Cairo Time Past Review

By (International Studies, American University) for

AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes. My language buddy really made my experience amazing. He took me to visit his family, to spend time with his friends and to experience his daily life. My eyes were opening. I appreciated his willingness to share and his excitement to help me to have a great experience. We are still in touch and I will never forget him or anyone else I met; Egyptians are the most hospitable and curious people I have ever come into contact with.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed with a regular academic workload, immediate immersion into Cairo's culture, and a very new sense of adventure, but I quickly got into the groove of Cairo through the program's flexibility and adaptability to student needs. The professors are all experts in their field and were far more serious and learned in their passions than I had ever experienced. On my first day of each class I immediately knew this was going to be a challenging, but amazing, semester. One of the most rewarding experiences was to intern at the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Just to see Egyptian government at work while learning about Egyptology was an amazing and unexpected experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our program director was extremely passionate, knowledgeable, and understanding of any issue that arose. We were able to discuss future plans while in Egypt and when we returned home, as our director had connections in Cairo and back in the States with a breadth of experience that really helped us to find new avenues to explore our interests and find direction for our futures. With an occasional dose of tough love, we were encouraged to go on adventures, to meet new people, and to participate in the very unique city that is Cairo.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had the awesome experience of living in a middle class Cairo neighborhood right in the same building as local Egyptian residents. The apartment was fully furnished, in a convenient location and I always felt safe, especially with our bowab at the door. I truly appreciated getting to live right alongside Egyptians. For Cairo, we were pretty lucky to have such accommodations.

* Food:

I loved the food. It didn't sit well with everyone, but I never had a stomach problem from anything I ate. You have to eat Koshary! By the end of my time abroad I had koshary at least 3 times a week. While this was probably a problem, I found every bowl to be delicious and the prices were unbeatable. You can get so many great sweets and eats for cheap.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My program had bimonthly outings to places all across Egypt, included in the program fee. I loved these outings, especially Siwa. We enjoyed a bedouin party, went sandboarding, swimming at an oasis, and just laid in the desert to stare at the stars; I have never seen a more beautiful night sky. The Nile cruise was great as well and it was a real treat to get to experience all of Egypt, not just Cairo.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt far safer in Cairo than I ever have in NYC. People look out for each other and love to get to know new people. There is an occasional angry taxi driver or misunderstanding, but other pedestrians will always help you out and there are police on every other corner.

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
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

This program was perfect if you want to learn colloquial language. The in-class assignments, outings and homework all contributed to our experience in speaking directly with the Egyptian people. Classes were often held in ahuas (cafes), marketplaces and restaurants where we were encouraged to order, converse, and introduce ourselves to new people in the restaurant. The people were remarkably more than willing to share their political opinions, family history, and life story with us. Most people did not speak English, forcing us to quickly adapt and survive on our own. My only regret is that I did not explore the city further on my own and meet more people.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The new friends I made.
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Adventure. Go on your own adventures and explore. Always choose going out to spend time with new friends over staying inside and studying. You are there to learn about life in the Arab world. Treat this as a one-in-a-lifetime experience, as it is sure to be. Get everything out of it that you can.