This past weekend was commencement. And even though my thesis defense was more than a month ago, Saturday's events made everything official.
Graduation days are almost always happy times. For me, this weekend's ceremonies were especially special as my parents came from the US for the events, and I was joined in celebration by some of my very close friends. The following day, we had a small get-together at my apartment to which many of those people who have made my time in Cairo so unforgettable came together to share in the moment. So all around this weekend was one of the more memorable times I've had in recent years.
That said, the weekend wasn't only celebratory. Sitting in the audience and watching the professors process, seeing the joy and excitement of all of my fellow graduates, and thinking forward, I couldn't help but to reflect on the next step in my journey. Finishing up this portion of my academic career and already knowing what my plans are for the coming years, I am excited to begin the next phase of things. That said, it is also the end of another phase of my life, one which started over six years ago when I moved to Cairo. At that time, I had no intentions to enter academia but only hoped to learn more about the region and study a little Arabic. My life has changed dramatically since then. And now, at this new transition, I wonder what the next few years have in store for me beyond those things which I have planned.
As a last note, today I visited with one of my two PhD advisors, Nicolas Michel, and received my letter of introduction for Dār al-Wathā'iq (Egypt's archives). This coming week I'll be paying the archives a visit and beginning to request the Ottoman court records, which I need to begin my doctoral research. Having already visited the archives in the past, but never for this purpose or goal, and knowing how Egypt's bureaucratic machine works, the experience should be quite interesting. Expect a post soon!