Studying abroad is about much more than just visiting another country. It will advance you in more ways than you can imagine—personally, educationally, professionally, and socially. The world needs people who are educated about the world.
Benefits of study abroad:
- Build your resume
- Earn credits toward your degree
- Meet people from around the world
- Gain perspective
- Explore the world
- Experience different cultures
- Learn another language
- Find out who you are and what you believe in
- Enhance your social skills
Egypt is a popular study abroad location for students from all over the world.
Alexandria – Egypt
Alexandria (Al-Iskendariyya, or just plain Alex) is a large cosmopolitan port city on the Mediterranean Sea, named after Alexander the Great. Alexandria was once the center of learning in the Ancient World and even under Cleopatra's rule it rivaled the great cities of Athens and Rome. However, a long period of decline followed and Alexandria became nothing more than a fishing village with a glorious past. In the 19th Century fortunes changed once again and Alexandria grew in stature as an important port and commercial center. It attracted many Greeks, Italians, Lebanese and other nationalities to its shores. The cosmopolitan influence remains to this day. Up until 1940 in fact, over 40% of Alexandria's population had non-Egyptian roots. Today, Alexandria is a bustling city of over 4 million (mostly Egyptian) residents. Alexandria has always been popular as a vacation destination for local Egyptians looking to escape the summer heat and enjoy the Mediterranean beaches. Foreign tourists are also discovering how easy it is to visit Alexandria for even just a day or two.
There are regular long-distance bus services to many parts of Egypt. Superjet and West Delta are the main companies.
How much is the cost of living for a student?
The cost of living is inexpensive with fish, lamb and local field-ripened produce, including oranges, lemons, grapefruit, avocados, tomatoes, artichokes, etc. available in the markets throughout the year. The quality of life in Alexandria is high. Almost all Western products are available locally. The society is tolerant and the Egyptian people friendly.
Is there student accommodation in AASTMT?
AASTMT provides Dorms at Abu Kir campus for the rate of $30 per night for a single room and 15$ per night for a person in a shared double room. This may or may not appeal to you, depending on your social habits. While the legal drinking age in Egypt is technically 18, alcohol is strictly forbidden in dorm complexes. Similarly, they are militantly segregated by gender.
Fortunately, if university housing is not your cup of tea you will have no problem finding an affordable flat in Egypt.
What meal plans are available?
AASTMT provides meal plans for the rate of 800$ for the whole semester
Getting Around Alexandria
Alexandria is a wonderful city to walk around in. If you want to check out the souqs (Markets) and the Corniche (sea side) it's best to walk and enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Many of Alexandria's sights are within walking distance
"Mahattat Ramla" is the main tram station in the center of the city. Trams are cheap and easy to figure out and a great way to get around Alexandria (if you're not in a hurry). You can get to the main train station by tram as well as the Fort and Abu Abbas al-Mursi Mosque and several museums. There is usually a car reserved for just women so check before you get on
Taxis are everywhere in Alexandria, they are painted black and yellow. Ask a local person how much your fare should be approximately and then agree on a fare with your taxi driver before you get in
Is it possible to study and work part-time?
AASTMT does not offer any part time jobs for its students.
Do I need a visa?
In order to apply for a student visa, you require a passport valid for at least six months after your planned return from Egypt. You will need to enter Egypt on a standard tourist visa, then proceed to register your name and address at the nearest local police station within seven days of your arrival.
Concurrent to this, you will need to fill out a visa application form (which should be available through the institution at which you are studying. You will need to provide your application form, passport, and a passport-size photo to an office of the Ministry of the Interior to finalize your application. You will be charged a fee between LE50 and LE100 to process your application.
Tourist visas can be purchased at any port of entry, so long as you have a valid passport. They cost $15 and are available at currency exchange kiosks preceding the customs and immigration lines.
The teller will exchange your currency and paste the visa into your passport in just a few minutes.
When does the academic year start?
The academic year consists of two semesters. The autumn semester usually runs from the middle or end of September to end-January and the spring semester from mid-February to the beginning or middle of June. There is usually a teaching break of two or three weeks between the two semesters.
When will be the perfect time for my arrival?
Exchange students should arrive in AASTMT in time for the orientation programme or at the latest for the course start.
The orientation programme offers important information about studies and student life.
Do I need medical insurance for Egypt trip?
As long as you are a student of AASTMT, you will have a medical coverage please check with the clinic for details upon your arrival. But if you are planning to travel around Egypt, it is highly recommended to have a medical insurance from any company.
