New York University Excavations at Amheida Past Review

By (Anthropology., Barnard College) for

Study Abroad Programs in Egypt

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am so glad I went on this program, I never would have gotten to Egypt or gotten to do archaeology any other way, and for that it was totally worth it. That said, it was surprisingly stressful, not really because of the program (although it was a lot of work) but because of the intensity of being around the same 11 other students 24 hours a day for three months. That is a long time. Still, I did learn more about my own wants and needs and peculiarities by meeting both new people I adored and people I wasn't too excited to be around. For the ones I adored, I bonded with them in a way I never would have in a less intense situation, and for the ones I didn't love, it was comforting to know that it was only three months and now that I'm home I am no longer trapped with those people. I especially appreciate the freedom to spend time with people who I really enjoy, and devote my time to things that make me happy and interested and excited. Which include archaeology, but aren't limited to it. Overall, this is a concentrated three month experience - a lot of learning and traveling is stuffed in there, and you come out of it needing a vacation. But it is a well designed program and you DO get a vacation when you're done, so it's all worth it.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months
The term and year this program took place: Spring 2010

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload is different from normal college, because you are only taking one class at a time, you don't have weekends, and you aren't completing typical assignments. Instead you are doing readings and preparing presentations. Still, I think it's pretty effective at getting across the unorthodox things the program is trying to teach - history, yes, Egyptian history, yes, but also the actual methods of archaeology and a love for experiencing your subjects of study first-hand.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration WAS our professor, "Director of Students." She was very anxious to take care of us if we felt we needed it, and was almost always accessible to be questioned or asked for help. She really wanted to offer us support, which was very nice to be aware of.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Dig house for first two months, hotels for the 3rd. <br /><br /> The Dig House was pretty nice considering where it is located - extremely rural Egypt. The toilets and showers aren't the greatest, but totally bearable, and the rooms remain relatively cool in the day and relatively warm at night, due to the thick mud brick walls. The food was quite good, and the area pretty safe (empty!) although I don't know whether I would recommend anyone walking around alone - especially not girls. It was a 30 minute walk from town, which was inconvenient, but there wasn't much in town anyway, so it didn't really matter very much. Strangely, we were only given one sheet and two blankets for our beds, so we didn't have a top sheet, basically, and slept directly under the blankets. I wished I had brought a sleep sack to make up for this.

* Food:

At first I thought the food was AMAZING, but by the end of the two months I was pretty sick of all of it. I also gained some weight because I wasn't familiar with the food we were eating. During the third month, we were never sure when we would be getting lunch, so we always stuffed ourselves at breakfast to try to prevent ourselves from being too hungry, which didn't work but made me eat much less healthily than I would have otherwise.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It totally depends on the students who come, but there are only 12 of you, so you can begin to feel trapped with one another pretty easily. It can be stressful. Be sure to bring lots of books to read, movies to watch, and games to play, and try to reach out to the archaeologists as well as the students so that you can ensure you have a few different people to spend time with if you need it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We were in rural Egypt, so health care wasn't going to be amazing, but when problems came up they were addressed adequately by our professor and Egyptian guide, both of whom were anxious to help, and got a girl to the hospital when she developed a kidney stone.

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? Egypt is SUPER cheap. I spent $100 for the entire 3 months, and that's only because I wanted to buy myself snacks and candy.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan to bring about $100 or $150 in cash at the start of the program, change it at the bank in the airport, and you won't have to worry about money again. If you expect to buy a TON of souvenirs bring more, but I can nearly guarantee you won't need it.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

We took Arabic classes for 1 month, but not very intensely, and I forgot everything quite quickly. I don't really feel I learned how to speak Egyptian Arabic, except a few numbers - basically I can bargain in Arabic now. This is because we were constantly surrounded by each other or the foreign archaeologists - not Egyptians.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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? Pack yourself chocolate, come with an open mind, and don't forget that it is okay to take care of yourself. You don't have to force yourself to "rough it" and grit your teeth through three months. It will be a great experience, but give yourself moments of relaxation and indulgence (hence, the chocolate, or whatever else makes you happy. Little creature comforts like candy will seem like incredible luxuries by the time you've been in Egypt for a few weeks).