The American University in Cairo
The American University in Cairo is regarded as one of the leading universities in the Middle East, as well as one of the leading international English-language institutions. Students who choose to spend a semester or year of study here will have access to a wide variety of courses spanning the liberal arts, as well as the opportunity to explore one of the worlds foremost international hubs, Cairo. AUC offers student dormitory housing in Zamalek (in downtown Cairo), as well as on-campus. Meals are provided through a variety of on-campus cafes and restaurants, as well as in dormitories, but are not covered by the program fee. Since this is a direct university exchange, assimilation and student life will require a great deal of independence. However, since this is an English-language university, academic cultural barriers should be substantially mitigated. International students will undergo a week-long orientation program including lectures and sessions introducing newcomers to AUC and to life in Cairo. In order to qualify for this program, students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
Further info can be found at:http://www.aucegypt.edu/Pages/Default.aspx and at: http://www.aucegypt.edu/studentlife/isa/Pages/Home.aspx
The academic aspects of the program are not quite up to Reed's standards and pose a few challenges. Having so many professors for whom English is not their native language can be challenging. In some of my science classes, to explain a difficult concept, the professor would slip into Arabic and the students would speak in Arabic to ask questions or provide answers to problems. As the only non-Arabic speaker in the class, I often felt confused and left behind and frustrated by the constant Arabic speaking after being reminded of my lack of knowledge in the language. The classes (humanities-wise) were a bit of a pushover. The students show up 40 minutes late to a 50 minute class system. But the Arabic program was fantastic with very good, patient and talented professors. The biology course I took will serve as a great supplement to my education as Reed does not offer some of the (very important) courses I took in Egypt. Housing was GREAT, people complained about the restrictive nature of the housing, but it wasn't bad at all. The food in the dorm was alright, but a little too carb and grease laden—persons of the vegetarian variety need a little creativity, patience, and arab market shopping to make successful meals.
The language (Arabic) was great—good professors and good resources for language help (except for tutoring - difficult to arrange). Art History was also great, and there were lots of interesting sounding courses I wished I had time to take.
Biology was a little disappointing - especially the lab. I think that the problem for the most part is with the students, not the professors. Academic apathy widespread, as is cheating, and the professors react to that. The Kanzy hotel is a dump. The Zamalek residence is very nice, but is super western and can be isolating. Food is ok/not good in the school/dorm cafeteria but of course easy to get cheaply in Cairo. The shuttle system is very convenient and Cairo is an amazing city to live in.