Student Life

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The prospect of studying abroad can be an exciting and daunting one at the same time. Arab Academy’s friendly and caring staff and teachers want you to feel at home during your time studying with us.

The prospect of studying abroad can be an exciting and daunting one at the same time. Arab Academy’s friendly and caring staff and teachers want you to feel at home during your time studying with us.

We understand that you want to see and experience as much as possible of Cairo and Egypt and its vibrant life and rich heritage while developing your skills in the Arabic language, so our programs integrate cultural excursions into the curriculum. We also know that you may want to take your experience a step further and gain valuable work experience as an intern or contribute something back to your host community as a volunteer and we help arrange such opportunities for our students.

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Arab Academy is located in a quiet upscale neighborhood of Cairo called Garden City, a mere 2 minute walk to the banks of the Nile and 10 minutes from Tahrir square. Our location is also within walking distance of the Cairo metro. Studying in Cairo offers you a portal into Egypt’s rich historic past and contemporary present. It is not uncommon to see the juxtaposed landscape dotted with sky scrapers and large-domed mosques from earlier Islamic periods.

Garden City is a highly desirable location for foreigners to live in because of the relative quiet it receives from the outside traffic. Students can easily stroll down its tree-lined streets and step into a shaded cafe for tea or eat special Egyptian cuisine at popular yet outdoor restaurants that prepare and serve fresh food well into the night. Students will be well shielded from the barrage and noise of daily traffic, but within walking distance to the city center shops, cafes and nightlife. Students of Arabic become more confident in their Arabic speaking skills as they are constantly immersed in the language.

The cost of living and tuition in Cairo is relatively low compared to North America and Europe. Students who study Arabic with Arab Academy learn more while spending less than they would spend studying Arabic at universities in their home countries.

The city of Cairo is home to chaotic and unpredictable traffic patterns. On the other hand, Cairo and Egypt in general offer a much wider variety of transport options both public and private at different prices and they often do not require any advance reservations, making spontaneous travel within and beyond Cairo easy and affordable to students.

Egypt is a country at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East and students who study at Arab Academy enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere that the city of Cairo offers. They also find Cairo to be the ideal base to explore the rest of Egypt, either as part of Arab Academy organized trips or on their own. Egypt offers pristine beaches with snorkeling and scuba diving, beautiful deserts, spectacular ancient monuments and lush green countryside. A break of one week or more is scheduled during each semester so that students may take advantage of the opportunities to travel.

Arab Academy recognizes that for many of our students, their stay in Cairo may be the first time they have lived abroad or even visited Egypt. Upon enrollment, we send students a pre-departure handbook that helps them to prepare for life here in advance. Students in our semester and academic year programs go through an orientation session upon arrival as well and our teachers often serve as a source of informal advice to students who have just arrived in Cairo.

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Housing

The logistics of finding accommodation in Cairo can be facilitated by the Arab Academy. Students who come for short term programs typically stay in small hotels near the Academy so that they are able to easily commute to and from class. Semester and year students usually prefer to live in an apartment, either on their own or with roommates.

Arab Academy is located in Garden City, a quiet, upscale neighborhood next to downtown Cairo. Students who prefer to be within walking distance often choose to live here. Other reasonably priced neighborhoods within walking distance of Arab Academy that students may wish to consider include downtown, Munira and Manial. Neighborhoods that are further away but easily accessible by the Cairo Metro include Maadi, Mohandiseen and Doqqi. The island of Zamalek is also a short taxi ride from Arab Academy.
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We recognize that students often prefer to see the place where they will live before agreeing to take it. They may have differing budgets, and like to choose their own roommates or prefer to live alone. Therefore, we do not rent flats directly to students. What we do is arrange appointments with agents for students to see apartments within their price range with the facilities they require. Agents normally charge 20% of the rental cost as a commission.

Flats are normally rented fully furnished and you will likely only need to purchase a few things to make your home livable. A decent quality apartment can generally be found starting $500 a month, depending on location, quality of furnishings and whether you live on your own or with roommates.

We recommend that students who plan to arrange accommodation on their own book a hotel for their initial arrival so that they have a place to stay while searching for an apartment.

Our orientation for semester and year students includes vocabulary and scenarios for dealing with apartment living in Cairo.
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Meals

Students are responsible for their own meals. There are several take away restaurants serving Egyptian food within close walking distance of Arab Academy. Western chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Hardee’s are not much further away and they also offer deliveries to your home or classroom. Restaurants in Cairo cater to all budgets, with meals costing anywhere from less than a $1 up to $50 at fancy restaurants. Most restaurants (even McDonald’s) offer home delivery, with orders placed by phone or online. Egyptian food is usually the least expensive option but a number of foreign cuisines can be found as well. Vegetarians and vegans will find a wide range of typical Egyptian dishes available to suit their dietary requirements.

Our orientation for semester and year abroad students covers the Arabic needed to shop for food to cook at home early on during the period of study. Cairo has modern supermarkets where one can do one-stop shopping and find many imported foods, while almost every neighborhood has a traditional market with fresh produce and meats and sellers specializing in certain foods, and which offer more opportunities to practice Arabic. A diet rich in vegetables, beans and fish can be quite inexpensive, whereas meat and poultry is more expensive.