Learning the Language
How to learn Arabic
Arabic has a reputation as a difficult language to learn, especially as it uses a completely different alphabet. With a little effort, however, you can make quick progress. Before you leave for Egypt, consider trying to learn a few phrases by completing an audio course like those offered by Pimsleur. You can purchase and download the lessons online, and they are an excellent introduction to basic phrases and numbers. Numbers are particularly helpful to know from the outset, as many of your first interactions with Egyptians will involve buying things and paying for them.
What is the Currency in Egypt?
The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP) "Genih", which is divided into 100 piastres "ersh". Most credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. Visitors are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds to avoid additional exchange rate charges. Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in the main tourist areas.
What to See in Alexandria?
Most of the sights listed below can be visited independently unless you prefer to take a tour.
Fort Qaitbey is an impressive fort, located on a narrow peninsula where one of the ancient wonders of the world, the famous lighthouse once stood. The Fort was built in the 15th century and now houses a naval museum. You'll need about an hour to explore the rooms and towers, as well as the museum which houses some interesting weapons. The Fort also offers beautiful views of the city of Alexandria as well as the Mediterranean. A small aquarium nearby is worth a peek. There are plans afoot to build a large underwater museum in the near future which would showcase some of the exciting recent archaeological discoveries.
The Corniche is a road that runs along the eastern harbour of Alexandria and is the perfect place for a waterfront stroll. There are several restaurants where you can enjoy freshly caught fish. You'll pass some nice examples of Art Deco buildings like the (Sofitel) Cecil Hotel which has been enjoyed by Mohammed Ali (the boxer), Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill among others. A stroll down the Corniche also brings you to several of Alexandria's main attractions (some of which are described further below) like the Ramla square, Cavafi Museum, The Roman amphitheatre, the Attarine District (for shopping) and the Tahrir (liberation) Square. Treat yourself to a Brazilian coffee, a bubbly pipe or a hot glass of tea in some of Alexandria's wonderful cafes.
The Attarine souk is a maize of little streets, too narrow for cars to fit, that houses literally hundreds of little antique shops and boutiques. It's called the Zinqat as-Sittat market (which literally translates to 'the women's squeeze'). You'll find some good deals to bargain for here. It's an uncovered bazaar so it's not as stuffy as others. Local young folks prefer the malls to the souqs these days, so if you're interested in modern Egyptian fashion, that's where you'll find it.
This museum is packed full of fascinating objects reflecting Egypt's encounter with Greek culture during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. You'll need at least a few hours here to view all the objects. There are mosaics, pottery, sarcophagi and much more including a lovely garden filled with statues.
Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque
The Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque was originally built in 1775 by Algerians but since that time it has had many renovations and face-lifts, the last major one in 1943. It's now a beautiful building with huge granite pillars, colored glass skylights, intricately carved wooden windows and doors as well as paved marble floors.
Note that women cannot visit inside the mosque but can view the mausoleum and peek in the mosque itself from behind a barrier.
- Kom el-Dikka (mound of rubble) is a Roman amphitheatre that isn't huge, but very well preserved nevertheless. Excavation continues nearby to reveal the remains of a Roman city. The amphitheatre is a nice place to visit and relax. It's open from 9am - 4pm and is situated on the Raml Station Square.
- Kom el-Shuqafa (catacombs) are a marvel of technology and art. Built in the late 1st century AD, the Kom el-Shuqafa (literally means "Mound of Shards") is the largest known Roman burial site in Egypt. Since the catacombs were built to house more than 300 dead notables, there are plenty of tombs to explore as well as a banqueting hall. Many of the rooms display a unique fusion of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman decorative artwork. The Catacombs are open from 9am - 5pm and are situated near Pompeys Pillar in the western part of Alexandria. A taxi will get you there.
- Pompey's Pillar and the Seapuem. Pompey's pillar is an impressive column that stands 30 meters and is made from a single shaft of red granite. Erected in 297 AD, Pompey's pillar rises out of the ruins of the Serapeum, an acropolis erected in honor of Serapis an Egyptian God. Mostly rubble, and a few sphinxes, the Serapeum isn't much to look at, but the pillar is impressive and is the only remaining ancient monument in Alexandria that's still intact.
The Al-Montazah Palace was built by a former king a hundred years ago, as a summer residence. It's now used by Egypt's president but the gardens are open to the public. The gardens are nice and shady with a central gazebo, lots of flowers, and there's also a little beach which you can enjoy for a small fee. It's a popular place for local Egyptians to enjoy a stroll and a picnic.
Alexandria Library -- Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Alexandria has historically been a place of learning. It's a city that has attracted poets and writers for thousands of years. In 2002 a new library was constructed harking back to the great library of the 3rd Century BC. Unfortunately it doesn't quite have the same amount of books as it did back then, but there's plenty of room to add to the collection.
The national museum is located in a restored palace and contains about 1,800 artifacts that narrate the history of Alexandria throughout the ages. The Museum opened its doors in December 2003.