From Norway to Spain to Egypt: Femieshe
My name is Kristine and I was born in Norway but grew up in Spain. I currently live in Cairo, Egypt. I blog about my dream life with prince charming in a not so charming country!
1. Why did you move abroad?
My whole life ive been living abroad, never fit in anywhere... except when I came to Egypt for the first time on holiday. It was love at first sight. I instantly felt at home even though I didn't speak the language or even know anyone. I knew this is where I wanted to live forever.
Then I came back and did a year at univeristy here. I had to leave to finish my degree in other countries, Spain and Scotland and then I came back the last few months of my degree to do an internship. It was this time that I met my prince charming. We had a long-distance relationship for 3 years until I finally had the chance to move back for good. My whole life is a bit messy and confusing, just like Egypt!
2. How do you make a living?
I don't haha… After doing two interships in Cairo, I realised that there is no way I can work in an Egyptian environment. There is still a looong way to go before women are equal here, and I'm not into that ´boss shouting and disrespecting employees´thing, which happens ALOT!
My husband is the one supporting the family. I tried to open a beauty salon as it has always been my dream, but it was one huge massive stressful disaster. I have enough stress dealing with the horrific stories my husband tells me about from his company.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I write a lot of letters.. HAHAHA no, if anyone knew what the post offices here in Egypt look like, you wouldn't expect anything non-cyber to arrive anywhere. I do a lot of whatsapping… Maybe once a month or more I manage to get in a Skype call with my parents and sister. Then of course I stalk all my friends and extended family on Facebook and Instagram.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Egypt?
Oooh thats a hard one… I used to love Egypt, hell I even got a tattoo of the Egyptian flag done on my wrist, that's dedication! But after living here for 3 years, everything kinda slowly unravels in front of you… You come on holiday, stay a while and everything is so beautiful and magical and exotic.
Egypt is like a rotten onion… Beautiful, smooth and perfect on the outside… The longer you stay the more layers peel away, to reveal a rotten core. I have soooo many stories on my blog of how rotten the system is. A small example: On the outside it looks like Egypt has an amazing variety of delicious restaurants to satisfy all taste buds… Peel the onion… How many of these places actually have good food, and if its good, can you eat there without getting sick/food poisining?
But let's be positive… Egypt has stunning beaches and good weather.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Egypt?
Hmmmm…. I could fill a book with the things I hate about Egypt. But I'll mention one thing… Timing. People here do not respect time at all! They will be late for everything and blame it on the traffic. The traffic that has been this bad the last 10 years, so its nothing new… Then they will lie about where they are…’ On the way’ in Egypt means at home chilling and will start getting ready in about 5 minutes. I hate this… there is this my time is more valuable than your time mentality. I'm more important so I'll just let you wait for me… AAAHHHH I'm getting angry just thinking about it now!!
6. What do you miss most?
I love supermarkets and food shopping. This is so difficult here in Egypt… They have carrefour, but honestly its just the name. Inside its filled with Egyptian produced goods and those of you who know Egypt or have been here know that most of it is not good quality.
I love cheese and good cheese is impossible to find here. Every single time I go to Carrefour which is like once a week, I dont find the product I bought last time. Someone should have a word with the product-buying-manager. In the last 5 months ive found Carrefours Cheddar cheese ONCE. We bought 7 packets to stock up, and when we went back the next week, sold out!!! Never seen it again! But I'm lucky as my husband is a pilot with night stops all over the world, so if i miss something he can get me it!
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Nothing… But then again I dont have any friends here. My husband is away so much for his job and I have a son to look after, so I don't really have time to do any socialising.
When my husband is home, number one priority is to do things as a family. Also it's hard to socialise when most Egyptians are vampires and only go out during the night. I have a child that has a bedtime.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Raising children…. People in Egypt live to get married and produce children, so I thought Egypt would be an amazingly child friendly place. It was only after having a child I noticed it is NOT! All cafes/restaurants are smoking… If there is a non-smoking area it will be inside, surrounded by the smoking people. Not many kids playgrounds or parks for free, actually none, you have to pay thousands to be members of sporting clubs to have access to a playground and a place to walk. While I'm brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed, children younger than 4 are downstairs screaming and playing. They have no respect for bedtimes here. Giving soda and chocolate to kids as young as 4 months. And the overuse of medicine on kids is crazy. The list goes on of things children have to deal with here.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Sexual harrasment is bad here. Its actually EXTREME! The study that showed that 90% of women have been harassed here in Egypt, well I think 10% of those people stay at home. You CANNOT go outside without getting harrased, doesnt matter if you are pregnant, carrying a child, with your mother, with your husband, YOU WILL get harassed. Of course not every time, you might be able to take the odd walk in the garden, but you will get stared at.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The last country I lived in was Norway, so yes cost of living is definately cheaper here in Egypt. However there is a downgrade in quality of life. Electricity and the basics is cheaper, but then you might have the electricity cut a few times a month, and the water gone for a full day. But honestly we probably pay more living here, than if we were to live anywhere else. All imported stuff is considered a luxury and therefore taxed to extremes. So we end up buying 80% of our food outside Egypt. We only buy the basics such as eggs and milk here.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
People either love or hate Egypt from the start. Once they have moved here the people that love Egypt, start hating it. Its a very diffuclt place to live and if its for a short time, it could be fun… But not long-term, and its definately not a place you want to raise your child.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started blogging when I moved to Egypt to be with my prince charming. It was mostly just for my family to be able to keep updated about my life in Egypt, as internet connection was non-existent… Then I bought a place and started renovating it, so I would blog about the crazy stuff that I had to deal with. My blog is my little baby now. It's followed me from the beginning of my Egyptian adventure, through engagement, renovations, marriage, pregnancy, birth… It also my therapist… When I get frustrated about the things I have to deal with in this crazy country I vent on my blog!
Natalie's Blog, Femieshe
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