Living it up in Cairo. Past Review

By (Development Studies, University of California - Berkeley) - abroad from 08/26/2012 to 12/21/2012 with

AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I was able to cultivate a deep understanding of Egyptian society and culture. Right now, it's an exciting place to be, and the program does an excellent job of exposing students to the many different aspects, faces and issues of Cairo and Egypt more generally.

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.

AMIDEAST does an absolutely incredible job of hiring rockstar professors and public intellectuals in Egypt to teach their courses. All the classes are very small with around 5-10 students and very enjoyable and interesting.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Awesome. The program director, Matthew, is an incredible resource on everything related to the MENA region, particularly Yemen and Egypt where he has lived and worked and does a great job working with students to really get them to think about what they're learning and doing in Egypt. The rest of the staff-the American program specialist and the two Egyptian interns-were a ton of fun, very professional and I have no complaints about the administration at all.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

AMIDEAST maintains 3 apartments about a half hour walk from the building where classes are held. All 3 apartments are very nice, clean, comfortable places. Honestly, some of the best living arrangements you could possibly have in Cairo.

* Food:

Students are on their own for food. Luckily, almost every restaurant in Cairo delivers, and there are some good restaurants within walking distance. And all the apartments have nice, big kitchens and everything you need to cook for yourself.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There is a 'language buddy' program as part of the program through which students meet Egyptian peers and do organized activities together like field trips around Cairo and 'dialogues' on all sorts of topics from life goals to dating to family life. This was a huge, although somewhat limited, window into the local culture, as the majority of the language buddies seemed to come from the upper classes, but I am still very close with many of them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any problems myself, but everyone who did was taken care of well.

* Safety:

Egypt is a somewhat dangerous place, in terms of the crumbling infrastructure and dangerous traffic, but the program does everything it can to keep students safe. Especially right now during Egypt's ongoing political turmoil and civil unrest, the program keeps students briefed on developments and maintains comprehensive contingency and evacuation plans. For better or for worse, students were asked to remain at the apartments on all days of large protests in the city, and they didn't hesitate to cancel classes if there was any risk to students from traveling between the apartments and the school.

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)

If you live modestly, you don't need to spend more than a few dollars a day; with that said, if you want to drink alcohol frequently, that will quickly get very expensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy food in the street market just NE of Midan Dokki


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? Conversational Arabic
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? Hang out with your language buddies.

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?
  • Academic Courses
  • The Field Trips
  • Language Buddies
* What could be improved?
  • More formal Arabic speaking practice
  • More free time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The schedule is pretty packed, so it's easy to fall into the trap of being too busy all the time to go out on your own adventures. Be diligent with your work, but take the time to get out there and explore the endless metropolis that is Cairo.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!