Ilaria Youssef
Ilaria Youssef
Cairo, Egypt 2023-2024
I was born in Egypt and moved to the U.S. when I was 11 years old. Now, I am going back to Cairo, Egypt to volunteer as a data analyst with BLESSEgypt for six months! Come along with me as I give back to the community that raised me. Read More About Ilaria →

Christmas and New Year’s Travels

Happy New Year!

**Unfortunately, I broke my laptop’s screen, so I haven’t been able to post the blogs I’ve been writing. Bear with me as I post them during my free time from the office computer. I’ll probably have to come back later, once my laptop is fixed, to add pictures. For now, enjoy this blog post I wrote on January 9th.

These past couple of weeks have been thrilling. I traveled to Germany on Christmas weekend and stayed there until the day after New Year’s. I got to see my sister when I landed there, and just being together again was wonderful in itself. We stayed, for the most part, at friends’ apartments and city-hopped throughout the day. I visited Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Dresden, Colmar, Strasbourg, and celebrated New Year’s Eve in Berlin. I made new friends, some of whom live in Egypt, ate delicious foods, and visited multiple Christmas Markets.

A couple of days after my sister and I came back to Egypt, my brother also landed here! With the Youssef siblings reunited, we celebrated Coptic Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on the 7th of January, alongside aunts and cousins whom we haven’t seen since we moved to the U.S. Being surrounded by extended family was the highlight of my holiday season, as I was missing my parents a little extra. When I was a kid, I remember my parents taking me to my aunt’s house on Christmas day, and my siblings and I would run around and play with our cousins, and having that same experience now, as an adult, was such a healing, warm feeling.

Coming back to the office, I found a Christmas gift on my desk, even though I wasn’t involved in the secret Santa game. In addition, some of my colleagues, whom I had befriended and gotten close with, started reminiscing on our time together¬† over the “last year,” as they put their last touches on their end-of-year reports.

Since the New Year was only a week ago, and I am still in my reflective stage, I am going to share some of my reflections regarding this journey.

  1. Before Germany and meeting up with my siblings, I had found myself stuck in a routine, and I felt like I wasn’t taking full advantage of my time here in Egypt. However, I’ve set a goal for myself to try to go on more excursions on the weekends and to go out and meet new people during the weekdays.
  2. Homesickness, missing my friends, and being in a completely different time zone than all my loved ones is difficult. But I am trying to remind myself that nothing lasts. The hard times will fade away eventually, and so do the good times, so it’s important to cherish the good with the bad.
  3. I want to keep reminding myself that around this time last year Nardien and I were working on the Lumos application and praying that it all works out, so it’s important to be thankful and focus on the now rather than always planning for/ only looking forward to the future.

I didn’t mean to turn the blog into a TED talk, but I am hoping that writing these out helps me remember them often.

I hope you had a blessed holiday season, and I’ll write again soon,

Ilaria Youssef

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