Friday, February 02, 2007


We have been saying for years now that we will go to Egypt once our kids are older. Older being relative... It seems like we mean older than they are at the time we are talking, which of course just keeps changing since we never really defined "older". Lately however, we have defined older. When our oldest is 9-10. Which is coming in the next few years... So we have started to look at what moving to Egypt would actually entail. Wow.

There are so many questions to answer... What would be our source of income? Would the kids know Arabic well enough to attend an Egyptian school? Where would we live? How would I learn Arabic? How long would we stay? Just so many things to consider... And we are talking two years down the road.

From people who have made this change... What are the things you took into consideration? How long did it take you from we should move to actually moving? How does an Egyptian life for American kids look? Do they adapt easily? How did you choose where to live? What are the things you wish you had or had not done? And finally, am I crazy for already thinking about this? You see we are planning a trip soon, insha'Allah, and I am thinking maybe we should try to get things in order somewhat while we are there... Maybe we should really look at the apartments the family has to see if any of them make sense for us at least?

I am just swimming in this whole idea today for some reason. You see I have known it is coming, and for some reason I guess I have always treated this place like a student or something. Maybe not Egypt... But somewhere other than here will be our permanent home I think. Allahu Alim. Strangely, it gives me some peace to look at it like a goal, maybe that is why I am thinking about it so much as we get things with our lives rolling in a new direction.


umm yehiya said...

Masha'allah, hababti. I am also an American muslim revert married to an Egyptian man, which I think is initially why your blog caught my attention awhile back.

ANYWAY. We are also planning to move to Egypt in about 2-3 years (he's striving for 2), when my husband is finished with his studies, insha'allah! We are intending to move for....many, many reasons, which I'm sure you're familiar with.

This is a huge topic. We just came back from a 3-week visit there, masha'allah, and started really seriously thinking about what this would entail. I would say, if you're planning a trip there, definitely take a look at the apartments that I think you said your family has to offer? I mean, why not?

My husband and I have lived in our house for about 3 years, and I've also always sort of treated it like a student abode...I like the place, but I always knew that insha'allah we didn't intend to stick around for long, so it's kinda sparse. Alhamdulileh.

My husband lived with his family in the States from ages 2-5 years old, and then they decided to move back to Egypt. I'm offering this story as a possible picture of what it might be like for your kids to adjust. So anyway, when they first got back to Egypt, my husband understood Arabic (both parents being Egyptian), but he couldn't speak it. They enrolled him in an English-language school, with of course Arabic language classes and Religion classes being in Arabic. So, after about a year (maybe less I'm not sure), he was fluent, masha'allah. The transition was hard at first, but it turned out not to be a big deal in the end. Actually, having their kids speak Arabic was my in-laws' MAIN reason that they moved back to Egypt in the first place, so this was important to them.

Hm, what else?

Does your husband have some sort of degree? I can't remember. But he does have a lot of work experience, I think, so with that plus connections (he must know some Egyptians who know some Egyptians, right? ;) ), I've heard with that type of situation it shouldn't be too much of a problem getting a job for him, insha'allah.

It'll be a huge cultural adjustment for you, especially - Wallahu alim. But you can do it, insha'allah. There's a whole bunch of expats, Egyptians are really kind in general masha'allah, and lots of people speak English (although of course learning Arabic is a must - but you might be surprised how much easier it is to pick it up [relatively speaking] with the whole aural experience of being surrounded by Arabic 24/7).

It's really good that you guys are thinking about these steps now, if you're serious about it. I have an American friend in Egypt right now, who's been there about a year, living with in-laws. She loves it so much, for many reasons - but for other reasons she has to come back to the States for awhile, then is planning to return to Egypt with the family as a whole, insha'allah.

Like I said, this is a huge (and interesting - especially to me, anyway!) topic, so we can talk more if you like, insha'allah.

Salaamu alaikum, sister!

UmmLayla said...

Yeah umm Yehiya, let's talk. My DH is from the Cairo area, and he has memberships to clubs and stuff... So we will be comfortable there, insha'Allah. Especialy if we can keep the three bedroom he grew up in in Agooza. The hard part is knowing that you are making the right choices for your family long term. I would love to just run off w/o another thought... But we have to ask ourselves all these financial questions, yuck. One of the big ones being how do you have enough money to come back to the US if you want after working at Egyptian rates for too many years? I think you have to know that you are there for the long run to make it work. Or, we have talked about DH coming back to the states to work, but I want us all to be together, even if it means taking a pay cut.

I guess the wierd part is the feeling that nothing is permanent yet. I look at our place and I know I haven't been treating it as a long term residence... I look at it like an apartment. The improvements I have done are all framed by, "Will that help when we sell?".

Recently the whole thing has been complicated by plans to open another bussiness. I wish I could turn back the clock on that one for sure. But, Alhamdulilah, it will benefit us in the end even if it is more work than I wanted to get into doing. It was just much easier when DH was a phd candidate and we were leaving after graduation... When graduation never came things just got complicated....

Anonymous said...

At some point you mentioned that your husband needed medical care. How does that work in Egypt? Not just regular medical care, but access to the cutting edge in med research? Would that be a big factor that affects your decision to move anywhere?

UmmLayla said...

Most medical care in Egypt is very comparable to here, as long as you can afford it. My DH is an engineer, so we have some benefits through the engineers union there. I had a problem with my third pregnancy and saw the head of obstetrics at Cairo Uni and got a 3-D ultrasound for $50 (without the union discount).

Now there are things that people come here for, or go to Europe... But most likely anything he needed would be there. Actually, I have found that DRs here rely so heavily on their diagnostics and machines that they are pretty poor with critical thinking or diagnosing something that doesn't easily fit into the results column on a lab test... And in Egypt they are really good with getting to the root of your problem. There are some things that they are probably different about (use of antibiotics) but if you are involved in your own health care I think it would not be a big deal.

Anonymous said...

What happened to his PhD? Can't he continue it?

Sketched Soul said...

As-salaamu'alaykum wa Rahmatu Llahi wa Barakatuhu my dearest sister,

This is a very interesting read.

Before you go anywhere.. do you think you can let me know :D *unless the first item you get once you reach there is the internet* I'd very much miss emailing you :(


UmmLayla said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
UmmLayla said...

Farhana, Of course girl! Of course I wouldn't even take a vacation there w/o internet access so I would stay in touch;)

Anon. He could continue his phd... It would just be hard and he isn't interested in doing that right now. I guess he sees more hope in being a small bussiness owner. What happened with his phd though is a string of political problems getting into the phd program at all and then 3 advisors who left as he was staring the actual writting(the pay at this uni sucks so they moved to other places)... Just bad luck really.