My colloquial Egyptian Arabic improved greatly Past Review

By (Arabic; Judaic Studies, SUNY - Binghamton) for

Study Abroad in Egypt at the American University in Cairo

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot more patience from this experience due to the bureaucratic mess on the AUC campus. Also, I got to see how a tiny segment of the upper class of Egypt lives and thinks.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: American University in Cairo
The term and year this program took place: Fall 2009

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I did well in my classes, but I didn't take a full course load and I don't think my professors had enough time to carefully grade our last assignments. Due to the hectic influence of swine flu breaks coupled with a severe lack of online communication, the learning process became so crammed that it wasn't as effective as it should have been.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Students were very poorly informed about steps to take for registration etc and about class offerings, especially in the Arabic department. For instance, I was stuck in a class that was 4 chapters behind me in the textbook, but I only found that out after class started. My other immediate option was a class four chapters ahead of me. Only after two weeks did I hear about an accelerated program, and that from a fellow student--by then it was too late. Most students had to scramble from place to place trying to find both what they needed to do and where to get it done.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

There were no kitchen facilities, but other than that and normal hygiene issues, the dorm was spacious and fairly comfortable. There is wireless access in all of the rooms, but much of the time it didn't work well. The small computer lab downstairs worked most of the time. <br /><br /> The dorms were in a nice part of the city that wasn't too far from places to visit in the city, but they are so far from the new campus. It takes an average of an hour to get to and from campus. The alternative dorm housing, however, is in New Cairo, which means that to get to the city and out of the AUC bubble it takes an hour.

* Food:

Dorm food was ok, but it was often greasy and much of it tasted the same very quickly. The portions were almost too large and at the same time were overpriced. However, it was easy to get good food a short walk away in Zamalek.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The dorms organized a few good trips, but they mostly served to create an international bubble and not inter-cultural interaction. Essentially, we were treated like tourists when we came here to study and learn about the culture, not just "do the sites".

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Hygiene was a big problem in the dorms. It was addressed, but the problem was never fixed. Also, the bus system did not always feel safe due to traffic conditions and some driver's driving styles.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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? Since the Egyptian pound is worth so much less than the dollar, if you eat Egyptian food most of the time (it's cheaper and still healthy if you eat right) than don't be too stingy to splurge on trips to other places in Egypt (especially Siwa!) and on entrance fees to places like museums and the pyramids. Also, learn to use the metro and buses as quickly as will save you a lot of money!


Language acquisition improvement?

My colloquial Egyptian Arabic improved greatly, but mostly because of interactions with Egyptian friends after the semester ended. My Modern Standard Arabic improved only slightly due to a lack of any class at the same place where I was, recquiring me to review for half of the semester.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Get a language partner as soon as possible.