Sam Shepson contemplates the purchase of a camel at the Camel Market outside of Cairo. Camels are bought and sold for approximately $1,000 (in U.S. dollars).
Overseas Study Program
Sam's majors: Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Culture
Term abroad: Fall 2005
Reason you chose this program: I had studied Arabic for two years, as well as 20th century European and Middle Eastern history, and Cairo was a great place to enrich my knowledge of both. I also really wanted a big city atmosphere. Cairo, a city the size of New York, was an excellent fit.
Favorite classes: Islamic Art and Architecture 650-1250 A.D. and Nationalism and Social Change in the Middle East, 1900-Present. We took serveral field trips for the architecture class, which allowed me to see some beautiful Coptic and Islamic architecture in some of the lesser-traveled parts of Cairo.
Describe the housing situation: I lived in an American University in Cairo (AUC) dorm on Zamalek, an island in the middle of the Nile. Although there were about 50 Americans in the dorm, it was also home to many Egyptians, as well as groups from Britain and Norway. The location was fantastic, although I recommend getting your own apartment.
Greatest challenge: Avoiding other Americans! They’re everywhere, so you really need to make an effort to break out of your comfort zone and forge new relationships with Egyptians.
Best memory: Climbing Mt. Sinai in the middle of the night and watching the sunrise at the summit. It was quite a sight.
Experiences with culture shock or reverse culture shock: The milk in Egypt is terrible, and I really love milk. What was more difficult was the transition back to life in the States. Every week in Egypt I did something new and exciting, so life seemed a little boring when I returned home.
Advice to future study abroad participants: Travel as much as you can. Cairo is close to amazing destinations on three continents! Also, consider living with a host family or in an apartment of your own. Real estate is cheap, and you’ll be more immersed in the Egyptian culture.