Thursday evening had a different feel than I could remember since the protests began.
The day had started out the same. The people were gathering at Tahrir Square to protest against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The news was running non-stop in the lobby downstairs in the dormitory and I was going about my business as usual.
As the day progressed, however, I could feel a shift in the mood; there was something in the air. The evening had produced rumors Mubarak indeed would be stepping down.
People believed, actually believed, the end of his reign was nearing its final hours. I had just come back from dinner around 8 p.m. and tried to fill myself in on what the latest happenings were.
I was told Mubarak was set to speak about two hours later. So, I waited.
Everyone was glued to the television. I could only help to imagine this was the same situation all across the city, aside from those who were at Tahrir. Millions and millions of people crowding around any television they could find in hopes that their dreams would be coming true that very evening.
10 o'clock came and went and still nothing. So we waited. I believe it was roughly 40 minutes later that I saw the president making his long-awaited speech. I couldn't understand most of what he was saying because, for obvious reasons, we were watching the Arabic channel. I had to wait for one of my friends to give me a translation.
I could tell the speech starts out just like most, talk about the goals of the country, the service you wish to provide, the importance of this and that.
Then, Mubarak stopped reading from his notes and looked directly into the camera. I knew, here it comes, and he spoke and the speech ended. But, I did not hear the applause that I was expecting. I knew the most important thing had not been said.
Mubarak was not stepping down. I asked my friend what all had been said, and he told me the vice president would be taking over most powers while Mubarak holds his title. I thought, well, that isn't so bad. I have read in the news for days this might happen.
It wasn't until after watching the follow-up coverage until I realized how angry Egyptians were. This time, they weren't just mad, they were furious. Again and again and again, Mubarak has proved his unwillingness to leave office.
The more times he has disappointed the populace, the higher their demands have become. I heard from many people, "When will he just realize that it's over?"
That is a good question.
This last week, I thought the demonstrations were losing impact and momentum. I thought, maybe Mubarak will be able to hold out long enough for the people to give up.
I was completely wrong.
Not only were more people showing up to the demonstrations every day, but - especially after his speech - Mubarek has only stoked the fire. These demonstrations will not end until he is gone.
We have been shown time and time again the resolve of the Egyptian people, and they are not yet satisfied. There is only one goal, and I do not think any number of concessions or promises will sway the people. Mubarak must leave.
I am certainly not the person to ask, what will happen next? All I can do is watch. Who will take control? I hear the people do not want Vice President Omar Suleiman to take control long term, and Mohamed ElBaradei certainly will not be getting his name called to be president.
The Muslim Brotherhood does not have enough public support to take control of the government, either. I would much rather not even speculate.
I will just be watching closely how the next week turns out, and the next week, and so on. The Egyptian people know what they want, and I wish them all the steadfast speed in establishing a government they can trust again.
Tim Larsen, a 2010 graduate of Tiffin University, is studying at American University in Cairo's Arabic Language Institute.
Editor's note: Mr. Larsen had just filed the above column with us Friday morning - Friday afternoon in Cairo - when news began trickling out that President Hosni Mubarek had stepped down. Larsen then filed this addendum:
- - -
What a change! Not a single person was expecting this to happen. I had just got done reading on the Internet that Mubarak had left the city of Cairo and went to Sharm El Sheikh. I was about to head downstairs to grab some food and all of a sudden I'm hearing people yelling and screaming.
Once I made 100-percent sure Mubarak had resigned, I felt so happy for Egypt. My friends and I all met downstairs and started walking around the streets. We made our way over Mohandessen (another part of the city). We walked along the highway overpasses and around some other squares. Houses and buildings were starting to empty, Egyptians filled the streets carrying flags, chanting, greeting and hugging each other - even making a point to go and shake hands with the military personnel who are present in the streets.
Cars everywhere had a person or two or even four hanging out of the windows, honking and waving more flags. This is happiness I have not seen since coming here. Just watching the television feed of Tahrir Square and seeing the quarter of a million people celebrating was unreal.
Tomorrow will be a new day for the people of Egypt. I am proud of them. We should all be proud. I hope that tomorrow the protestors will leave Tahrir and go home to their families, return back to work. This city is truly alive right now.