Correspondence from Canada: Letter 35 - 09.03.82
Copyright holder(s): Name withheld
Tues 9. March.
Dear Mum & Dad,
It was good to hear you on the phone on Sunday. It's funny to think of daffodils and snowdrops at home when there's still about 12ft of snow piled up at points round the Maggie. The temperature this morning was about -11°C, but in general it's getting milder and the days are certainly getting lighter - it's only been getting dark in the last ½ hour and it's now 7.40pm! But dark falls quickly.
I received your letter with Uncle Bruce's comments on "Operation Lawrence of Arabia" yesterday, so I may as well repeat my answers to his remarks and your questions.
i) Travel. I'm not sure if restrictions on travel operate in Egypt, which is relatively westernized, as they do in other Middle Eastern countries. Egypt still has a strong pro-Western government in power and relies particularly on the U.S. for economic & military aid. Tourism, too, is a "civilising" factor. Even if restrictions do exist, I haven't planned to do any extensive travel in Egypt. Let's face it, I've hardly been out of Fredericton since I've been here!
ii) Culture shock. I expect this, and I'll try to be as prepared for it as I can, eg by being as fit as I can be before I go, and reading up on Egypt, talking to Egyptians etc. I don't want to go in blind, as it were, and I want to be able to handle the physical stress at least. Cairo, again, is a cosmopolitan city - Greeks, Arabs, Europeans, Americans can all be found there, and it is more westernised than most Mid-East cities. Students of the AUC wear Calvin Klein designer jeans, according to one Observer article. It's a city of contrasts, sure, but it's not all medieval saracen culture by far.
There are obviously anti-American factions in Egypt, and Muslim fundamentalists in most of the Mid-East. They probably killed Sadat with the hope of establishing an Iran-type theocracy. However, in general Egypt is the most pro-American of all the Mid-East states and President Mubarak seems set to keep things that way. Furthermore, according to newspaper reports Mubarak (whose children go to the American Univ.) is an extremely sensible and shrewd leader, and he is more popular with the common people than Sadat. Mubarak is obviously set on renewing ties with the other Arab states, so instability in Egypt looks a lot less likely now than it has for some time.
I could go on: I've been doing my homework, and I know more about the Middle East now than I've ever known. I'm not saying it's going to be easy to adjust - it's not. But Carole is determined to go (and she knows more about it than me) and I'd rather be with her. And I believe the experience will be good for me - at least it's the chance of a lifetime (if things work out) and I very much want to take it. Don't worry about me - this natural coward isn't about to drop himself in a war zone! The main problem will definitely be adjusting to a different culture, and there being part of the AUC with its counselling experience and resources can only be good. Anyway, all this talk is academic until I'm actually offered a place. If I'm offered a place my mind's made up - I'm going. I've made this clear to my supervisor, Dr. [CENSORED: surname]. I'll know - or should - by May what's going on.
Otherwise the Charlie Atlas Muscle-Building Course begins in earnest tomorrow!! I've bought myself some gym-shorts and tomorrow Stacy's starting me on a fitness programme. (Smelling-salts, please!) He's going to fitness-test me, and I'll do a stationary-cycle session at least 3 times a week. This, he tells me, will improve my leg muscles and do my cardiovascular system no end of good. I won't tire myself out because after tomorrow he'll know where to start me off and build up my strength. You know, I'll start off pedalling for 4 seconds, build it up to 6, and so on.
I got a letter from Alex [CENSORED: surname], the little redheaded Aussie who sped off home last November. He's home starting his course again at Australia's National Univ., after trekking across N. America, helping build a house in a religious commune, and skiing in the Rockies. What a guy. He's now plunging into Environmental Law with the enthusiasm of a tubercular Romantic and he's joined Friends of the Earth. He sent me a postcard of Canberra, too: it looks very nice.
Well, the curling starts next week - I'm hoping to go see Scotland v. Canada in the opening match. And the Beach Boys are coming to Moncton - I'm trying to decide whether to afford to go see them. I'd quite like to see a legend, even if they are over the hill. If I go on like this, though, my tax rebate will be spent before I get it! Hope you're all well and Al's better. I sent her a letter a week or so ago. My usual wishes to all.
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Correspondence from Canada: Letter 35 - 09.03.82. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 3 December 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=883.
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