Culture Cafe: Egypt

Have you ever been to Africa? We can definitely say that we have! Great thanks to our ESN international student Robier Victor, who prepared an amazing program of the short trip to magnificent Egypt. Probably, most of you know some historical facts about ancient Egypt from school. But today we had such an amazing opportunity to discover new and modern Egypt with its historical and cultural features.

Where is it situated? What is the flag? What is the longest river and national historical heritage? Do you know all the answers? We’re sure, it wasn’t a big deal to find the right ones, but let’s check ourselves. Egypt is a country in the northeast corner of Africa, the flag is a horizontal tricolor (red, white, black) with a national emblem – the Egyptian eagle of Saladin. The longest river in the country is Nile, moreover, it’s one of the greatest rivers in the whole world! Talking about historical heritage, we can’t forget famous pyramids, the only one existent of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

After refreshing our memory, we moved forward to discovering new and modern Egyptian cities. First our stop was, of course, at Cairo. Imagine, you’re a tourist there and don’t know where to go and what to see. Don’t worry, now we know about some sights, for instance, the Cairo Tower. It’s used to be the tallest structure in Africa, and now it’s one of the well-known modern monuments, even sometimes considered as Egypt’s second most famous landmark after the pyramids. Another entertaining place to visit is the Cairo metro, the first underground system to be constructed in the Arab world. It’s really cheap and fast variant to get somewhere, but you hardly ever find a place as crowded as the Cairo metro. It’s very difficult to survive if you’re having a long trip! In addition, the capital of Egypt is the place to get the higher education in Egypt. There are two most remarkable universities of the country: Cairo University and American University in Cairo.  

The second-largest city in Egypt is Alexandria, major economic center and popular tourist destination. Alexander the Great founded it, and now this city is an important center of the international shipping industry, profited from easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Furthermore, its coast is one of the favorite tourists’ places to visit. The Red Sea is rated to be the most beautiful place in Egypt that is why plenty of tourists, especially from Russia, go to Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh to spend their holidays. It’s perfect variant to relax, lay on the beach and don’t mind about any problems, so if you’re dreaming about it for a very long time, then this will suit you, if you’re more keen on active and informative holidays, then welcome to the largest Egyptian cities! And some data about the weather: it’s very hot and very few raining, it doesn’t depend on the season, it’s just hot with no rain. The coldest weather you can go through is +8°C and almost without snow! For us, people living in the snow country, it’s a real magic, so we’re full of enthusiasm to visit Egypt.

What Culture Café can be without culture? Instead of a dessert we had small discussion about Egyptian culture. As our excursion was dedicated to modern Egypt, we opened this part with celebrities known in the country and worldwide. Without a doubt, you’ve heard about Mohamed Solah, a Liverpool star, if you’re a football fan. And yes, he is also from Egypt as a star from new Guy Ritchie’s movie. Mena Massoud, an Egyptian actor, became very popular after one of his best roles in Aladdin movie.

Our favorite part, when we talk about the culture, is food. Travelling is so inspiring and worth spending, but sometimes you miss something that means home for you and very often it’s all about food. Let’s see, which dishes are traditional for Egyptian cuisine and what students from Egypt miss so much about their home. One of the tastiest and most popular is kushari – a Egyptian dish made of rice and macaroni mixed together, topped with a spice tomato sauce and garlic vinegar and served with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. It can be prepared at home, and at the same time you can find it in the menu of restaurants all over Egypt. Another delicious meal, especially good for breakfast, is ful medames, a stew of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin and optionally with garlic, lemon juice, chili pepper and some other vegetable and spicy ingredients. Perhaps, you’ve tried falafel, so now you know it’s traditional for the Egyptians food. Eat it together with the fava beans, or some sauce, anyway, just try real Egyptian falafel. One more delicious pleasure is a molokhia – a thick green soup made of a special kind of vegetables. It was once only the privy of the Pharaohs, but now it’s very popular among the inhabitants because it’s very easy to cook, very healthy and tasty at the same time.

That was the last stop of our exciting journey, we discovered new country, new places and new culture. Thank you for attending our meetings and for your desire to explore and go further with every new Culture Café. We are growing up, thank you for being by our side. Egypt, it was marvelous, we won’t miss any opportunity to go there as we really want to!

It’s already the end of October, so first session week is coming, we wish you good luck on the exams and if you don’t have any, then enjoy your holidays! We’re saying goodbye but not for so long, in the second module we will meet again. Can’t wait to see you on our next Culture Café!

Text: Svetlana Dzhafarova