Take off your winter boots, pull on your moccasin & “Move On”

Lesson from ERASMUS “on the move” to
Pharos University, Alexandria, Egypt

Although ever since the turn of the millennium, the mobility of students and researchers from all over the world to Scandinavia, more-closer to UEF has increased, however mobility for students/ professionals to different medical Universities to Egypt from UEF is stagnated. Having the support of Erasmus+ mobility program between Pharos University in Alexandria (PUA) and University of Eastern Finland, I took off my winter boots and pulled on my moccasin when with dr. Aisha Banafa (early stage researcher at Institute of Dentistry), we were the first ever staff members from our University under the umbrella of ERASMUS Mobility prorgram, in Alexandria, Egypt.

Visiting Pharos University in Alexandria, it was a great deal to recognize many untapped opportunities during our official meetings with Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Mohy El-Din /President of Pharos University/, Prof. Dr. Nourhan Fanaki /Vice President for student affairs/, Prof. Dr. Yehia Ashour, /Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry/, Prof. Dr. Fayza Eldaly /Vice dean of the Faculty of Dentistry/, Dr. Mohamed Ragab /Secretary general of the University/, Dr. Mennatallah Gowayed /Chief officer of the international relations of the University/ and Dr. Nancy Bedwani /officer of the international relations at Faculty of Dentistry/  to increase  visibility of our preclinical and clinical education and research at PUA, facilitating the breakthrough of deeper discussion in dental educational exports/imports between PUA & UEF.

We tried also to discover and highlight possible common interest in dental applied research for the future.

I wish to believe that presenting our high-end educational and research competence at PUA during this mobility and receiving remarkably effective way their quality feedbacks and learning more about the facility and staff at Dental Faculty of PUA might promote further networking in education, bilateral exchange of professionals and the dental students which in the future might also end up in common research interest and projects.

After these brainstorming meetings it was also unique experience to discover the streets of Alexandria, the country’s window onto the Mediterranean Sea.

Are You interested on anything more
about this “On the move” in moccasin?

You even might ask, why to travel to PUA from a University like UEF having so exclusive ranks?

I should tell you, that without personalized reporting is hard to summarize anything more, however might be the most important thing is, to answer why we visited PUA, in Alexandria. It is simple: we wanted to complete the professional mission agreed on earlier in an ERASMUS agreement between our Uni`s. I am happy to say, we reached our major goals, so I wish to believe our ERASMUS mission is completed. Moreover, during active and face-to-face dialogues to President of PUA, Secretary General, Deans, Professors, visiting dental clinical practices and giving lectures we were able to discover the similarities and differences in dental curriculums/ practical issues existing between PUA and UEF education. So I personally feel that PUA in Alexandria at near-middle east and its dental education system is not as much far from our basic dental standards, as we expected before this trip.

We were able to map and compare accurately the curricular content, teaching methods and assessment techniques, core facilities used in dental preclinical/clinical programs at PUA.

Second, we had to took off our winter boots, because Egypt offers something of what Kuopio might not have it during early spring time: massive positive Celsius with vivid street life even after sunset.

Although I am having several 100s of thousands kilometer behind my back, as a driver from middle of (K)nowhere I felt challenging the everyday trafficking in Alexandria. There are thousands, if not millions, of trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles and pedestrians sharing the same infrastructure DAY & NIGHT.

The second thing, that Egypt driver`s national anthem: car horns. Egyptian traffic is notorious for it. They use car horns to say “Hello”, to warn “Watch out I am merging into your lane whether you like it or not,” and to shout “WTF, why are you stopped!”.

Finally, a two-lane road is not actually a two-lane road. A two-lane road is often transformed into a three, four or even five lane road by drivers according to actual situations. In extreme cases cars are driven in “random” directions while relaxed civilians crossing the street at the middle of nowhere, extra “spiced” with fiacres, as it shown below.

Our drivers were superb, accurate towards traffic rules and laws while our transportation, but after 3 days “on the move“ I started to agree with their statements “A car in Egypt without any scratch or bump, is only exist in the showroom”.  Thanks God we did not increased “bumps”. So although the traffic looked for us a kind of endeavor but thanks to our expert dental drivers to dr. Mohamed Saad Islami and dr. Ahmed Yassen, we survived “on the move” in Alexandrian traffic, too.

Third, in Alexandria, you’re never more than a few steps away from the sea, which never freeze, so I really enjoyed to pull on only my moccasin. Entering the town even midnight (our flight arrived after 1 PM) was an invitation to fascinating insights into its proud past embedded, since only few cities of the world have a history as rich and glorious as that of Alexandria with so vivid present.

The feeling continued next coming days when we could shortly discover the atmosphere of gripping mosques, the beach, the casino strip of the Corniche, some lovely ancient gardens with thriving markets and some more places shown.

Fourth, as a Dentist & Anatomist, to be at PUA offered me new experiences, which gained information motivates me for further fune-tuning of my on educational style moving on back to UEF.  You know “Anatomist” always have different instincts, “age dependent experience”, or derive more please for the process of education development than others, expecially if different cultural background does exist between parties, like Scandinavia and Egypt.

At last but not at least, during the ERASMUS mobility travel we had even side effect: injecting something interesting and meaningful to our mind and explored their non-obvious cultural influence on preclinical/dental dental and medical education, which is sometimes more valuable that the brainstorming results itself.

Taken everything together, if passion drives you, you should visit PUA and Alexandria, since only few cities of the world have a history as rich and glorious as that of Alexandria, and PUA University might have developing connection to UEF in the future, so let reason hold U´r reins.

We hope also that through a forming frame of bidirectional exchange we can say in the future to visitors from PUA:

Tervetuloa Kuopioon

Finally, at this surface thanks for all the help we received from the Alexandrian hosts and UEF side, as well which made our journey really smooth.

Szabolcs Felszeghy