Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh, Red Sea Resort, 2016. (Photo Credit: Lara Sherif)

As I applied for universities in my senior year of high school, I began to contemplate leaving Egypt. I knew that if I was going to receive a comprehensive education and achieve a successful career, I needed to go abroad. I eventually decided on Canada. My sister and brother-in-law had already applied to emigrate. With an uncle and other relatives in Toronto, my parents were most likely to follow. It only made sense to be close to family. In the summer of 2016, I left Alexandria for Toronto. I was excited. But, it was a bitter-sweet excitement. I packed my entire room and left life-long friends for a whole new city; a whole new country on a whole new continent. I wanted to come. I had already taken that step and made my decision. My mom didn’t want me to go, but I was insistent. It hurt, but I wanted to come.

I arrived with my parents for the summer. They helped get me established. Looking back, I only really started to feel a longing for home, when they returned to Egypt in the fall. It was then that I debated returning. Social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat didn’t help. I was up to date on all the fun my friends were having as I drive through snow, adapt to all new courses, and have strange encounters.

In Toronto, people always ask: where are you from? After learning that I am Egyptian, people were always surprised by my English proficiency. Their concept of Egypt is a country still trapped in the stone age. That aside, I am satisfied with my decision. I feel that I have learned far more than I would have in Egypt. I don’t think of going back, and anticipate many more achievements in the future.

Lara Sherif – Toronto, Canada

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