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8 Things That Have A Different Meaning in Egypt

We've never been a nation to abide by definitions...

Ever partied in Egypt wearing a miniskirt? Ever waited for a green light to cross the street? Ever wondered where the paper bin was? Some things are just not the same here as they are all over the world... 


North America was hit with what most people around the world consider "winter" this week: a wall of snow swept across the city of Buffalo, NY, covering it in a blanket of white fluff. In Egypt, the absence of seasons means that winter is a word associated with a slightly higher chance of rain and the necessity for a cardigan. When snow actually touched down in parts of Cairo last year in December it actually made international headlines, that's how earth-shattering it was. In the rest of the world the white glory is a firm part of the cold season. 


When people all over the world would be asked to paint a picture of nature they would overwhelmingly choose the colour green to do so. Egypt does feature nature, however, except for an oasis in the desert or the Nile Delta such nature seldom includes the colour green. When enjoying nature in Egypt one will be browsing the mountains of Sinai or ride through the dunes in the Sahara. The air is clean there but life is significantly harder to spot.


When Ke$ha described her perfect night of partying in the song Tik Tok, brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack and waiting until the police shuts her down, it was obvious Ke$ha is not partying in the streets of Egypt. The international meaning of partying often requires stumbling home, barely conscious. General misbehavior due to alcohol consumption will probably find little understanding with the rest of the population. Hence, partying in Egypt has a different meaning than in the rest of the world and is confined to private places or away from the majority of the general public.  


In the United States, a historic building is considered anything that was there before the 20th century. In most parts of Europe, tourists will find historic churches that were built in the Middle Ages. And in Asia the Great Wall of China blows people away by having been around since the 7th century BC. When considering these numbers, Egyptians may only laugh, considering that there are buildings, treasures and mummified corpses that were found here that are older than that. Way older. The Great Pyramids make the Great Wall look super modern, having been built a whopping 2000 years before it. Frankly, Egypt's historic opulence makes any other countries look like babies.


In the vast majority of countries that decided to put sidewalks next to steets, they are used by cautious pedestrians to make sure cars don't run them over. Why were these built in Egypt? Not only is walking in the street much easier because you need a ladder to get on some of these sidewalks but some just randomly end, have huge holes in them or are blocked by parked cars that consider them spots rather than pedestrian shelters. Sooner or later, every person walking on Egypt's sidewalks finds themselves switching to the street at some point, even if that means sharing the surface with buses traveling at 100 miles an hour.


Some foods are done differently in Egypt: ordering salad abroad will not get you hummus and tahina and getting a desert doesn't always mean eating something that will give you an instant cavity. However, the biggest difference to the rest of the world is ordering coffee. Most countries do not consider Nescafe a suitable alternative to a fresh roast, and there is hardly a place outside of Egypt that would serve you a cup of Nescafe when all you wanted is a cup of REAL coffee.

Traffic Signs

When's the last time you have used a green light to cross the street in Egypt? That's right, never! Although traffic lights do or did exist in this country at some time in some places, Egyptian driving behaviour does not allow for them to be abided by. In most places of the world they also have something called a "crosswalk" that allows for pedestrians to safely cross a busy street. Such fantasies are nothing but surreal in Egypt where crosswalks may exist but have no meaning to drivers.


It appears that the only recycling decision one may make in Egypt is what side of the sidewalk to toss your trash on. The absence of trash cans of any kind is contributing to mountains of waste all over the place and the impossibility of recycling. Plastic bottles and soda cans which are all used in Egypt in the thousands every day would all be perfect to recycle. For now, it remains a unlikely that all the valuable waste will find another purpose after use in Egypt in the future.