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A Day In The Life Of An MFL Year Abroad Student: Cairo Edition

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live abroad? Olea Ambassador, Daisy, is currently living in Cairo for her Year Abroad as part of her university degree. Read on to find out more about a typical day in the life at a language school in Cairo.

My weekdays are typically quite similar - a big adjustment from university! I am currently doing two hours a day of Arabic language school, five days a week - although the weekends in Cairo are Friday and Saturday!

A typical weekday starts with a 7.30am wake-up to get ready for school, which starts at 9am. I try to get in a little vocabulary practise whilst I drink my coffee in the morning (but this doesn’t always end up happening!) or sometimes finish off my wagib (homework) for the day’s lessons.

My flatmate and I leave at around 8:45am to take an uber to school which can take anywhere between fifteen minutes and half an hour depending on the zahma (traffic). Very occasionally we take the metro but we have to leave around 8:20 to get there on time, so this isn’t a particularly regular occurrence!

I start my Arabic lessons with a grammar and vocabulary-focused lesson, followed by a reading lesson. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but I was initially doing three hours of lessons and that was exhausting. Normally after school, I walk over to the gym, which is about a half an hour walk away over the River Nile. Cairo is not a particularly walkable city so it's always nice to be able to stretch my legs after school.

If I decide to not go to the gym then I often take the metro back to my flat in Zamalek and get started on that day’s wagib or I take the opportunity to explore more of Cairo. Most of Cairo’s tourist attractions have a student price which makes it a lot more affordable to explore.

One of my favourite exploration afternoons was my trip to Coptic Cairo - I took the metro over there, which takes around 30 mins and cost 5EGP (about 13p) per journey. The metro puts you right in the centre of Coptic Cairo, next to the Coptic Museum, which has lots of great information and exhibits about Egypt’s minority religion: Coptic Christianity. After the Museum I head to the Hanging Church, to see what a Coptic Church looked like inside as I had never been inside any Church that wasn’t Catholic or Protestant.

The evening tends to be when I do my wagib, but on a Wednesday I go to Aerial Hoop classes which are great to try a new sport and also meet other Egyptian women as well as hear Arabic in a different setting! Some evenings, especially on a Thursday night when I can have a lie-in the next day, I take the chance to explore the nightlife in Cairo with my friends here!

Life in Cairo is definitely different, but far more enjoyable and easy to assimilate to than I expected. Ramadan is starting on March 22nd, so I expect my daily routine to change! About The Author: Daisy is an Olea Ambassador (Team 1.0, March - Sept 2023) and an undergraduate student of BA Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge.


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