Studying Abroad In Egypt? Bad Idea.
Due to the anti-government protests throughout the major cities in Egypt, the related chaos has prompted governments in the United States, China, Japan and Canada, among others to send planes and set up help to get tourists out of there.
In Washington, the State Department said Monday afternoon that 1,200 Americans have been evacuated so far on government-chartered planes and that about 1,400 others are expected to fly out in the coming days.
Multinational companies including Daimler, France Telecom and Larfarge are closing down production or repatriating foreign employees, AFP reported.
Since the government has blocked internet usage to prevent demonstrators from communicating, the airports have been jammed with passengers hoping to leave town and with no way to check availability or book flights, airlines are blown away by masses of potential customers without an existing reservation.
Unfortunately, study abroad programs, including the American University in Cairo, have temporarily suspended classes but they are implementing measures to promote student safety. AUC, which currently enrolls nearly 5000 undergraduates from over 100 countries, is encouraging students to stay in their dorms and respect a curfew, according to the Washington Post.
Some study abroad participants who have an adventurous temperament see the cultural troubles as merely a part of the experience. Cory Ellis, who is in his first year of George Washington University’s Middle East studies graduate program, told the GWU student newspaper (The Hatchet) that he aimed to attend the protest to “document the revolution unfolding in Egypt.” It turns out he got more cultural experience than be may have wished. At one point, police threw tear gas canisters into the crowd.
“I was basically suffocating after I came out of it. Tear gas isn’t an instant pain, it creeps up on you. You can run away from tear gas, but it’s still on you,” said Ellis, an international affairs major.
“I didn’t come to Egypt to take classes. I can take classes at GW. I went 5,000 miles away from home to experience another part of the world and immerse myself in the culture,” Ellis told the Hatchet. “I major in international affairs, so I want to experience international affairs. I didn’t want to let the chance to witness history slip by me.”
Many countries are issuing warnings against travel to Egypt as demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak escalate, according to the Canadian Business Journal.
At least 140 people reportedly have died since protests started a week ago.