Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
AUC encourages its students to study abroad for myriad reasons: experiencing a new culture, immersion in a different language and the independence of living alone abroad all contribute to the benefits of the study abroad experience. Studying in a foreign country presents many challenges and, consequently, opportunities for personal growth.
“Everyday life in Egypt improves my global awareness. I wake up in the morning knowing that each day is going to bring a new challenge and adventure,” explained Katie Wellington, an American study-abroad student from Washington College. “From the differences of classes, to walking down the streets of Cairo and traveling around in general, Egypt is considerably different, and relatively exotic, compared to life in the United States.”
Enes Karakurt, a Turkish study-abroad student from Boğaziçi University, agrees that experiencing life in a different culture is beneficial. He shared, “Study abroad and the corresponding cultural exchange is a different experience which everyone should do. It gives me a chance to understand cultural differences and overcome some prejudices that I had before. Also I believe that the challenges that I am facing while studying in Egypt makes me strong and confident.”
The opportunity to study abroad as a foreigner at AUC is a uniquely valuable experience. Wellington cites her academic interest in the Middle East as the reason she chose to study abroad at AUC, yet the friendships she has formed have also contributed greatly to her cultural education. “By taking classes at AUC, I’m not only exposed to the incredible network of knowledge and expertise AUC professors and staff have to offer, but also the thoughts of my classmates, all of whom have experiences of their own. After the 2011 revolution, the political and social dynamics of Egyptian society changed completely, which many of my classmates have seen and experienced. That alone gives me an insight I would never have back in the States, not only allowing me to gain knowledgeable insight about Egypt as whole, but gain lifetime friends.”
Dahlia Kadri, a master’s student studying abroad from the University of Florida, emphasizes the distinctive access of AUC to important Egyptian officials as an essential factor in her abroad experience. She noted, “I am able to put what I am learning in the classroom into practice immediately through my American Chamber of Commerce internship, and I also have access to great policymakers and players in the Egyptian government like the minister of social solidarity, who spoke recently at the AUC annual research conference.”
The dynamic political and cultural environment of Cairo and the strong reputation of AUC create a uniquely stimulating and fulfilling study-abroad experience. As Kadri explained, “Egypt is providing me with an amazing experience in an economic and political environment that is the most dynamic.” For the students studying abroad at AUC, the academic and cultural education, coupled with the inherent challenges of living in Egypt, surpasses normal study-abroad expectations.