Less than a week away. With everything planned for me, I started to focus on task #1: learn some of the language. A big surprise to me, they happened to have the Pimsleur short course for Egyptian Arabic at the local library. I happily threw myself into the course with abandon and started lesson 7 today. For anyone traveling, Pimsleur is a great alternative to memorizing flashcards. Focusing on conversational fluency and listening comprehension, the idea is to stop you from feeling like an idiot when faced with a native speaker by providing a lot of practice, short response times, and phrases that are useful to anyone travelling either for business or pleasure.
This is my third Pimsleur course, and I am a huge fan. For those who wish to delve deep into a language and work towards fluency, the three-course program is for you. This is what I used when I learned Italian. Thirty minutes per lesson, it was done easily on the way to and from work. Not knowing any Italian, but being familiar with another romance language, I can say that it was a great step into the language, one I have followed up with written exercises. I also took the three-step course for German, but as a refresher. It works great in this capacity for those of us who took a language in high school but have had little to no opportunity to practice. As for Egyptian Arabic, there isn't enough time to learn the script, but I can happily report that I know how to ask for some coffee, say hello and goodbye, and say that I don't speak Egyptian Arabic well. That's a great start.
One of the best things about learning some of the native language before travelling is that when you travel internationally, you're a diplomat for your country. You may be the only person from your country these people ever encounter, and you want their lasting impression to be a good one. Taking the time to at least learn greetings, and how to say thank you, will cause a great first impression, and may possibly make you some friends that you will have for a long time to come.
Check out the Pimsleur website here:
Also, take time to visit your local library. They just might have the language for you.