Cairo is the greatest city on Earth. Past Review

By (International Relations and Affairs., George Washington University) for

AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I cannot articulate enough how truly incredible my study abroad experience was. How many people can say they've been to Siwa, Luxor, Aswan, Turkey, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula, seen horses dance, gone clubbing in the most extravagant places (which Cairo has--the nightlife is incredible!), eaten Kombella (which means bomb), done parkour in Masr Gedida, dated a Jordanian National Swimmer, witnessed a Revolution, been evacuated to Jordan by way of Greece, visited Israel and Palestine, been to the deserts of Wadi Rum and seen Petra, now speak Egyptian and Jordanian Arabic dialects, have seen the sunrise between the Pyramids, shopped at Khan el-Khalily, ridden a falouka, and stayed up in Cairo in Tahrir Square until dawn? Me. And if I could go back, I wouldn't change any of it.

Review Photos

AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt Photo AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt Photo AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt Photo AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was similar to that of my home university. I still had papers to write, but it was made that much easier given the fact that I was in Cairo and could write about the Middle East from an on-the-ground perspective. I also participated in the Egyptology program and was given the opportunity to take classes from a renown, brilliant Egyptologist and antiquities specialist. Some of my classes were held in the Egyptian museum or the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Other Arabic classes I had were held in local ahuas (coffee shops). While my inside the classroom experiences were great, I loved my experiences outside of the classroom even more.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I give the Amideast program my highest recommendation. The Cairo program is fantastic. The initial complaints I had were that the workload was too heavy given that I was attempting to combine an academically rigorous schedule with my immersion into the culture. It's difficult to do a GWU amount of work and go out and explore every single day, all at once. However, the program really took our critiques to heart, were very lenient in grading, and by second semester the program was essentially tailor-made. It was perfect. I, unfortunately, was unable to really experience most of second semester Cairo given that I was evacuated and here was where my program director stepped in. HE WAS AMAZING!!!!!! I have few words to truly describe what a phenomenal job our Cairo program director did in evacuating us from the country. It was an INCREDIBLE experience and I never felt concerned for my safety once. My experience in Cairo was truly remarkable and Amideast is clearly the best program within the country. It is centrally located in the heart of the big, bustling metropolis; the courses are challenging; the faculty is diverse and composed of brilliant, interesting individuals. Lastly, the program excursions are absolutely wonderful. While there are a LOT of them, my favorites included the 3-day Luxor-Aswan cruise, as well as our trip to the Siwa oasis, near the Libyan border. The places I went and the things I saw were all once in a lifetime experiences, and I know that if I had chosen any other program in Egypt, I wouldn't have had such unique adventures, and wouldn't have had half as much fun.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment was a dream. There's no other way to put it. We called it the princess palace, and it was in a fantastic location in Dokki, just five minutes from downtown and Midan al-Tahrir. Anything you could ever want is just a short walk away from convenience stores, restaurants, bars and clubs, and (for ladies) the greatest hair place of all time.

* Food:

Egyptian food isn't my favorite, but there are great places to eat. If you're reading this you HAVE to go to Ciccio's on Sharia Souria (Syria Street). It's fantastic. Also, go to ahuas as often as you can, particularly Boursa on Sharia Tahrir.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Field trips=fantastic. Luxor, Aswan, valley of the Kings, Siwa and sandboarding, the pyramids, Dashur and Karnak temples, the Whirling Dervishes, falouka rides...the list goes on and on...

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I had a retainer that I lost. I needed to get a new one and the dentist my program director took me to was as nice and clean and lovely as any dentist I've ever been to in the US. They made me a new retainer that was gorgeous, which is unfortunate because I lost that one too.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

My Egyptian Arabic skills are now great! Being as I am brown, I have been mistaken for Egyptian both in Cairo and back here in DC where I continue to seek out Egyptian Arabic speakers. While abroad I did most of my language learning outside of the classroom. I participated in the language buddy program and through a student on the program, met Egyptians that continue to be an active part of my life, today. In Cairo, I went out a LOT. Whenever anyone invited me to do anything, I made sure that I participated actively--whether it was watching a horse-dancing competition or eating Kombella at Karnak in Wast al-Balad! I LOVED my experiences and the friendships I made in Cairo, and can't wait to get back as soon as possible. It was important to use Egyptian Arabic in everyday interactions though the majority of people you meet do speak some (often very poor) English. Thus, once my Arabic got to a point where it was better than the average individual's English, it became the automatic language to fall back on. This is very crucial--YOU HAVE TO PUSH YOURSELF! Because, while my Arabic skills improved exponentially, there were many students on my program who stuck to their small, American bubbles, and did not improve as much.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The location of the school, apartments, etc.
  • The language buddy program (I met such amazing people!)
  • The excursions!!!
* What could be improved?
  • A less rigorous workload
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Only two words: BE ADVENTUROUS! If you're looking to have the most interesting and incredible time of your life, go to Cairo.