Challenging but exceptionally rewarding Past Review

By (American University) - abroad from 08/24/2013 to 12/21/2013 with

AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Egypt is always worthwhile. There is a reason it is called "Um al-Dunia," Mother of the World. There is so much life to learn from in Cairo. Egypt taught me that nothing is black and white and everything is connected. I've gained independence, further curiosity about the world, and a feeling of investment in culture, people, and language other than my own.

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

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.

I know from previous experience and from Egyptian friends, that the education system in Egypt is lack luster, so I as very pleasantly surprised when AMIDEAST's class were vigorous, interesting, challenging! Language classes were bit bumpy though.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I love Egyptian food, and it's cheap. There are also tons of foreign food restaurants around. But you’re stomach will need to adjust.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This is hard. AMIDEAST does a great job getting you out and involved. But there is a certain point where you have to go out on your own, and you have to make time outside of the AMIDEAST schedule, which is packed with classes, dialogues, trips, and tours.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Hospitals are different in Egypt, but clean and numerous. Same for pharmacies. Program staff provided transport, accompanied me to the hospital, and negotiated with hospital staff for me.

* Safety:

Egypt is in the news a lot, but most of that is exaggerated. Even when there is a protest, the city is so big you probably won't see it, and life continues. You just need to be smart about where you go, and AMIDEAST will let you know what areas are safe or ill-advised. Women should be aware of harassment. Violent crime or attacks are very rare, but staring, degrading cat calls in the street, and some gropings happened to many of the foreign women I know in Cairo.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eating out at nice resturants will get ya.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate College Courses
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Arabic is complicated because you have MSA, formal written Arabic, and then colloquial spoken Arabic. My spoken Arabic did not improve nearly as much as I hoped it would on this program.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The trips and excursions <3
  • The classes
  • The housing and location
* What could be improved?
  • It's too much sometimes, the students are too busy
  • more structured speaking practice opportunities (especially for the girls, it's harder for us to meet people)
  • The students see A LOT of eachother, sometimes it feels like a bubble
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The program activities won't magically connect you with Egypt. The sooner you strike out on your own the more fulfilled you will be. Also some fruits have a short growing season, so get them while they're fresh and cheap!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Understanding Contemporary Cairo

Course Department: SOCY 340
Instructor: Aya Nassar
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was so interesting, I didn't notice how hard I was working. We had some great site visits, and assignments that allowed us to be creative and investigate the specific areas we were interested in.
Credit Transfer Issues: This class is great because it is very interdisciplinary, so I am going to make it count towards my Environmental Studies major. It could probably fit into a History, Political Science, Arab Region Studies, Media or Literature Studies, Sociology, or Anthropology major, as well.