Living in Egypt - the single best decision I have ever made. Past Review

By (Environmental Science, Tulane University) for

Study Abroad in Egypt at the American University in Cairo

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I cannot put into words how much studying/living abroad changed my life entirely. I am a science major, but found a new passion for world politics, Middle East culture and languages while I was abroad. I had always traveled abroad before living abroad, but there is no comparison. Living abroad provides experiences and outlooks, which cannot be had at home. I have realized so many things about America, Americans, myself and the world that I would never have realized by staying at home. My future plans have changed, and I would now like to live abroad permanently after completion of my undergraduate degree, possibly in the Middle East again.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academics were easier than those at Tulane University, in almost every aspect for all classes in general. The grading in almost all classes was much more relaxed than at Tulane classes. Teaching methods were primarily the same at both universities - lectures were given usually by power point. However, when I took a lab class at AUC, the professor was much more involved and ran the science lab as opposed to Tulane, where teaching assistants run the labs. The workload at AUC was certainly less than at Tulane, with the exception of one class I took while at AUC. That one class, I expect, would have been the same amount of work at Tulane. Deadlines for assignments in AUC courses were sometimes not recognized.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

AUC staff available solely for abroad students was always available during school days to help with scheduling and registration. However, there was no single person(s) who was/were in charge of abroad students in terms of administration at AUC.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

For the first semester abroad, I lived in university provided dorms. The area where the dorm was located was very, very nice and was one of the most upscale parts of Cairo. However, these particular dorms (in Zamalek) were located in the middle of Cairo, while the campus was on the outskirts of Cairo. About 2 hours, on average, were spent on the bus every day getting to and from the dorm to campus. Items such as silverware, water boilers and clothes hangers had to be purchased. Sheets were provided. The apartment I rented was in the same area as the dorm as was very nice. Nightlife in the area was prevalent and there were plenty of clubs and bars nearby, both basic and upscale.

* Food:

The food services on campus were below average and were also not varied in the types of food available. However, food could be purchased at grocery stores if one were to want to eat at home. Almost any type of restaurant could be found, aside from Mexican and sushi, and the international food was great. Pork product was not available at any grocery store or restaurant, although it could have been found at the occasional resort hotel. I could see it being incredibly difficult for vegans and vegetarians, as most of the food in restaurants contains some type of animal or meat products, even if food is stated as being vegetarian.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Socially, Egypt was very interesting in that some areas were very liberal and others were very conservative, with everything in between. Travel was fascinating in Egypt, and there was a diversity of trips that could be taken - everything from desert safaris to diving in the Red Sea. One particular attraction that I enjoyed in Cairo was the opera house. Not only were the operas affordable for everyone, but they were consistently having other performances such as professional dances, concerts and art shows.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Safety was absolutely not an issue in Egypt - at all times I felt perfectly safe. However, common sense must always be used. The health care system in Egypt is socialized and a small fee is paid to AUC for access. AUC provided doctors and nurses in locations on campus and at dorms. In case of an emergency after hours, hospitals were open at various locations. However, from my limited experience in observing doctors in Egypt, I would say that they are acceptable but not as good as doctors in the area of my home university. There were no health issues in Egypt while I was there and no vaccines were required, although some were recommended. Personally, I found that no vaccines were really needed. Also, many drugs can be found over the counter at pharmacies in Egypt that you would need a prescription for in America. Consulting with a pharmacist in Egypt about minor health issues (cold, flu, etc.) is much more convenient than going to a doctor, my personal opinion.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I believe about $105 was spent on food per week (at most), but was sometimes as little as $40 per week was spent. Personal items were a little less than they would be in America, but about $5 per week was spent. Cab fares ran anywhere between $5 and $15 per week, but that is the main way of transportation. On drinks, I probably spent $15 per week, on average.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? As for AUC expenses, they were all clearly stated before arrival. I anticipated expenses for travel, but I think many other students did not. Travel, if one is interested, is where most money is spent.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Two semesters of formal Arabic prior to departure
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Almost all locals were more than happy to speak Arabic with foreigners, and most were surprised that I even tried to speak in a language other than English. Arabic was not required for everyday interactions, as a good amount of locals spoke at least some English. It was also nice that most of my foreign friends were taking Arabic and that we could practice speaking with each other.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Students considering studying/living in Egypt on any program should have a relaxed attitude and plenty of patience. I thought I was patient when I moved to Egypt, but I left twice as patient. One also has to go with the flow there, whether it is with the university program or travel. Also, you have to be willing to try new things!