Year — Fall 2019
Attending a local high school and living with a host family will fully immerse you in Egyptian society and culture. Classes in school will either be taught in English or Arabic, and most schools will also allow you to select courses based on your past educational and personal interests. When you’re not at school, you’ll be spending your time with your host family and friends, shopping at local bazaars, playing sports, and enjoying delicious meals. Throughout the year, you might also have the opportunity to visit amazing cultural sites like the Pyramids of Giza and the Nile River. Get ready for an experience unlike any other!
Egyptians like to relax and have a laid back approach to things; a common response to small problems or disagreements is ‘ma’alesh,’ or ‘never mind.’ One example of how casual Egyptians can be is their sense of punctuality. It’s not considered rude to be late, even by a couple hours! Egyptians are also known for their excellent sense of humor and their love of jokes and sarcasm. Vegetarianism is not common in Egypt but many traditional dishes happen to be vegetarian anyway.
Your journey will begin in New York City, where you’ll meet your fellow AFS students from the United States. You’ll attend an overnight orientation, in which you’ll learn some basic information about Egyptian society and culture. Then you’ll travel as a group to Cairo where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers and set off to meet your host family!
On your way you’ll get to see the ancient and mysterious Nile River. Since so much of Egypt is desert, almost everyone lives near the river. In the cities and larger towns you’ll see people wearing everything from jeans to traditional robes. Donkeys share the streets with BMWs and simple dwellings made of mud can be seen next door to skyscrapers.
AFS students have lived in communities throughout Egypt but chances are you’ll be in an urban or suburban area. Past host communities have included Alexandria, Cairo, El Fayoum, El Menya, Giza, Ismailia, Port Said, and many others.
Family in Egypt is extremely important and plays a major role in people’s lives. When you refer to your family in Egypt it doesn’t just mean your parents and siblings but your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins’ cousins, and so on. The role of family does vary a bit depending on region; in the more rural areas family structures are very traditional, while urban and suburban Egyptians are a bit more flexible. For example, if you’re in an urban area, you can expect to be in an apartment rather than living with extended family in a big house. Egyptian mothers take pride in their cooking and it’ll really make your host mom happy if you are willing to try whatever she puts in front of you!
In their free time, Egyptian teenagers enjoy hanging out with their friends at cafés or shopping malls, playing sports, and going out to the movies. Soccer is the national sport and there is an intense rivalry between the two top teams. If you get a chance to watch a game live it might get a little rowdy! Egypt has a great café culture and cafés are a great place to hang out with friends, watch TV, or play games.
Egyptians like to prepare elaborate feasts for special occasions. Some things you’ll find in almost every meal are bread, lentils, and fava beans. For breakfast most Egyptians eat beans and eggs. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and people often take a nap afterwards. Falafel, fried chickpea balls, and koshary, a dish of rice and lentils, are both popular and can be purchased from street vendors all over Egypt.
The Egyptian school year runs from September until May, with a two-week vacation in January. Unlike high school in the US, the school week in Egypt begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday. You’ll probably be attending a private language school where you’ll be required to wear a uniform. There are also American international schools in Egypt, which use the same system as high schools in the US. Some classes will be taught in English, others in Arabic. You’ll mostly likely be free to choose your classes, depending on the school.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.