One year ago, in March, I was accepted as a member of my organization, the Medical Students Committee on International Affairs (MSCIA), as a Department of Professional Exchange (DOPE) member. I am interested in joining DOPE because I like to travel and study foreign cultures, so I am looking for a division to help me reach my goal. In April, DOPE and DORE held an event to promote the student exchange program from SCOPE and SCORE IFMSA, and of course, I was very interested and applied to the SCORE program because it (SCORE) was the only program available for my year. However, I was confused about which country to choose because, at that time, I could only choose three countries. Two of the three countries I decided on were Asian countries, and I had already been there; then the rest, I decided on Egypt, a country in Africa far from Indonesia.
I researched a lot of things about Egypt before choosing it to make sure that I wanted to go there. And I realized that Egypt was my best choice for studying and travelling. They have many historical and beautiful places there, and I have loved Arabic food since childhood. But, the most important reason I wanted to go to Egypt was to meet my father's family, who lived there. As for the project, I chose a Dermatology project about Psoriasis and Acne Vulgaris because I had already learned it in the previous semester, and I adore everything about the integumentary system. Sadly, a couple of days before the scientific program in the hospital, they said that I had to switch the project to Cataract Surgery in the Ophthalmology department. I have yet to get to the ophthalmology block, let alone cataract surgery. But don't get upset just yet; you must read this article to the end.
I arrived at Cairo airport at 1 am and Benha around 3 am with Kak Moha, my senior from Brawijaya University. We went to our apartment, and my apartment is with other incomings from Spain, Slovakia, and Mexico; sadly, I was too tired to introduce myself, so I went straight to bed. After waking up, I settled my stuff and did some groceries with my senior. The next day, we woke up late and went straight to lunch. That's when I first met three other male incomings; one of them is from Mexico, and two others are from Morocco. We get one free fantastic lunch daily at the Nile Oriental View Restaurant. We also did an Upon Arrival Training and played UNO there for two or three hours; it was so fun. After that, we went to walk by the Nile River and chill on the Felucca. This is the first thing I learned in Egypt; they like to dance, and Egyptian songs are catchy.
We started the first week as fun and unforgettable. But I only talked a little, and it's hard to speak with the other incomings and the LEC because they are much older than me. I was the youngest and not used to casually talking to someone older than me. But the Local Committees are very lovely, friendly, and polite there. They don't think about age when talking to someone; they are even friends with the doctors.
The scientific program was held from Sunday to Thursday because Egypt's weekend is Friday. The committee will accompany us daily to help if we're confused. But the doctors in the ophthalmology department itself are very helpful and friendly. A doctor recommended which restaurant and food we should try in Benha, and another doctor took us to grab some coffee and play paddle with us. I love how friendly the doctors are, not only to us but to their students too!
We went to Alexandria for the first week's social program for the social program. The trip takes around 3 hours by car, but I love the time in the car because we get to talk a lot there. And Alexandria itself is excellent. I love the food, the place, the view, and the beach; everything about Alexandria is excellent. I got to know some of the exchange team and the incomings from here. They are so playful and fun! But not all of the incomings joined us because some have a scientific program in Shark El Sheikh. Unfortunately, we only stayed for one night. I didn't join the National Weekend in Marsa Alam the following week because I wanted to stay with my family. But believe me, make sure to attend the National Weekend, especially in Egypt.
The third week was my favourite in Egypt because I got to know all the incomings more and loved the social program. We went on a cruise along the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan. The temples are great, the view is beautiful, and the food is good, but every moment with the incomings is unforgettable. I swam in the deck pool every time with the incomings and talked about many things with them. We swam until 2 am the first night and talked until 4 am. Then we played around the pool, had some tea time, watched a belly dancer, got to know some staff on the deck, and swam again.
And here comes the worst part of a hello, a goodbye. The last week was a roller coaster for me because I needed to finish the scientific program and collect the patient's data, and I got really sad at the same time because it was going to be my last week with the incomings. We cry when we say our goodbyes and exchange letters or gift. But for me, a hug is enough. We may meet again sometimes, but maybe we don't. And the best thing for me so far from Egypt are the exchange team, the incomings, the people, and the food. I enjoyed every second I spent there with no regret.
So, what are you waiting for? Habibi and Habibti, yalla! Come to Egypt!