Interview with Norhan Algenady

29. 6. 2018

A short description: (Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been in the Czech Republic...)

My name is Norhan, from Cairo, Egypt. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. I'm the mother of two boys. This is my third year in Czech republic.

1/ Is it the first time you have lived abroad? Why did you decide to live in the Czech Republic, in Pardubice?

Yes, actually this is my first time to live abroad. And the reason behind choosing the Czech republic – especially Pardubice – is that my husband is doing his Ph.D. study in Chemistry at the University of Pardubice.

2/Do you remember your first thoughts when you discovered that you were going to the Czech Republic?

Of course it wasn't an easy decision, and it took lots of thinking from me. It wasn't easy to decide to move our life -me and my kids- and come to live in a European country. But we were really excited about that and I decided to consider it as a long vacation ☺ .

3/ You have been living in Pardubice for almost 3 years with your husband and your 2 sons. Was it complicated to move to Pardubice and be integrated? What are the different steps/stages you had to go through?

As I told you it wasn't an easy decision. Of course the very early steps were on my husband before our coming, to find a suitable flat –which wasn't easy at all- then we started looking for a school for the kids. From my side I started to read about the Czech Republic and tried to learn some basic sentences in Czech.

4/ How do your  two sons feel about living  here? 

They are doing well. Of course it wasn't easy at the beginning because of  the difference in language and culture, but, as you know, kids need less time to learn and get integrated with others.

5/What was the most complicated thing you had to face in Pardubice? How did you handle it? Did you get any assistance?

As I told you, at first it was finding schools for the kids but we got really great assistance from both the Integration Center in Pardubice and the Foreigner’s Department at the University of Pardubice.

Also we sometimes meet difficulties dealing with medical issues as it is so difficult to communicate with the doctors.

6/ What do you think is the best thing about the Czech Republic and Pardubice?

Czech republic is an exciting country with lots of beautiful things to see . Also Pardubice is a nice city, although it isn't a big one, but it is a good place to live.

7/ Do you have a favourite place in Pardubice, or a place where you go to get away?

We like to go to " Park na spici ". it is a beautiful place where the kids can play freely and we can enjoy the sight of the river. Sometimes we have a walk through the forest near my home.

8/ Do you have any hobbies?

I like reading books and listening to music. Also for keeping myself busy I have joined some online courses that are useful for my work field and and also I'm studying the French language through the Aliance Francaise in Pardubice.

9/ How does life in Pardubice compare Cairo? What is the main difference between Czech people/culture and Egyptian people/Culture?

There are much great differences between life in the Czech republic and Egypt. As you know Egypt is a bigger country with a larger population. Life there is more active;  most of the shops are open till mid night –if not 24 h ☺. Whenever you are in the mood to go out to have fun or eat something you don't have to worry about it. Also being a coastal country you can enjoy both seas (Mediterranean & red sea); that is something I really miss here. Also there is big difference in culture and traditions between Egyptian and Czech people.

10/ Speaking about culture, I cannot help but think about Egyptian cuisine. Can you cook the typical meal here?

Mostly yes; of course it is not easy to find all materials that I may need here. I try to get some from the Arabian shops in Prague or I would get them during my visits to Egypt.

11/If I may, I would like to ask you something very personal: How is it to be an Arabian veiled woman in Pardubice?

Of course it is't an easy thing. As you know Pardubice is a small city where it is not common to see foreign people walking in the streets – especially a veiled woman like in cities as big a Prague. Up till now I still get people gazing at me while on the bus or at a shop or even walking in the street. Some people just look and some others may ask where am I from? Or why am I dressing this way? But I think that is normal for a small city.

12/ Have you been able to make some friends and contacts here?

Yeah, thank god. I was lucky to meet some nice people here . Mostly parents at my sons' school. Most of them are either foreigners or married to Czech people. Of course it was easier to communicate with them as long as they all speak English, which is something rare to find here.

13/ Do you know any words in the Czech language? If so, how did you learn them? Which one is the most complicated or funniest to pronounce?

As People know, the Czech language it not an easy language to learn.I tried to learn some basic words and phrases online before coming here. And when I came I joined Czech language course provided by the integration center. I can't say that I can speak Czech but I try to do my best to communicate with people. The most complicated thing for me was the" 7 cases " lesson and how they change the words according to their position in the sentence. While the funny thing was how some words in Czech look similar to words in arabic but with different meaning.

14/ Speaking about language, you speak English and Arab. Could you teach us a few words?

Mmmmm. .. OK, let me try something , I will give you some basic words (in English letters of course) that may be useful if someone is thinking about visiting Egypt or any other Arab Country :

Hello = Marhaba , Thanks = Shokran , Sorry = Aasif , Please = Min Fadlak .

15/ If someone was coming from Egypt to the Czech Republic, to Pardubice, what advice would you give them?

Of course it would be better to benefit from the experience of someone who previously lived here, so he may skip several stages that we had to go through, but the most important thing is to try to learn the Czech language as it is very difficult to communicate with people in English only.

16/ I was told that you were leaving soon. How is the whole family feeling about it? Are you planning to come back the the Czech Republic? What are your plans once you are back in Egypt?

The kids are very excited about going back. They really miss the family, friends and the food. Of course I would like to come again to visit Czech republic when I have the chance. I really loved the city. Once in Egypt I'm planning to go back to my job after this long vacation.

Caroline Novak-Jolly

Department of International Affairs and Developement