Study Abroad
Western Michigan

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


2425 Ellsworth Hall
WMU Mail Stop 5245

Andrew Archey-Egypt
May 2010


Andrew Archey attended WMU’s Arabic Language and Culture in Egypt program

At first taking a trip abroad, especially to Egypt, may have sounded intimidating. But once it was all said and done, I felt like I had had the experience of a lifetime. Egypt is a wonderful country, with a vibrant culture, friendly people, and vast and magnificent history, which should entice anyone interested in either Arabic language or Egyptian and Arab history to visit. Not only did I gain a better grasp on colloquial Egyptian Arabic during my stay, but I also acquired a better understanding of the complex nuances involved in cultural behaviors, and the role of society in altering the structure of people’s lives.

Outside of the classroom setting, I learned an incredible amount in regards to language, and in particular culture and history. Even interacting with vendors on the street is like taking a mini-pop quiz, where you might not be able to predict what they will say, and you will have to utilize the language skills you’ve acquired in order to have an intelligent conversation. The combination of classroom and extracurricular activities really helps the student to develop language skills through the practical use of common phrases and words that are frequently utilized in everyday conversation between Egyptians. I would recommend studying abroad to any student taking any language, because the combination speaking a language in class and outside class, really helped me to better understand colloquial Egyptian Arabic; the same would hold true for someone studying any other language.

The opportunity to travel to some of the most ancient temples and tombs in Egypt was an incredible experience for me as a history (LEC) major. Being able to visit the Temple of The Oracle in Siwa (the same temple where Alexander the Great was declared the god-head of Egypt) was simply amazing and life-changing. It was amazing to think about the fact that one of the world’s most powerful and influential political leaders stood in that same spot during one of the most pivotal moments of ancient times.

Visiting the temples built by various Pharaonic dynasties (the Ptolemaic in particular) was incredible. The Ptolemaic dynasty went to such great lengths to embark on a massive construction campaign—it could be called a propaganda campaign—in order to legitimize themselves in one of the ancient world’s most powerful regions. Visiting these temples I was able to see the interaction of the cultural expression through religious works and political interests, which resulted in incredibly imposing and magnificent structures

 Overall I think my experience studying abroad will be something that I remember for the rest of my life. I learned an incredible amount of Egyptian Arabic, Egyptian culture, and Egyptian history while I was there. It was an incredibly important opportunity that helped me develop as a student and as a person.