Eerste indruk van Cairo: door onze stagiaire Fanny Hovers
Never having been abroad for much longer than three weeks consecutively, coming to Egypt for well over five months is quite the adventure for me. My enthusiasm and excitement was not shared by all those around me back in Holland. “You’re going to Cairo, all alone? That seems dangerous, there are as many people living in Cairo as Flanders and the Netherlands combined!”
Nonetheless, I was determined. Yet when my bags were packed, my vaccination bruises had faded, my student room was sublet – when I had no more preparations to fuss over – I couldn’t help but feeling nervous. Very nervous. In my mind I was going over all the well-meant pieces of advice. “Don’t swim in the Nile,” “be careful with what you eat,” “peel it, boil it, or forget it,” and the list goes on.
However, on my first morning in Cairo I would quickly learn that I had nothing to worry about. That is, until I got lost. I did believe I had made it to the island of Zamalek – where the NVIC is located – in one piece. Yet the streets seemed like a maze and I felt like I would never reach the institute. In the best Arabic I could muster – which, in truth, is no more than a strange mix of standard Arabic, what I believe is Egyptian dialect and jibberish - I asked people for directions. My worries soon subsided, as many people seemed to know exactly where I needed to go. “The Dutch-Flemish Institute, you say?” “Oh yes, you take the first left, then right, then left again.” So off I went, confidently strutting towards the institute. Or so I thought. It quickly became clear that I had been sent on a wild goose chase. My Egyptian flat mate would later explain to me that people are so eager to help one another that they’d rather have a guess than tell you they don’t know the answer.
This pretty much sums up how I’ve come to know life in Cairo so far. It’s a massive city with a curious sense of small town friendliness. Let’s see what else is in store, because at the end of the day it seems that if you want to know the city like the back of your hand, you first have to get lost in it. And if you want to learn Egyptian dialect your first have to make an idiot out of yourself in broken Fosha, and luckily I have found that there will be many friendly Egyptians who are more than willing to help.