Go to School on Campus, do not Live Here December 13, 2018

By (The American University in Cairo) - abroad from 09/02/2018 to 06/01/2020 with

Study Abroad in Egypt at the American University in Cairo

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It definitely was. I had been wanting to move to Egypt for years, and this was a great way to transition me into it. As much as I disagree with the dominant societal values, I will likely stay here. There's an authenticity in this country (outside the uni) that I never saw back home.

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.

I truly love being a student here. The caliber of education is so much higher than that of my undergraduate institution back in the United States. The professors are unbelievably qualified with not one, but two out of three of mine this semester having taught at Harvard. But prestigious doesn't make them pompous. They have been nothing but helpful and supportive throughout my time here. I just wish they had kept classes at the Tahrir campus instead of moving us to an elite district in the middle of the desert where there is nothing to do but go to Westernized shopping malls.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Administration was competent once I arrived on campus. They were always friendly enough, but I had numerous problems where no one across various departments would respond to my emails while I was trying to enroll. Even when I would pay to place international calls, I would rarely get an answer and there is no system of voice mail. Luckily, they have an office in New York I was able to call nearly every day until I got some sort of an answer.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in the on-campus dorms as they were free per my fellowship and I did not want to try to sign a lease from abroad. This was a mistake. The housing office acts like our parents, with a curfew, ban on visitors of the opposite sex (even though contrary to popular belief, premarital sex is not illegal in Egypt), alcohol (even though wine is required for my religious services), and smoking. I had more freedom at the age of 15. Although in all fairness, the majority of residents at the dorms act as if they are much younger. Many have never cooked or cleaned for themselves and the level of entitlement I have encountered here throughout the last 4 months is like nothing I have ever seen before.

* Food:

I love Egyptian food. AUC has many food outlets on campus, and across the street there are two malls with almost every type of restaurant you can imagine. However, this is a wealthy area in a country where meat is still considered a sign of wealth. Whereas there are vegetarian options, more should be offered on campus especially.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

When this school opened in 1919, the campus was located in Tahrir Square, literally the center of the country. In 2008, they moved to a satellite city about 40 minutes away from Downtown Cairo where real estate prices were set at a minimum literally so that only the upper class could afford to live here. It is very boring. The only thing close by are shopping malls and there is little public transport so getting to "real Cairo" is a challenge. I could literally write a book about how much I hate this district.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I started classes the first week of September and didn't get my health insurance card until December 1. That being said, the clinic on campus did refer to me to a gynecologist at a hospital for an IUD. However, the team at the hospital was incompetent (the doctor asked me if I was married to determined whether "it was possible [I] could be pregnant). There was no knowledge on how to insert IUDs into the cervix of a young woman who had never had children, even though such a thing is simple in my own country. The procedure didn't work, the doctor was horribly condescending, but at least if it had worked, it would have been affordable: $46 instead of the $1800 back in the US.

* Safety:

This campus is too safe. I go through 4 security gates to get to my dorm. It is absurd. As for Cairo, I feel safer walking down the street alone at night here than in America. Egypt has next to no gun violence. What a concept.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I would definitely, I just would get an apartment in the city.

Finances

* 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)

Egypt is unbelievably cheap. I worked full time in undergrad so I spent more money here than I should of because I could and I feel like I have earned it. Including all the money I wasted (which was most of) I probably spent like $250 a month. I also have a fellowship, so all program costs are covered.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 400 le so about $23 on necessities
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't go out to eat anywhere near the university. If you want to go out, take a bus to Downtown and get real Egyptian food. The restaurants here are astronomically more expensive.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
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 quality of faculty
  • Amount of trips to other parts of the country
  • There are a lot of cats
* What could be improved?
  • The dorms could treat us like adults
  • International students should be allowed to take a language course for free each semester
  • Classes in Tahrir
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How awful living on campus is.

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.'