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Ayah Osman ’22 talks about the ups and downs of getting to travel to an entirely different continent to see extended relatives, and the experiences that come with it.

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Wadi Halfa city in Sudan

Wadi Halfa city in Sudan

Galyna Andrushko

Wadi Halfa city in Sudan

Galyna Andrushko

Galyna Andrushko

Wadi Halfa city in Sudan

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It’s summer, and you’re walking down the sidewalk, accompanied by a symphony of traffic. The foul aroma of exhaust invades your nostrils and a cloud of smoke drifts towards your face. The light turns green, and the cars around you rev their engines. The noise is so loud, you can barely hear your own thoughts. Ayah Osman ‘22 has been visiting her relatives in Sudan for as long as she can remember, and each time she does, “It’s like, way more chaotic,” Ayah said. “It’s crazy. Like, there’s no stop lights, there’s no police, there’s no nothing. There’s just nothing. Like basically everybody is just on their own, and they can just do whatever they want and not get in trouble.”

For Ayah, the chaos of Sudan doesn’t distract from the real reason she’s there. “My favorite thing is probably, like, visiting family and stuff, that I haven’t seen for a while, because the summer was the first time I’ve seen them in like seven, eight years.”

You don’t know how [your family has] changed, and like, a lot of the time they don’t know how you’ve changed,”

— Mihad Osman '22

And Ayah’s sister, Mihad Osman ’22 said that it’s especially unique to be able to connect with family after such a long time, because you can really see the difference from the last time you saw them. “You don’t know how [your family has] changed, and like, a lot of the time they don’t know how you’ve changed,” Mihad said.

When Ayah isn’t spending time with her family, she’s focused on her cat. “They gave it to me as a present in Sudan, so I used to have a pet cat over there,” Ayah said. “Every time I visit Sudan, there’d be my cat still waiting over there.” While she isn’t visiting family in Sudan, her family takes care of her cat until the next time she can see it.

But when she’s not at home playing with her cat, she goes sightseeing. According to Ayah, there’s a lot more greenery than one might expect. “When Sudan gets brought up it’s like, dust and sand and stuff.” Osman also explained that It’s more crowded in Sudan than in the US. “There’s way more buildings than over here,” she said. “It’s like, they’re really crowded and stuff, there’s like mostly broken down buildings, like they’re not the best looking buildings that you’ll ever see.”


Mihad also said that the place has the potential to be really beautiful underneath all of the trash and rubble that litters the streets.

Aside from the fun of reuniting with extended family, Sudan has a lot to offer for her. “My favorite thing to do there is probably eat out, because they have really good food down there.” And according to Ayah, they have a lot of twists on more common foods that we have in the US. “It’s like, very exotic, you know? Like, they have a pizza place and then they take the pizza and they turn it into a whole other thing. Like they add more stuff to it and make it taste like, a whole different way,” Ayah said. Mihad added that the pizza is so big that, “you would have to hold one slice with like, both of your hands.” But you can’t just walk into any old restaurant and expect to have an amazing experience. “The restaurants there – like you just gotta know where the good restaurants are to have a good time,” Ayah said.

To most, the scariest part of traveling is flying, but for Ayah, international transport isn’t a huge deal. “Flying, like when you’re taking off, it feels really cool. I know a lot of people get really scared sometimes when they’re taking off, but I feel like it feels really cool – like when you look out the window and see the airplane going up,” she said. And Mihad even enjoys the trip. “Especially if you have a window seat you can look out and like, see the airplane cutting through the clouds.”

So, even though, as Mihad says, “Iowa’s a little dry,” and it may not be as fun, both of them came to the agreement that they’d pick Iowa over Sudan any day.

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