It was an exhausting, unforgettable, thrill ride through a massive Arab city. Past Review

By (Religion/Religious Studies., Grinnell College) - abroad from 01/15/2012 to 05/20/2013 with

AMIDEAST: Cairo - Area & Arabic Language Studies in Egypt

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about letting myself fail and be uncomfortable. I learned how to face the unknown bravely and laugh when I made mistakes. I learned how to communicate without speaking very much. Everything I learned will have a profound impact on me for years to come.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were as intense as my other college courses, despite having condensed class time. Their resources were limited by the small size of the program, but for most research projects they were more than sufficient.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrative staff is incredible. They took personal interest in each of us and were really open to listening to our goals, desires, areas of interest etc. I had such a wide variety of cultural experiences which I credit entirely to the administrative team. Not one moment of my time was wasted.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Though the apartments at times broke, they were otherwise extremely comfortable. The administrators were very good at fixing all problems in as timely a fashion as is possible in Egypt.

* Food:

I still have dreams about eating Egyptian food. With a little sense of adventure we found some incredible places to eat and eat cheaply.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There was always an insurmountable cultural barrier and I was constantly afraid to close social encounters. The program, however, helped me take steps and push myself into meeting with people and confronting various aspects of the local culture. I may never be an Egyptian but I did feel at home in Cairo and within a few weeks I felt like I could become a part of the fabric of life.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe. If anything the program was a bit overcautious, though I certainly understand why. We were put on "house arrest" several times to prevent close encounters with political protests. On a day to day basis I think we were all given good enough advice to take care of ourselves on the streets and in the metro and in taxis etc. No students found themselves in unsafe situations.

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)

Cairo is very cheap and there were ways to make it even cheaper.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook food in your apartment, shop in the local markets. Don't let people sell you useless tourist gifts. Think in the local currency, not in dollars.


* 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

There was constant pressure to speak Arabic.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? One semester of 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? Just speak it constantly to people on the streets. Do not let them convince you to speak in English. Don't be afraid of sounding stupid. You will make mistakes but you will also get better if you just try nonstop.

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?
  • Experience of living in the city.
  • Administrative staff and teachers
  • Extracurricular activities
* What could be improved?
  • Class schedules
  • Colloquial classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Constant immersion in a language can actually drastically improve my skills and my confidence.

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!