of homework, so I’ll try to post some more in the two remaining weeks of February. Thank you and have a great day, wherever you are!