So I am going abroad this next fall semester. Right now, it's down to a decision between the University of Jordan, in Amman, or AU Cairo in Egypt. I'm having trouble deciding, but I think I might go with Amman. With that in mind, I've been reading as much as I can find about it. I know the exchange rate and everything. However, I have never lived abroad before, least of all in the Middle East, so I don't know how much money I would need for a semester to live comfortably. I'm not talking about like splurging and buying tons of stuff, but you know what I mean, right?
I can't find too much on how prices in Jordan compare to the USA. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
If I was you I would go to AU of Cairo. Amman is an ugly city built out of concrete blocks. I also found cost of living in Jordan to be a lot higher. (But I was visiting Petra and faced tourist prices, so I could be wrong.) Cairo is a much more interesting city IMO, there is so much to see and do. The old city reminded me of my beloved Jerusalem, though it couldn't really compare.
Cost of living in Cairo is roughly 200-300 USD per month. A small flat can be had for around 50 USD per month. Amman should be similar, but with higher rents. It is really hard to say for me, since I visited Jordan only as a tourist, but never considered living there and thus did not inquire.
BTW, look into Yarmuk University in Irbid too. It is rumored to be the best uni in Jordan, far better than the University of Jordan. And if you want to learn Arabic or do Middle Eastern studies the place to go is Damascus in Syria. The ME studies programme at AU Cairo is ridicoulously overpriced.
Feel free to contact me on studying in the ME, I've been for a semester to An-Najah in Nablus, Palestine and have travelled all over the ME.
[ Edit: Edited on Sep 13, 2007, at 2:28 PM by t_maia ]
I have never been to Egypt, but I have travelled in Jordan, and although Amman is nothing special (at least from a tourist point of view) it will give you the chance to travel around Jordan. you could visit many places in holidays and long weekends - it's a great country. In amman you are also only around 4 hours drive from damascus which is a fantastic city. I met an American man and his son while i was in Jordan- they were living in amman as the father ran an english school. he said while amman may not seem like a great place from a tourist point of view, he found it a great city to live in once he got to know it.
Although I've never been to Jordan, I loved Cairo and couldn't get enough. In fact, for the 2 weeks I had to spend in Egypt, I never left Cairo since it was so incredible! The people were lovely, the culture was beautiful, it was a fascinating experience. I felt very welcome as an American and have had family/friends who lived there or visited for months at a time and felt the same way. It is quite easy to rent an affordable flat for several months. There is quite a lively expat scene with a lot to offer in terms of city life. What has you leaning towards Jordan, if I might ask?
I am facing the same exact decision as werdna, between Cairo and Amman for study abroad. However, I know that the AUC is moving to a new campus outside of downtown Cairo and I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the new campus. How far is it from downtown? Is it possible/worth it to commute? I want to live downtown, in the city, not on a secluded campus.
Also, does anyone know if the AUC is going to allow people to still take classes in the old campus downtown? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
I have not been to Egypt, so I cannot comment on living there, though I have it as a must visit place in my travel list. However, having visited Amman last year, I would say that from a touristic point of view, Egypt would be a better experience. On the other hand, Jordan is located so close to several interesting countries that it might be better and cheaper for a wider experience. It is only a reasonably short bus ride to Damascus and many seem to go there for their shopping. Jerusalem is within a day's travel. Also, depending on the nature of your studies, it may be interesting to be able to experience first hand the conflict dynamics of the neighbouring countries.
Amman itself is expensive, when it comes to accommodation and daily living but if you can manage with selfcatering, it would be manageable. With regard to basic pricing, 1 JD ~ 1.4 USD. With this amount, you could travel by taxi a reasonable distance within city limits or be able to buy a box of the delicious Mahmoul biscuits (Saudi Arabian cookies filled with dates) or a burger or shawarma in a little kiosk or 1Kg of sugar, a litre of milk and two litres of water. However, dining at restaurants require at least 7JD (MacDonalds, KFC) and above. Places like Carrefour located in the City shopping mall offer cheap places for getting essentials, especially in bulk.
A positive aspect is the people who were very friendly and hospitable, at least those whom I came across, which is a marked difference to that in heavy expat Middle Eastern countries like U.A.E. and Qatar. The food is also nice, very much closer to Lebanese food.
While the city itself looks drab at first sight, you start liking it after some time, even the same architecture that is duplicated in each neighbourhood. It is also a beautiful experience camping out in Wadi Rum and taking a dip in the Dead Sea. There can be so much places to discover, especially for those who are interested in the Biblical places like River Jordan etc. Taxi drivers are also generally friendly and not out to rob you, but nonetheless, it is better to fix the price beforehand as I had one experience during my stay, where the driver charged 3JD for just driving one block, when I knew that the actual price was generally 0.5 to 1 JD. Anyway, I felt Amman to be a relatively safe place for travelling when compared to other Middle Eastern countries and this was a sentiment shared by many of my friends who had come from neighbouring countries.