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Safety

In general, Egypt is a safe place to live and travel. Given its location in the Middle East, many people overestimate the impact of conflicts in neighboring countries on them while in Egypt.  Public demonstrations are common but they are also highly policed to prevent them from getting out of control. Terrorist attacks are infrequent and most often occur in tourist resorts outside of Cairo. For the latest security information, we rely on a host of information providers connected to the U.S. government.

We caution students to use the same judgment and common sense as they would in their home countries: to be aware of their surroundings and to be cautious going anywhere with a stranger alone. What is considered criminal or unacceptable behavior in Egypt is not that different from other countries and in some cases even more strict especially with regards to days of vowcetics. The rate of crime against foreign students living in Egypt is fairly low.

However, recent reports produced by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights and other foreign and Egyptian news agencies reveal that public sexual harassment, especially verbal harassment, against foreign and Egyptian women is prevalent especially throughout Cairo and tourist resorts. However, violent crime such as rape and murder is rare. While incidents of violence are rare, purse-snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft does occur. To avoid theft, students should keep an eye on their valuables especially in crowded areas and be conscious of their surroundings. Students should use caution when using public transport. While most forms of transport in Cairo are safe, even if crowded, intercity travel by motor vehicle at night is inadvisable. Intercity roads are generally in good condition, but unmarked surfaces, stray animals, and disabled vehicles without lights or reflectors are among the many hazards that can be encountered on highways. We discuss with students how they can protect themselves in a variety of situations during our orientation sessions.

 

Health

Egypt’s physicians are considered among the best in the Middle East and Africa. Arab Academy is located within walking distance of the top university hospital in Egypt and many private hospitals are found close by. Optional local health insurance is available for those who do not have a plan from home that will cover them. We can also refer and accompany students to doctors and mental health providers as necessary.

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Arab Academy’s classroom programs are distinctive in that excursions and outings accompanied by instructors are an integral and required part of some of Arab Academy’s courses, especially the semester/year and special summer sessions. These allow you to put into practice the Arabic you have learned and experience the culture firsthand. You will have the unique opportunity to see and experience Egypt with native Egyptian speakers of Arabic, providing a rewarding experience culturally and academically. Students tell us they retain the Arabic they learn better because they used it in a real-life setting.

There are several breaks during the academic year and a longer holiday between semesters. Arab Academy may organize optional trips to places like Alexandria, Upper Egypt, Sinai, the Red Sea coast or the Western Desert during these times depending on demand that students may join. We may also offer intersession courses during these periods that can be taken for credit, both in Cairo or while traveling.

Independent travel is also possible. Transportation and some hotels in Egypt are inexpensive and often require no advance booking making weekend trips from Cairo to various cities in Egypt easy and inexpensive. Some students also like to take advantage of Egypt’s strategic location to travel throughout the Middle East during breaks or even for a long weekend.

Your Arab Academy student id card will get you a discount off the price of admission to some historical sites and museums.

volunteerInvolvement in local life is a great way to practice Arabic and understand Middle Eastern culture. Cairo has many local and international companies and organizations that welcome volunteer. Students can choose from a variety of activities that engage with local communities such as teaching English to Egyptian youth or refugee communities and doing arts and crafts with underprivileged children. Students interested in gender issues in the region can choose NGOs related to the empowerment of women. Our goal is to encourage a cross-cultural bridge between foreign students and Egyptians. Giving back to communities in need strengthens the bond between both worlds.

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The prospect of studying abroad is an exciting chance for personal growth for your child and we would like to offer some practical information and useful tips to help ease your concerns and anxiety about sending your child abroad.

Ensure Your Child’s Safety: Safety is the biggest concern for most parents of students studying abroad.

Concerns associated with the Middle East revolve largely around terrorist attacks on Westerners. Arab Academy is located in a safe upscale neighborhood in central Cairo about 10 minutes walk from the American and British embassies. The area is well-patrolled by police due to the presence of many embassies, banks and hotels.
We have long-standing relationships with landlords in the neighborhood surrounding Arab Academy and other nearby neighborhoods in Cairo.We can assist students in locating housing in fully furnished flats that we have inspected to ensure they are safe and clean. In general, students do not need to worry about discrimination or harassment in Egypt based on their religion or country of origin. Egypt receives millions of foreign tourists every year and Egyptians, while they may not agree with the foreign policies of other countries, recognize that individuals from other countries who come to Egypt do not represent their governments and show great tolerance and interest in foreigners.
Study abroad tragedies thus are few and far between, but educate your student on ways to stay safe and healthy in another country. Here are some things about which we suggest you talk to them:

