By Monica Mikhail
I moved to the United States two years ago from Egypt and I was shocked because of people’s ideas about Egypt. They had great misunderstanding about Egypt and sadly about other cultures too.
The first misconception is where Egyptians live. It seemed to me that everyone asked me the same question, “Do you live in pyramids?” and the answer is NO. The pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World and you are not even allowed to go inside. Our style in living is different, as we mostly live in apartments, but our apartments are huge and they can even be more than five rooms.
The second misconception is how some people believe that King Tut is my grandfather and the answer is definitely a NO. It would be a huge honor to me to be his granddaughter, because then I would be the Queen of Egypt, but he was alive 7,000 years ago and that is why pharoahs are called “Ancient” Egyptian.
The third misconception is what we eat. I remember the first day that I went to school and I was standing in lunch line when someone came and told me, “Today is the day you will eat hamburger.” I was surprised and I didn’t even know how to react. Egypt, and as so many other countries in the world, has own cuisine but we still also eat food from all over the world. In fact, we have more restaurant chains in Egypt than in the United States.
The fourth misconception is how we go shopping. Believe me, people are crazy when it comes to shopping. We go shopping in our free time and we even have a mall that is called City Stars. It is eight stories high and full of most of the name brands that are here in the United States. We also have others that are popular in the Middle East and of course some local brands in Egypt.
The fifth misconception is why I am not a wearing a scarf over my head. Wearing a scarf is a religious thing, not Egyptian culture. Not all people who wear scarfs are Egyptian.
The sixth misconception is what are schools like. They are in no way even similar to schools here. Schools are so much smaller but there are more of them. We also don’t change schools, but you stay in the same school from preschool until you graduate, which I like because it allows you to have tons of friends and it really does feel as your second home. We also do get to change classes between each period, but rather the teacher comes to your class so you own your class and you get to stay with same people all day. By the end of the year you will have at least 25 best friends. And the most important thing, you don’t have to take PE and you can’t choose your classes, everyone has to take the same classes. Also we don’t take chemistry for a year but instead you take a little bit of chemistry, biology and physics every year and the same things apply for math and history too. Also we have to take two foreign languages instead of one.
The seventh misconception is that we transport with camels everywhere. We have the same car companies as the United States do. But you only can drive when you are eighteen.
The eighth misconception is that we speak Egyptian which is not even a language. We speak Arabic and most of Arabic regions countries have different accents, so the Arabic in Egypt is a little bit different in Arabic in Dubai.
The ninth misconception is Egypt is the desert. I believe that Egypt is more than blessed to have two big seas: Mediterranean and Red sea, it also has the longest river in the world, the Nile. It also has one lake and Suez Canal which is one of the two canals in the whole world. We also have the St. Katrin Mountains to hike and to camp. Also Egypt has one third of momentum in the whole world only in two cities city, Luxor and Aswan.
I hope that one day, people will really know the great country that I came from, because all my achievements since I came here were influenced by the things I was taught in Egypt and my values that I was raised upon.