PhD Got You Down? Try CASA!

Cairo, Egypt

Quote of the Day

I feel for you…this PhD seems like such a joke compared to the CASA workload…here I actually get to sleep!
– Ilaria Giglioli

I was complaining on Facebook today about the impossible volume of homework we get every night here in CASA, and my friend Ilaria from the CASA summer semester offered her sympathies. And it did make me feel much better: like I’m not such a wuss to be overwhelmed, and like feeling like a CASA failure needn’t preclude the possibility of doing a doctoral program in the future.

‘Failure?’ you’re thinking. ‘Surely you exaggerate!’ In the most technical sense, it’s true. I can only think of two or three days when I finished all the homework assigned for the day … and in all those instances, I had only managed to finish because I forgot several of the assigned tasks!

On the other hand, when I work 6 to 10 hours per day on homework and still don’t finish it all, that’s hardly a failure! It’s merely a decision I’ve made that getting to sleep at midnight is more important than finishing all my assignments. What good does my homework do me if I’m too tired to discuss it in class the next day? Or too run-down and stressed to enjoy a drink with friends on a Thursday night?

I guess I’m still trying to find my balance between getting the work done and maintaining my sanity!

On the other hand, I’m coming to understand more and more just what an amazing opportunity this is. Whether it’s other expats I meet here in Cairo, or friends of friends I’m being put in touch with over Facebook, it seems that anyone interested in the Middle East knows about CASA, and is in awe of its Fellows. It’s odd to find someone who studies Arabic or lives here and doesn’t know about CASA … and even odder to say to people, “It’s supposed to be one of the best Arabic language programs anywhere.” I feel like I’m bragging, particularly since I don’t feel like I’m a very good representative of the program, but it’s the truth! And I try to remind myself of that instead of berating myself for the homework I don’t have time to finish!

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