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Study Abroad
Western Michigan
University

1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, Michigan
49008-5245 USA
Phone (269) 387-5890
Fax (269) 387-0630

Location

2425 Ellsworth Hall
WMU Mail Stop 5245

Kyle Rundles--Egypt
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 Kyle Rundles
Egypt
Summer 2008
 

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad.  Not only was I able to experience a new culture, but I also studied the language and was completely immersed in my studies.  My study in Egypt was unlike anything I have experienced and allowed me to complete the requirements necessary for a minor in Global and International Studies with an Arabic focus.  Now that I have graduated, I hope to continue learning about Arabic culture and language, but I have my experience abroad to thank for my deeper knowledge of the country, language, and people.

 

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I didn’t know what to expect when preparing to travel to Egypt.  I had always heard mixed comments about the country and people.  However, at the end of my trip, I didn’t want to leave.  Minoring in Arabic studies in the United States is a much different experience than living in the culture itself.  Here, we learn classical Arabic and don’t get much practice or actual interaction with the culture.  Once I arrived in Egypt, I quickly learned that if I spoke in the classical Arabic I had been learning, no one would understand me.  However, as I visited new places and interacted more, I learned the local dialect very quickly.  I think this is only possible when completely submerged in a population that speaks the language.  Not only did my knowledge of the language accelerate, but my knowledge of the culture expanded quickly, as well.  Through our class and direct contact with the people, we came to a deeper understanding about Egyptian society along with why and how people acted in the ways they did.  I think this was very crucial to see first hand, especially with the stigma that our country places on Arabs.  My study abroad program in Egypt allowed me to achieve a first hand education of both the language and the culture.

 

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Along with my educational achievements, I grew on a personal level, as well, during my time in Egypt.  The group that I traveled with was great, but the experience I had with local Egyptians made my trip so worth while.  I got to know several Egyptians quite well and, through their help and guidance, I was able to learn much more than in a classroom.  Leaving the new friends I had made there was the absolute hardest thing about ending my session.  In addition, I feel that I now have a much better understanding of Egypt and a thirst to know more about all cultures.  There is so much to see outside (and inside!) our own country and I think many people get caught up in their lives and never notice the world around them.  I was lucky enough to see some things I had never dreamed of, such as the temples in southern Egypt and the billions of stars that shine over the desert at night.

 

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My experience in Egypt was utterly outstanding and something that I will never forget.  Being able to see the world and learn about other cultures and languages is so important in today’s rapidly changing world.  I would encourage everyone to pursue their desires to travel and learn.  Each study abroad opportunity is unique and the knowledge and experiences a student can attain while studying in another country is invaluable.