I am a 22-year-old journalism student at Florida International University who is spending six weeks traveling in Egypt thanks to AIESEC, a student-run organization that creates internships around the world.
I am visiting Egypt´s historical sights and documenting what I see and learn during my time here. This blog shares those experiences.
This is my first adventure to the other side of the world by myself. A few months ago, I would have never thought about taking this trip. Ever since I moved to Miami four years ago from Mexico, my mind was focused only on returning to my home country whenever I had the chance.
Thanks to a friend, I changed my point of view and decided to travel. I closed my eyes and trusted AIESEC to take me to the hidden Egyptian beauties.
Arriving at Cairo International Airport, I was wary about how to obtain an entry visa. I am used to the long lines and heavy packet of documents that must be updated and revised many times at customs when arriving in the United States. On the contrary, obtaining a visa in Egypt was the easiest thing ever.
First, I walked toward a local bank inside the airport, paid $15, and received a stamp which must be pasted on one of my passport´s pages. I was unaware of this process, so the customs officer made a joke about my ignorance and handed me my entry pass.
The visa and the luggage process were actually very simple and fast, something I did not expect. As I passed the big glass doors that separate the travelers and the people waiting to pick up arrivals, I anxiously searched for any familiar faces. All I saw were signs in Arabic and a few lost glances.
“Please, let there be someone picking me up from here,” I thought to myself.
I pushed my heavy, gray luggage with my camera bag on top and walked slowly as I desperately looked for someone from AIESEC.
Two young men who were talking to each other approached me. It took me a few seconds to recognize the faces from their Facebook photos: Hussein, the student who matched me with the program, and Omar, the reception manager at Cairo University. I smiled.
“Welcome to Egypt!” they said.
Once in the car, the air was cool so we drove with the windows down as we headed to the intern house in Nasr City.
Being in a car with an Egyptian at the wheel is a small roller coaster ride except that no one wears a seat belt. Car lanes do not exist; stop signs and traffic lights are nowhere to be seen, and cars play a horn symphony as they cut in front of other vehicles. I was glad to be off the road when we arrived at the apartment building that would be my home for the internship.