“There is no substitute for the riches gained on a lifetime basis by the young American who studies or works abroad.” —Letitia Baldrige
I believe this quote is true, and one of my lifelong dreams has always been to work and live abroad for a period of time. Don’t get me wrong; I love living in Ohio, but I’ve always yearned to work and live somewhere far away from home so I could get totally immersed in the culture, the people, the food, and the arts. Even though the culture, people, and food in Los Angeles were totally foreign to me at times, I guess my three-year stint there was not far enough, and I’m still hankering for that job offer in Paris (hey, a girl can dream).
I recently met a smart, funny, and amazing woman who is living my dream by working in a foreign country. Kim Fox is from northeast Ohio and was enjoying a successful career in radio journalism and as a college professor when she happened upon a job opportunity as a journalism professor at The American University in Cairo. Intrigued, she applied for the job, not thinking about what it would be like to uproot and move to Cairo; rather, she went in with the attitude of “I’ve got to win it to get it, so I’ll deal with the Cairo part later if I get the job.”
She got the job.
At the time she had a coveted position with the NPR affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, so making the choice of staying or going was not easy. Can you say career dilemma and major life decision all rolled into one? She made the decision to go to Cairo and has had an amazing year teaching journalism to Egyptian students (a bit of a challenge in a country that does not grant journalistic freedom) and exploring this beautiful country.
I got the chance to talk to Kim about her experience and really enjoyed our conversation. She assured me that the transition to life in the Middle East was easy because she did her research and went in with an open mind. She has never felt threatened or that she was being treated poorly as an American in the Middle East. The biggest hurdle has been the language barrier, and although all of the students and faculty are well-traveled and English-speaking, it has been difficult conversing off campus with those who only speak Arabic. The university has provided her with a complimentary Arabic tutor, and she is picking up the language.
She teaches two days a week, has office hours and meets with students outside of those times by appointment, which has left Kim ample time for traveling. Because the cost of travel is inexpensive, Kim has had the opportunity to visit Luxor and the White Desert, hiked to the top of Mt. Sinai (which took eight hours round-trip), gone sandboarding in Siwa, and saw the pyramids in Cairo, to name a few.
Back in Akron for the summer, Kim recently wrote a blog about the 5 Things I Miss About Cairo, like the fact that you can get anything you want delivered in Cairo—a nice café latte, medicine, or dinner—it’s all available right at your door. She also loves the fact that it never gets below 60 degrees in the winter (and who wouldn’t?). If you want to read more about her life in Cairo, please check out this blog.
When Kim gets back to the resort-like campus, it will be Ramadan, a major Islamic holiday and one that involves fasting all day. Kim told me that if you think students have a hard time paying attention in class, try teaching them when they haven’t eaten.
Talking to Kim really motivated me to go after my dreams of living and working abroad. What better way to combine my passion for travel with the need to work and support myself? Now I just need to figure out a good gig and how to talk my husband into going along for the ride. I’ll keep you posted on both fronts.
If you would like more information about Kim, she has two blogs; on one she writes about her passion for hip-hop music—http://indyhiphopworld.blogspot.com—and the other is about a variety of topics, current events, and her roaming life—http://radiogirlradiogirl.blogspot.com.
Kim is definitely a woman who rocks, and I’m glad to know her!
Tags: Cairo, college professor, Egypt, hip hop, journalism, Kim Fox, live abroad, Luxor, Middle East Travel, Mt. Sinai, Ramadan, Siwa, The American University in Cairo, Traveling, traveling abroad, Women Who Rock!, work abroad