Universities Won’t Allow Students to Study Abroad in Egypt

Old CairoPersonally, I think studying abroad is one of the best things you can possibly do while you are in college, and in recent years, many students have chosen to study abroad in order to gain a better understanding of the world and themselves. Surprisingly, the Middle East has recently become a popular destination for many of these students. Many students want to learn more about the Arab language and culture, so they are now flocking to this region instead of the more traditional Europe or South America.

However, after the recent Arab spring when many governments were toppled by rebel forces, there is now heightened violence and political instability in many of these countries. In November, three American students who were studying abroad in Egypt were arrested and detained. So it is no wonder that many parents and college administrators are now not as gung-ho for sending their students to study abroad here.

“We suspended our program in Egypt last summer,” said Jeffrey Cason, dean of international programs at Middlebury College. “But now we have a program in Amman. Some kids were worried Amman would be a less lively place, but for us it was the safest place.”

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Future of Study Abroad in Egypt Still Uncertain

American University in CairoAmerican students studying abroad in Egypt were evacuated during protests that began on January 31st, shortly after the U.S. State Department discouraged travel to Egypt. The emergency measures went quite smoothly considering cell phone and internet service were down. However, many students were told that they would be able to return to Egypt and return to their studies there once the situation permitted, but now such a return is unlikely.

Many universities and study abroad organizations are waiting to see how the September elections progress before allowing their programs in Egypt to resume. “Mainly we would be looking for the situation to stabilize,” said Paul Watson, senior vice president of the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). “We would evaluate with contacts on the ground in Egypt, we would consult with the state department.”

AIFS canceled the first run of a new Egyptology program for the summer of 2011. The two-part trip would have started in London, and then students would have traveled to Egypt to view ancient monuments first-hand. “We really expect that students and their families would simply back away from committing to a program that would involve travel to Egypt,” said Watson, adding that AIFS hopes to run the program the following summer, in 2012.

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American Study Abroad Students Evacuated from Egypt

By Stephanie VanderVelden

As political tension surges across Egypt, chaos is affecting groups beyond Egyptian citizens. Students from several American colleges and universities are currently studying abroad in Egypt, specifically in Cairo; the epicenter of the ordeal. The protests denouncing President Hosni Mubarak have erupted in violence, putting citizens and students at risk. Emergency evacuations have been organized to remove American students from increasingly dangerous conditions.

Students staying in dorms and with host families witnessed the violence first hand. Sounds of gun fire and protesters with weapons forced students to stay inside as the violence increased. Egyptian security teams guarded university dorms from approaching looters as students watched from inside.

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