The intern house where I am staying has a pharmacy, café and a convenience store below. The walls and stairs of the apartment building´s lobby look dusty and worn out from time and the dry climate.
“I wonder if the place is like this due to the revolution,” I thought.
We walked into the apartment, and I saw a dirty kitchen, a big, dirty dining table, several couches and mattresses on the floor.
“Wait! What?” I thought.
I discovered that I would be sharing sleeping quarters and two bathrooms with 16 other people. Thankfully, the apartment has two floors, yet all rooms and beds were taken. I spotted a pink, comfy-looking mattress on the living room floor.
“OK, I guess this will be my room,” I thought.
I realized that I was on the other side of the world in a house full of people I do not know and sleeping on the floor.
“How the hell am I going to survive this?” I thought.
That was one week ago. Since then, 10 more people have moved into the apartment. That means we are now 27 international students sharing a two-floor apartment, a small kitchen with few utensils and lots of food stains, two dirty bathrooms and a few mattresses on the floor.
Welcome to my room and my new roommates´. (Iphone photo)
Although it may sound crazy, I am enjoying the experience. We are a small family that has grown in just a couple of days. We alternate kitchen and bathroom use; we eat together; we play together; we drink together; we travel and explore Cairo together; we get lost on taxi rides together; and we respect each other in every way.
We are very international; students are from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine and United States. We brought food and drink from our country, so I have tried different Indian dishes such as paneer butter masala, chole, rajma, palak paneer and dal makhani. Those interns came prepared!
I have had mini-Spanish and photography lessons with my roommates; I have also learned about the culture in India and the religion of Jainism, and differences among the cultures. For example, Jerry, a Chinese roommate, says that if a person arrives 30 minutes late to a meeting, the other person has left by then. On the other hand, Egyptians routinely run one hour or more after the appointed time.
The fact that all of us are in the same position has made us very comfortable with each other. We flew across the world and arrived to the same accommodation surprise. Plus, we were ready to work on our chosen projects; however, almost all of our internships have not started or have had problems. We are adapting to the circumstances and exploring Cairo.