  • They should register upon arrival with your country’s embassy. Some governments, like the American government, now make it easy to register online (https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/) and keep citizens informed by email of security concerns of which they need to be aware.
  • In an emergency, tell them to contact your embassy or consulate. They should keep the emergency phone number of the embassy with them at all times.
  • Students must be encouraged to continue using common sense while studying abroad. Advise them to take the precautions they take at home, as well as new ones. Advise them to avoid political demonstrations, to only take modes of public transport identified as safe and to keep their passport in a safe place on their person at all times.
  • Establish emergency procedures prior to departure. Be sure to create a list of emergency contacts.
  • Tell them to be wary of receiving unexpected packages and stay clear of unattended luggage or parcels in airports, train stations, or other areas of uncontrolled public access. Never agree to carry letters, packages, etc. for anyone.
  • Advice your child to keep you posted on their travel plans while abroad.
  • Make sure they have sufficient funds if necessary to purchase a return ticket quickly. The best arrangement for this is simply to have a valid credit card with an unexpended credit limit.
  • If you child has a current medical condition, they should be sure to bring enough medicine to cover the period they will be in Egypt if the drug in question is not available here.

Do Some Research: If you engage in your child’s interests to experience a new culture, chances are, you’ll feel more comfortable doing so if you are well-informed about Egypt.

  • Research Egypt, including its history, culture, customs, laws, social/moral codes, dress and language.
  • Along with your child, learn a few of the local words and phrases.
  • Read all program literature and any available student accounts of studying abroad.
  • Never hesitate to ask questions of our students or our program administrators.

Accept Your Child’s Independence:  It is important to stay informed of his or her activities and aspects of his cultural and self-discovery. Sending your child to study abroad involves a certain amount of letting go on your part. Beginning the process before your child’s departure will help ease the transition of their absence. However, it is beneficial for you to help guide them through the logistics of traveling abroad.

  • Help your child with the logistics concerning pre-travel arrangements. Help them obtain a passport.  If your daughter or son already has a passport, make sure it is valid until at least six months after his/her return date. Normally new passports take approximately 4-6 weeks for processing. It is advisable to apply early to avoid delays. The easiest way to obtain a visa for Egypt is at the airport on arrival for citizens of most countries, but if your country requires a visa in advance, you should make sure your child gets it.
  • Assist with flight arrangements.
  • Develop a plan for handling family emergencies that may arise while your child is abroad.
  • Enrollees in our program will be provided with a pre-arrival handbook. Read through this in its entirety as it contains a step-by-step list of required actions necessary prior to departure.
  • Don’t expect to hear from your child every day while he or she is abroad, and don’t make your child feel bad for that. He or she is likely taking advantage of the short amount of time available to experience Egypt.
  • Talk with parents whose children have previously studied abroad and try to prepare for the emotions they say they experienced.
  • Communicate: Keeping in touch with your child while he or she is studying overseas is important for both of you.
  • Establish a plan of communication with your child. A good suggestion is to call at regular intervals, planned in advanced to avoid missed phone calls and confusion due to differences in time zone.
  • Encourage your child to do weekly email updates or to start an online journal or blog. That way you and your family can follow their adventures while giving them the time and space to explore their interests.
  • Internal phone calls may be expensive. To save money, we suggest downloading a program such as Skype to chat and speak for free online with your child.

Establish a Sound Financial Plan: Teaching your child responsible ways to handle his or her finances is crucial and can begin even before departure.

  • Although the cost of living in Egypt is very reasonable, it is prudent to devise a financial plan with your child for the time he or she will live here as there may be many new things he or she wants to try that will cost money. Write down the expenses you expect your child to have and make a column for “needs” and a column for “wants.”
  • Don’t exchange currency before your child departs, have him or her wait until arrival in Cairo as the exchange rate may be better.
  • ATM machines are widely available in Egypt, but replacing a card from abroad can be difficult, so make sure your child knows to keep it in a safe place at all times and that its validity lasts until after they plan to leave Egypt.
  • If you give your child a credit card or ATM card to use, make sure that the issuing bank is aware they will be using it overseas as sometimes cards can be blocked for security reasons if the bank is not forewarned.
  • There are a number of money-wiring services available in Cairo. Arab Academy is located blocks away from a Western Union office.

Consider Visiting Your Child in Egypt: You may wish to visit your child during his or her stay with us as it is a perfect opportunity to see the land of the pharaohs with your son or daughter as a guide. If you plan such a visit, we recommend that you visit during the semester break or after semester is finished, as students are otherwise busy with the academic program and attendance in classes counts toward their grades.

Involvement in local life is a great way to practice Arabic and understand Middle Eastern culture. Cairo has many local and international companies and organizations that welcome volunteer and Arab Academy helps students who come for a semester or longer to find such opportunities. Students can choose from a variety of activities that engage with local communities such as teaching English to Egyptian youth or refugee communities and doing arts and crafts with underprivileged children. We can link students interested in international relations to internships at international organizations. Students interested in gender issues in the region can choose NGOs related to the empowerment of women. Many local English language publications welcome student interns who offer them the opportunity to get published. Our goal is to ensure a cross-cultural bridge between foreign students and Egyptians. Giving back to communities in need strengthens the bond between both worlds.

Phone: +20 111 670 4021 - +20 111 218 0305
Fax: +20 227955201
3 Alif Kamil El-Shinnawi Street,
Garden City 11451, Cairo , Egypt