Meet Abu Samra, an expat from Eritrea who moved from his home in the UK to embrace life in Egypt and all that it has to offer. When making the move to Egypt from London, Abu Samra quickly learned the importance of adaptability, especially in Cairo, “the city that never sleeps’.
Using his YouTube channel, Abu Samra The Expat, to share tips, lessons and life in Egypt, he was able to help encourage others to make the move too. Here is a look at the real for a Black expat.
Tell us who you are
I’m an average Eritrean born and raised in the U.K. I moved to Egypt in September 2016 and haven’t looked back since. It’s been quite the experience that I’m very grateful for.
I’m into anything that stimulates my mind and challenges me in any way, shape or form, especially when it comes to sports. It often serves as a humble reminder that I can always learn something from someone.
Apart from sports, I’m also into creating content and learning the Arabic language, even though admittedly I’ve been lazy with it.
What drew you to life in Egypt?
I used to be a karate athlete and did it for almost 20 years. It was a very serious thing for me, and I travelled around Europe to compete with some of the best athletes. I managed to win world and European titles for the WUKF federation.
My coach who was Egyptian used to bring players from Egypt to the U.K. and I realized the standard in Egypt was pretty high. My dad always wanted me to spend time in Egypt to train with the best players Egypt had to offer, and I had very short stints during the summer of 2015 and 2016 when I visited for a holiday.
After the second visit, I was sure I wanted to move to Egypt, but only if I could secure a job. I was blessed to find a job that was willing to train me during the first year to gain experience. Once I secured the job, I was ready to go.
How did you prepare for making the big jump to move abroad?
Thankfully, I had connections in Egypt through karate, and they often invited me to visit them for a holiday, so I used the opportunity to see what Egypt was like.
My second visit was for a month, so I was able to gauge life in Egypt a bit better, and it gave me a clearer picture. My father also advised me to be Egyptian when I moved there.
He told me to learn the language, culture, tradition etc. and it was the best advice ever. It helped smooth the transition and also made me settle in quickly. As a result, Egyptians have been very welcoming and consider me one of their own.
What have been the biggest challenges while adjusting to life in a new country and culture?
Eritrean and Egyptian culture have some similarities, so adjusting to the culture wasn’t so hard. The hardest part was being away from my mum and dad. Growing up, I never really left my house unless I had training, and I really liked being a homebody and just being with my parents. I’m very grateful for what they have done for me, and leaving them was very difficult and the biggest challenge by far.
Otherwise, I’d say doing things the Egyptian way in terms of living was a bit difficult at first, trying not to do things that would offend them and learning Arabic for sure.
Do you see yourself in Egypt long term or do you have your eyes elsewhere?
When I first moved to Egypt, the plan was to stay for one or two years and then go back to the U.K. but after I got married and had kids, I decided to stay until I find something that will be good not just for myself but for my family.
Since I was 16 I’ve had my eye on the Gulf countries, so I plan on moving there when the time is right. For now, though, I’m pretty content in Egypt.
What questions do you receive most when sharing your expat journey on YouTube?
The questions I receive mainly revolve around finding a job, studying and visas. I’m always surprised at the amount of people that want to move to Egypt and quite often they’re from different countries.
What are your top 3 favorite things about living in Egypt?
There’s always something to do and places to explore. Egyptians themselves are tourists in their country because it is so diverse and each city has something unique about it.
Apart from historical sites in Cairo, you’ve got the Nubian culture in Aswan, Bedouin lifestyle in Matrouh, resorts on the Red Sea, Coastal cities like Alexandria and floating in the Oasis in Siwa. The list is endless.
My second favorite thing is the Egyptian hospitality I’ve experienced. Egyptians take hospitality so seriously, and they make sure their guests are happy and taken care of. I walked into a shop once and the owner told me to sit down and got me a cup of tea. I told him I was fine, but he insisted and wouldn’t let me go until I drank my tea.
My third favorite thing might seem trivial, but hear me out. Literally anything and everything gets delivered to your house. Groceries, food delivery, medicine, doughnuts and even coffee! You have to get a lot of things yourself in the U.K. so I’m very grateful for that.
If I had to choose something more serious, though, I’d say being able to stay out late because literally everyone else is out late, especially during Ramadan. Cairo is another city that never sleeps. Literally.
For more on Abu Samra’s journey, head over to YouTube for videos and updates.