The Egyptian Experience

by Jessica O'Higgins

I traveled to Egypt during the fall semester of 2008 to gain a better understanding of the country that I would be studying as part of my master's thesis. As it turned out living in Cairo, Egypt turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

It is a country rich in culture, history, and politics that I believe everyone should visit at least once during their lifetime. I set two goals for myself while traveling: practice my Arabic language skills, and collect research for my thesis.

In achieving my Arabic language goals I attended the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo where I took classes that challenged my ability to speak, read and write. Through total cultural immersion in Egypt, I was also able to conduct face-to-face interviews with Egyptian school teachers. The information gathered from these interviews will be used in my thesis and helped me gain a better understanding of how education plays a role in democracy building.

Even with all the research and studying, I was still able to enjoy the many great sites that Egypt has to offer: from the great Pyramids; to the historical cities of Luxor and Aswan; to climbing Mount Sinai; to enjoying Egyptian cuisine in Cairo.

Through it all the Political Science Department has been extremely supportive in helping me achieve my international goals.