10 Things You’ll Relate To If You’re An Egyptian Who Grew Up Abroad

1. Your accent will always be mocked


No matter how hard you try to get it right and say things the proper way, someone will find fault in whatever you say. Whether you grew up in the Arabian Gulf, Europe, Australia or the U.S., you’re bound to slip up and they’ll be ready to give you hell over it. Sometimes it isn’t just the accent, but specific words you grew up hearing from your friends or family that most people in Egypt don’t use. Expect an obligatory laugh and don’t expect to ever live it down.


2. People assume you know nothing about anything in the country

Picture 17

Maybe you didn’t read the exact same things in school or study the same histories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t know anything about Egypt or Egyptian pop culture. Thing is, it’s kind of difficult to explain that to people. People are shocked to realize that yes, you know who Ehab Tawfik is and you loved Mohammed Fouad growing up. They’re more astounded by any knowledge you might hold regarding old plays or you being familiar with Boogy & Tamtam as well as Fouad El-Mohandess.


3. You realize that Egyptians can be quite racist

Racist and sexist political cartoon from 2007, Al Ahram
“Egyptian humor”

When your thoughts about people from other ethnicities and religions are neutral, clearly there’s something wrong with you. Many Egyptians are unaware of this, but they can be quite racist, even though they claim by default to be anti-racism. Whether they’re mocking the African American friend you have in your photo, or the Asian kid you’re hugging, they have something to say, and it’s not necessarily nice. The amount of times you hear people praising Hitler is outstanding and the fact that they think the Jews deserved what they got horrifies you.


4. Your taste in anything is under scrutiny

Rock on

The fact that you like to eat sushi or read manga clearly makes you weird. Reading books in other languages and genres that aren’t that widespread makes you a snob. Wanting to go skydiving or bungee jumping means you’re crazy. Listening to rock or metal means you’re bound for hell and need to clean your ears.


5. You don’t understand the concept of ‘عزومة مركبية”

عزومة مركبية 2

When you ask cab drivers how much the ride costs and they tell you it’s on the house, at first it confuses you because the cab driver gets mad when you don’t pay. Later on, it just annoys you to no end. After all, why the ridiculous and time consuming bargaining when you can just get the exact price straight away?


6. You’re infuriated by the utter lack of respect for time

Just blame it on the traffic
Just blame it on the traffic

There’s time, then there’s time in an Egyptian timezone. Egyptians tend to be outrageously late to everything, which tends to make you want to blow a fuse. Whether it’s your professors in college, your friends for an outing or even your family for an important appointment. No one comes on time and you can’t understand how everyone seems to have so much disrespect to the value of time. That in turn translates to lack of work ethic – for everything.


7. You constantly ask yourself, “Is it safe?”

Crossing the street is an artform

Let’s ignore the fact that the country is a ticking time bomb at the moment, that’s not the only thing dangerous here. You’re always wondering whether the food you’re eating is safe. Or the water and juice you had earlier, did they really taste right? Is it safe to drive or cross the street? Because really, crossing the street here has become a form of art, you just have to be brave enough to do it.


8. You find out that being in college does not necessitate actual learning


After four years of college I am seriously contemplating going back again and doing it right. Just not in Egypt, ever. Whenever I tried using my brain or to love something, I did really bad at it. It took me a while to realize that the professors at university want you to be brainwashed and to not understand a thing about what you’re going to write in your exam, just that you are capable of reciting it all the exact way they want you to do it. This made my college life very difficult because I’m a big fan of using my brain.


9. Traffic is a mystery you’ll never solve


Ignoring the fact that there are minibuses and tok-toks everywhere, which – let’s face it – isn’t the right thing in a civilized country, there are many inexplicable facts about the road. First of all, there’s the constant mind-numbingly irritating traffic that seems to have absolutely no pattern.

Second of all, there are the drivers. My first year in Egypt, I was constantly stopping myself from screaming from the mad way everyone drove here. It was ridiculous and there was (is) no respect for any form of rules.

Third of all, there’s the presence of traffic lights. I can’t be the only one to have asked myself this question: Are they really necessary? Because it seems they’re there just for show.

Last but not least, how buses pick up their passengers. Which means a bus driver refusing to stop at the actual bus stop, but letting someone come on board on a freaking bridge.


Now, here’s one good thing in Egypt that should cheer you up:


10. You discover that everything delivers


And yes, that includes McDonald’s.


WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss “20 Things We Miss from Our Childhood“.