well-thought through hastily made decision, I decided to move off campus. While I am 98.7% sure that it was the right decision to make, it was an extremely impulsive one. Back when I first decided to study abroad in Egypt, my friends at the Concordia Language Villages told me to rent an apartment; I thought it wasn’t an option. My school encouraged me to live on campus and so I decided it would be the best option available to me. But after arriving in Egypt, all of the students encouraged me to live off campus.
There was the desire to better immerse myself in the culture and the language. The fact that I couldn’t have visitors in my room (not even to do homework). The fact that the dorms actually gave me a curfew of 10pm. The desire to eat real Arab food instead of the food on campus (which includes Baskin Robins, Subway, and Auntie Annie’s Pretzels -this is not immersion). The unbelievably astronomical cost of living on campus. Or maybe just the fact that I didn’t want to live in a walled-off school campus, however nice it is, effectively sealing me into the top economic tier of Egypt and thus never getting a feel for what living in Egypt really means.
Anyways, I was told I had to move off campus in the first week in order to receive a full refund (minus a small deposit), so I found myself homeless in Egypt with two large backpacks and a suitcase. A new friend from Norway, Pia, saved my life by allowing me to stay in her apartment in Heliopolis for a while. In reality it was only for two days, but that was enough for me to find myself starting my first day of my new college semester homeless and living out of a hiking backpack.
I had started the apartment search two days before becoming homeless in Cairo, but had had no luck. The search started with a student from Virginia, Will, who had much experience living abroad, although he eventually decided to remain on campus. So I continued the search by myself and later found someone to live with. Below is my apartment search in HGTV fashion.
Apartment 1 –
Location: Rehab Extension (pronounced ri-haab not rehab), a gated city with ~300,000 people, many Syrian refugees and thus many Syrian restaurants. The walled city has its own security apparatus and everything you need in it. There are multiple malls and a huge traditional souq (outdoor market) which has hundreds of shops selling anything you can imagine.
Price: 5,000 LE (Egyptian pounds)/month ($638/month), three bedrooms
Pros: Very close to campus (9km), secure, buses that travel from all parts of Rehab to the shopping and food centers
Cons: Not as complete an immersion experience as other locations, as a “suburb” everything is driving distance
Apartment 2 –
Location: Maadi Sarayat or Old Maadi, it is a nice area fairly close to the Nile and Corniche with many expats and foreigners living in it, considered a pricier neighborhood close to the famous Road 9, which has all kinds of food options from Chinese to burgers, koshari to the renowned Maadi McDonalds
Price: 6000 LE/month ($766), two bedrooms
Pros: Hundreds of food options within walking distance, beautiful and quiet neighborhood, bawaab (doorman) for safety and cleaning purposes, huge balcony
Cons: The price is so damn high
Apartment 3 –
Location: Maadi Sarayat, also
Price: 5000 LE/month ($338), two bedrooms
Pros: Very similar to Apartment 2 for a lower price, also has bawaab
Cons: Father walking distance than Apartment 2, less space than other apartments
Just like HGTV, I will keep the suspense high and leave you waiting. Make bets about where I now live, twiddle your thumbs, watch paint dry, or partake in other time-killing activities because the next installment of this blog is still a few days away.