It is a city 120 km far from Cairo to the south, where I did my bachelor's degree in chemistry. I started my study there in the year 2000 before I know that I have a neurodegenerative disease (FA), and I am going to use a wheelchair one day. My first symptom was rapidly feeling fatigued. I had to live in a student apartment. I struggled much in both life there and study. Sometimes I had fun though, I also enjoyed student life a lot. At the beginning of 2001, I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia. I did not understand how my disease is progressive. Because (FA) is a rare disease, I did not find anyone can tell me that I will lose most of my functions step by step. I knew that I will end up on a wheelchair in 2006 then I was so depressed, My dreams disappear ….. After my graduation, I spent a couple of years staying home, but I was doing my best to get a job or do anything with my chemistry degree…. I was applying for many scholarships around the world, and I lost hope to get any, and I told myself “you are crazy you should look for reasonable goals”. I gave up applying. Finally, I got a scholarship to study for a master's degree in Sweden, after I was giving up for a couple of months I did not even check my email. How lucky!
It is a wordless feeling to live independently while you are in a wheelchair, especially in a new country. Cooking, cleaning, partying, traveling, seeing different and new cultures,
and working…. I can do all those duties after I was dependent on everything. Even that was difficult, but I enjoyed it. It was the first time in my life to leave Egypt. It seems a crazy step when taken by a person with a disability. I found that making international friends is fun and mysterious as most of them have different tongues, cultures, histories, religions …. It is a very strange feeling to hear sensitive news about your country and your people from the television news, as I was abroad in the 25th January evolution, while a lot of people talk and inquire about Egypt everywhere. I knew that theoretical work is the ideal work for me since the work is mostly in computers and rarely in wet labs. So I started to take those mathematical courses with no love at all. I told myself self ‘you have to pass those courses to finish your master's degree, and then you can work outside the academia”. But when I started my master's project, I found the fun which I never found before. My supervisor told me “I am surprised that you are doing well”. I learned there how that the data may be rich by new information; the data needs to be collected in a unique/different order to say something new. I really liked people in the department, and I wanted to strengthen the relationships with them, but I felt that I was a bit strange since I was just a strange student doing his master project for four months only, also I was working alone did not have any project mates. However, I was hoping to work after my master's with those nice people. The bad luck: The satisfaction of my supervisor encouraged me and made me confident that I will continue the work in that field. Before my master's defense, my supervisor passed away. It was a catastrophe, but fortunately, I was helped by another nice supervisor to finish my thesis. After my defense, I found my grades not very high. I went back to the university to ask about the grades, but the professors told me that the old supervisor gave you special care. I did not care that much because I thought that my thesis is very strong because of the effort done to write it, and my English was improved a lot during writing the thesis. I decided to go back to Egypt because I did not have enough money to live in Sweden, but I was a hundred percent sure that I will come back in one month. I feel stupid when I remember that decision I made. I could have borrowed some money to pay my expenses for a couple of months, so I can find a group to work there for free to have proof that I am a very good researcher.
I did my best to develop my skills while I am at home, and I could have done molecular dynamic simulations to some anti-bodies, using Gromacs program. In addition, I developed my software skills in using clusters, and I have learned new programming languages (Python & FORTRAN). I was close many times to get a position. But I fail, because of my disease, I guess. I can tell you many stories. Five years after Sweden I felt that I am a very good researcher, and I did a very good master thesis with small support, also I developed myself a lot during writing the thesis, but I think those things were obvious to me and the passed supervisor. I was very close to get a Ph.D. position in China after the supervisor tested me. She tested me to make sure that I can go forward. I surprised her by getting a high score”91%”. I did not give up applying for such research positions until the beginning of 2019. During 2019 I decided to change my strategy a little, I decided to study a programming language that can help me to redo some of my masterworks, by designing a similar program which I worked on during my master project, so I can publish a new paper, since I had a program do the protein simulation as well as the supercomputers, during my master project. So far it is a very complicated process, so I designed my website :) I might work as a programmer later. I recently realized it might have been good for me not to get a position abroad since my health was getting worse so I might have suffered a lot if I stay alone...