Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tunis, alHamdulilah


Sonia, Florian et moi à l'hôtel in Nabeul


Snapshot of the Tunisian "paysage" en voiture


When I arrived in Tunis I had no idea where to go, what to do, and my 3 semesters of Arabic I already knew would get me nowhere. Thank Allah, friendly AIESECers were there to pick me up from the airport! They brought me to my apartment in the center of the city to drop off my things and then we went for a coffee (قهوة I believe is the correct spelling in Arabic, according to the menu) and there I met my roommates for 3 months, other AIESECers from around the world. The sweetest Brazilian girl, Débora; a French-German, Florian; a quebecoise-française, Sonia; and a "regular?" Canadian (and by that I mean from english-speaking Canada), Ora. We speak a mixture of French French, Canadian French, German, American English, broken English, and Portuguese. And... I love my new mixed family. Someone has pictures on their camera of all of us, but I'll have to do some searching.

CAMELS! (duh, its the Arab world)

The Tunisians are all so welcoming and friendly. My "buddy" if that is the appropriate term who is somewhat specifically in charge of making sure that I am acclimated to my new life and feeling welcome, etc. is Belha (bel HHH a, with that strong Arabic H) and is amazing. They are all, very welcoming, and have spent countless hours with us both as personal helpers and as friends just chatting, showing us around, getting us phones, household items, bringing us to and from work, showing us where to get groceries, everything. Belha is especially great and I'm reallycomfortable with him already and I think he is the same with us. 

Delicious tunisian food


It's really fun/difficult to move between French and English all day, and speaking mostly English and some French with Ora, an even mixture of the two with Sonia, whose English is good but not great (not that my French is great, though, so no judgement), English with Florian because his French is great, but as a German, his English is exception for not being his native language, and a strang melange with Débora because she came to Tunis knowing almost no English OR French and by now has picked up a mixture of the two so that some things are easier to explain to her in English and some in French.

Débora, one of my new roomies, at the entrance to the Nabeul Fair

The second day after arriving all of the trainees (with the Tunisian AIESECers of course) packed up and went to a small nearby town called Naebel for an AIESEC conference, which at first I was reluctant for being exhausted and disoriented from switching lives from being an American in Paris to a white person in general in Arab Tunisia ;) It was great tho afterall, and I met about 30 AIESEC people from two LC's in Tunisia and by day the 5 trainees explored the city and at night we did the usual, some drinking (tho DEFINITELY not as much as in the States), some dancing, and some mingling. On Sunday we left the conference and heading back to Tunis to finish installing ourselves in the city (cleaning, unpacking, shopping, bonding, etc.) and getting a good night of sleep for our first days of work on monday! (Which I will write about in my next post... but since I'm there now I can say is AWESOME!)