Currently, a sophomore psychology major at AUC, Salma Abde El-Baky began her adventures earlier than many people, by the end of her high school year. On her first night in Kenya she found herself further than she had ever been before; in Kenya, trying to sleep in a cold tent, in Kenya, without her mother, in Kenya, surrounded by strangers amongst whom she was the youngest. “It was a harsh night for me,” she says, “especially because it was my first time to travel alone – without any of my friends or family members.” Fortunately for her, she dismissed the creeping notions in the back of her head advising her to skedaddle. Departing from the shock of adjusting could help to remedy her immediate discomfort, but the slower, richer process of coming to terms with her environment supplanted her anxiety with a sense of achievement and camaraderie. In her own words, “this might seem a bit lame but for a long time after I came back from Kenya I thought to myself that maybe I had been underestimating myself all along. It opened my eyes to a different “kind” of travel, which I found out afterwards makes me excited and fits me more.”
The discomfort of her trip is also something she remembers vividly. Having to “wake up in the relatively small tent, put on the shoes, get out your torch, grab the wipes, find your way to the bathroom while you are half asleep, actually use the bathroom in the dark, wait for your tent mate 10 minutes in the cold until she is done as well” made even basic human functions a hassle on that mountain. Nights got so cold that she promised herself, “to never ever complain about the hot weather of Cairo!”
What I saw when I opened my eyes every morning! Where we [ironically] ate some of the best food ever!
The beauty of the journey unfolding though, eventually overshadowed these hassles. It’s not every day that you get to wake up to grass creeping beneath your tent wall surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Getting to overdose on pancakes with honey and falling in love with peanut soup and passion fruit isn’t so bad either! Of course journeys like these are usually never free of funny moments, “I woke up Hala one night and told her ‘Yalla the guide mestanneeky barra’ (the guide is waiting for you outside) then went back to sleep. She got dressed and all ready, then about 15 minutes later she woke me up and asked me where the guide is. Turned out I was talking in my sleep and it was still too early to get up. She definitely wanted to kill me at that moment!”
Looking back on her growth, Salma remembers Omar’s words, to take one step after the other. “Yesterday, in my Clinical Psychology class the professor was talking about baby steps in therapy and I told the class this piece of advice I received in Kenya and the professor appreciated it”. Salma’s philosophy on life is a gradualist one, “I generally do not believe that one thing changed my life; rather a collection of moments, journeys and people. However,” she goes on, “I could definitely say that Mount Kenya has opened my eyes to many new things and exposed me to new people.”
Stay tuned to more life changing stories from our life changing journeys!