Experience full immersion into Egyptian life by living with a host family and attending a local high school. Classes in school will be taught in either English or Arabic, and most schools will allow you to select courses based on your past education and personal interests. When not at school, you'll spend your time with your host family and friends, shopping at local bazaars, playing sports and enjoying meals with extended family. Throughout the year, you will have the opportunity to visit cultural sites like the Pyramids of Giza and the Nile River.
You could live in a variety of areas around Egypt, though most likely in a relatively urban or suburban setting. Past hosting communities have included Alexandria, Cairo, El Fayoum, El Menya, Giza, Ismailia, Port Said, Tanta, and others.
Check out the Host Community Map to view where previous AFS-Egypt students have been placed.
Family in Egypt is very important and plays a major role in people's lives. The term family here includes not only the nuclear family (father, mother and children) but extends also to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins of cousins.
Host families in Egypt, like all AFS host families worldwide, are volunteers and are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
While Egyptian life is centered on family and religion, there remains a great difference between the rural and urban populations of Egypt. Generally speaking, life outside the country's major cities is in keeping with tradition, where communities are more patriarchal and family ties are very strong. People in urban centers such as Cairo and Alexandria still maintain these traditional values, but to a lesser extent. Most families in urban areas live in apartments.
In their free time, Egyptian teenagers meet their friends to go to cafés, sports clubs, the cinema or to shopping malls. Although teenage boys and girls sometimes mingle at schools and at universities, there are certain "rules" that need to be followed within the teen social strata. It is, for instance, not very common for a girl to go out with a boy on her own; it is more common and accepted for boys and girls to go out together as a group. The concept of dating for teenagers is usually not accepted by most families in Egypt.
The Egyptian diet is typically rich in beans, bread, rice, vegetables, and fruits. Breakfast normally consists of bean cakes and eggs, while lunch is the most significant meal of the day and tends to be high in starches. After lunch is a "siesta," or afternoon rest, and dinner is usually a lighter meal.
The official language of Egypt is Arabic, with many regional dialects spoken all over the country. English is also commonly used.
The Egyptian school year runs from September until May, with a two-week vacation in January. You will likely attend a private language school and wear a uniform. Some classes may be taught in English, others in Arabic, and subjects can usually be chosen freely, depending on the school.
In schools that run on the Egyptian system (private and experimental schools), students choose between two sets of subjects and take the required courses for that subject. International schools use the same structure and system as in the home country (for example, American international schools use the US system) and therefore offer similar classes. If you are placed in an international school, it will be one that runs on the American system.
Check out the Host School FAQ (.pdf).
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Egyptian society, culture, family, school, religion, festivals, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group's needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur upon arrival in Cairo, about 6-8 weeks after your arrival, and just prior to your return.
In addition to the orientations, many local chapters organize activities for students and host families throughout the year. These will vary from chapter to chapter but may include parties or excursions to other cities or regions in Egypt. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are at the student's expense.
Your program will begin in New York, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Cairo where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to New York. Details will be provided after you start your application.
A travel visa may be required for travel to Egypt. For more details, see Egypt Year Program Visa Overview.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range upon departure
- Have a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a valid U.S. passport, or a U.S. Permanent Resident Card at least 4 months prior to the departure range
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
AFS Egypt may be able to accommodate vegetarians, but we do ask that you be as flexible in your diet as possible.
While there is no language requirement for this program, we strongly suggest that you learn as much Arabic as possible prior to departure.
Attitudes are changing, but Egypt remains a country where smoking is tolerated. AFS cannot guarantee a non-smoking environment.
High school graduates are not eligible.