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Sylvia Ferrara, Cairo

Who are you?

My name is Sylvia Ferrara. I’m 51 years old and have two adult children that still live in the USA.Moving abroad is something that I had in my mind as a child. I knew it would be on the continent of Africa but I had no idea which country I’d eventually move to.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I left Los Angeles and moved to Cairo, Egypt on May 22, 2017 to be with my husband and for a change. A very big change, I might add. My mom passed away in August of 2015 and I decided that it was finally time for a change, time to finally do what I had in my mind since I was a child. So, I prepared my pets and bought a one way ticket to Cairo. I packed up and was on my way in less than two months. I planned on staying in Egypt for one year and maybe a second year, if I liked it.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Preparing my animals and getting to the airport with all my stuff and pets. I missed my flight due to an agent that wasn’t familiar with checking in pets and had to sleep in the airport because the hotel they sent me to couldn’t accommodate me and my pets. A major nightmare! The airline was very helpful the next day and we all made the flight!

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How did you find somewhere to live?

I had been to Egypt many times before I decided to move there. So I already knew what would work for me, and what wouldn’t, as far as living accommodations. My husband, knowing me, my likes and dislikes, took care of everyting a month before I arrived. He got us a very nice villa in a compound with a pool. We didn’t stay there long because the owners were a big headache, the pool’s filter stopped working, and we couldn’t get wifi! He went and found us a nice apartment and we moved!

Are there many other expats in your area?

I’ve read that many are in my area but I don’t really see any. I’ve met a couple but they now live in other areas. Getting around is very easy so that doesn’t pose a problem at all.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

It’s ok. I don’t go out much and if I do, it’s with my friends. The men have been nicer than the females. It’s been hard to make friends with the females.

What do you like about life where you are?

Every day is a learning experience. I am taking Arabic lessons and get to hear Arabic daily, which should be helpful. But, most locals can speak enough English, and for me, English is much easier! I need to really apply myself since I have this opportunity to learn Arabic.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

It can be boring at times and I miss everything from home and freedom of speech! I miss just blending in with everyone. I especially miss the food and ease of shopping at home. I miss my kids and family immensely.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Here, religion is a part of every aspect of life and not necessarily in a good way. I now feel self conscious about how I dress and that means that just my arms and shoulders are showing!

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country?

I don’t particularly like it. Luckily I like to cook so I mostly cook my meals. It’s hard to find some of the products I want or they are extremely overpriced. But, I’ve learned to make a lot of things homemade whereas before maybe I would have used a jar of pasta sauce. Now, it’s all homemade and very good!

What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I like learning new stuff. I like learning the language. I like the sites. I don’t like how they treat animals. I don’t like the trash everywhere. I don’t like the low pay and lack of opportunity for the citizens. And I really dislike that there is no freedom of speech!

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

It’s not an easy adjustment! But the experience is invaluable. I think that everyone should move abroad for at least a year and learn about themselves and another culture. I think it would make the world a better place.

What are your plans for the future?

To return to the USA! Go out and eat all the food that I’ve missed with my family and friends. Work a bit and do some traveling. Who knows after that! I have always wanted to live in the Caribbean…

You can get in touch with Sylvia on Facebook and Instagram.

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