Living in an intense place like Cairo with all of its stresses and challenges can teach us a lot about life and hopefully bring us out as better people on the other side, much like coal could never become a glistening diamond without immense pressure and stress…

Here are some life lessons you pick up pretty quickly living on the streets of Cairo:

It’s not what you know; it’s who you know

This is a useful life lesson no matter where you live in the world, and is very easily learned in Egypt. A good wasta can mean everything, because it doesn’t matter how smart you are if you don’t know the inside information.

Patience is a virtue

Because otherwise, with all the traffic, bukra and Insha’alla‘s, you would go crazy.

You can’t sweat the small stuff

So many things in life are just not in your control, and living in a city that thrives on chaos, you are reminded of that every day…. hour… and practically every minute. So you have to let some things go.

You must enjoy the simple things

Living in overwhelming Cairo, you will actually lose your mind if you don’t take a step back and enjoy the simple things. A beautiful sunset over the Nile and a nice song on the radio can do wonders for the soul if you let it, even if you’re stuck in traffic while noticing them.

Honesty is worth its weight in gold

Unfortunately, you can’t always assume people are being truthful with you, so when you find an honest person, appreciate it and hold on to them, because they make life so much less complicated.

People are generally good

If they weren’t, in a city of countless millions, we would be surrounded by chaos (more than we already are) and all be doomed. Mental note to self, don’t be in Cairo if there is a zombie apocalypse, the odds would not be in our favour.

Things are not always as they seem

We all know the age-old saying that “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but it doesn’t sink in until you see it for yourself. The richest and flashiest individual could be the poorest at heart, and a taxi driver could be the most generous person you will meet all day. You don’t know until you know.

People are important

For Egyptians, it’s normal to drop everything and put people first. This is something many in other cultures don’t learn till later in life, but really there is nothing more important than relationships with people.

Some things are worth losing sleep over

Cairo is the city that never sleeps, because we only live once, and sometimes we just need to throw responsibility to the wayside and live it up.

Featured image by Cheri Lucas