I dropped out of uni and went to work in Egypt during an ISIS attack

Though it didn’t directly affect me, it changed everything

So what do you do when you have just dropped out of uni with no fall back plan if something doesn’t go right? Some might go and work the summer in Ibiza promoting clubs, taking pills and partying the night away. Others might be sensible and get a full time office job.

Having just left John Moores, I went on a two week holiday to Egypt to the start of summer. I returned on such a high with newly sunkissed skin and not a bloody worry in the world.

I tried reality for a week and booked a one way flight ticket back to Egypt and began working as a hotel entertainer. What could sound more like paradise than working on a beach in your bikini and chatting away to people in 40 degrees heat? Performing silly shows in the evening followed by free nights out to big nightclubs and free alcohol. Sounds bliss. Unfortunately paradise also had it’s consequences.

Within months it had all changed. There was an ISIS attack at a beach resort, a Russian plane was brought down with a bomb and the UK government cancelled all direct flights to Egypt.

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The author and her coworkers in Egypt

Thankfully the attack didn’t directly involve me or my hotel, but the ripple effects could be felt across the country. Working in tourism, we were hit the hardest.

As I worked for an Egyptian holiday company, I was under the assumption paperwork would have obviously been sorted before my arrival. Wrong. I spent two weeks in hiding inside a room in fear of deportation, or worse time in jail. Alongside me, other hotel entertainers had to do the same due to no working nor living visa. Having to see and hear people you’ve become friends with be stripped away by police and locked away in prison cells was terrifying.

While out in public we had to pretend to be Ukrainian foreign students on a short vacation. We were regularly stopped and asked questions in Russian when just going out to the shop. I normally just nodded. Doing drama and acting in school for many years, I put those skills to use and played the part on the down low.

Finally things settled and work was back to normal again. This involved typical activity days and shows, but hotel guests were still a major problem due to flight bans and cancellations. I was still optimistic things would return to normal.

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Unfortunately the final straw was when the hotel we worked in closed down due to a lack of distance. We were put on the streets within a day as they were unable to provide us with any more work and had to survive on our own.

I went from a uni drop out to a young English person stranded in a desert surrounding holiday resort, no family and having to just get to grips with everything and get on with it. I was secretly bricking it. There was plenty of alcohol to keep our moods on top form, bit of an Arabic sing song and we managed to pull a few strings with local friends to let us stay with them.

The place was deserted with closed hotels everywhere and barely any tourists. Barely any people on the streets or the beach, so many workers fired and returned back to being farmers in their villages.

After all the chaos, stress and drama that happened like a dominoes effect I returned back to the UK, shaken by everything I had witnessed and experienced going through the airport was the least of my worries.

Having blonde hair certainly hoped. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, but the hair just seems to keep me out of any trouble. The whole experience gave me enough life experience to last any lifetime, and I certainly learned more than I would have at university.

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