Living Abroad

As an American student living in Cairo or Amman, you are subject to the laws of your host country. You are a representative of CASA and your host university and how you behave reflects directly on your home institution, and our program. Even when freedom of expression permits, propriety requires a restrained exercise of personal and academic freedom. Sensitivity, understanding, and cooperation are necessary to anyone traveling in a foreign country.

Fellows may experience, or witness, sexual harassment on the streets. This is something that has become an issue in Cairo/Amman and it is directed toward women, local and foreign alike. The type of harassment experienced, or witnessed, tends to be verbal and the best way that most handle this situation is to try and ignore it. Feelings of frustration, anger, intimidation, or a mixture of all of these, might develop due to hassling and verbal harassment even though sincere efforts are made to fit into the culture. During the first week of the summer semester, CASA holds a Fellow Orientation that discusses strategies for minimizing sexual harassment, its impact on your emotional well-being, and how to enjoy your in-country experience. We take all issues of sexual harassment very seriously and our main concern is for our students’ well-being and safety.  Fellows should seek assistance if the harassment towards them has become physical and/or causes increased anxiety or anger.  If you experience sexual harassment that is troublesome, please contact the CASA office in Cairo, Amman and/or State-side for assistance. We are here to help you in any way possible.

On all official forms, fellows will be asked their religion and it is expected that they answer the question.  It is wise not to categorize oneself as agnostic or atheist.  

Maintenance Allowance

  • CASA Cairo fellows will receive the equivalent of $650 USD in Egyptian pounds per month, which will be distributed in cash from the Cashier's office on the first of each month.
  • CASA Amman fellows will receive $1050 USD per month as a direct deposit by the first of each month.

This amount is intended to cover food and rent and should be sufficient for single students, assuming that an apartment is shared by two or three people and food is prepared mostly at home. Some may need to supplement the CASA stipend with approximately $100-200 per month for any additional expenses and travel. Fellows receive the maintenance allowance for the nine months of the program.


The American University in Cairo

ATMs are widely available for use in Egypt. The most dependable ones are found at AUC and major hotels. Debit cards issued by major U.S. banks and financial institutions, like HSBC work well; however, cards issued by smaller credit unions and banks may pose some problems. Egyptian ATMs disburse currency in Egyptian Pounds, and are usually subject to fees from your home institution and the owner of the machine. This should not be your exclusive source for money while in Egypt, but it will probably be your primary means of accessing funds. You may want to bring some money in the form of U.S. dollars and Travelers Checks. You can cash these for Egyptian Pounds at any American Express office and some exchange bureaus. A few recent CASA fellows had a second debit card from a different bank, in case they are not able to withdraw funds from one of the accounts, while other Fellows made use of a PayPal or Skype account.

Most fellows find they do not need an Egyptian bank account; however, there is a branch of the Commercial International Bank (CIB) at AUC and students are allowed to open an account with a minimum of $1,000 (or the equivalent in Egyptian pounds). No one writes checks in Egypt; transactions are strictly cash. Egyptians who do keep checking accounts use them very rarely and only for major purchases for which they know a check will be acceptable in advance.

The Qasid Institute for Arabic

Amman offers the creature-comforts found in most major cities, while minimizing many of the drawbacks normally entailed, such as unbearable traffic jams, pollution, and high rates of crime. It is one of the most popular summer getaways for Arab nationals, and hosts millions of American and European tourists in late spring. Because of this boom, living costs in Amman have increased in the past several years.

ATM machines throughout the city can be used to withdraw cash from U.S., Australian, or European-based bank accounts. The vast majority are on the Star or Cirrus network. A nominal transaction and change-of-currency fee are assessed. If your home bank is partnered with any Middle Eastern banks with Amman branches, you may be able to withdraw from your account without accruing any fees. While personal checks can be cashed with a nominal 2-5% commission, the clearing time of several weeks makes them quite impractical. Similarly, traveler’s checks have increasingly become a less common means of payment.

PLEASE NOTE that most credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees of about 3% while abroad. You may want to check with your credit card company regarding their policies. Your family should never send you checks through the mail. Western Union has been the best way to remit funds to American students in Egypt and Jordan.

How to Receive Mail

It is advisable not to have packages sent to Egypt, unless absolutely necessary. AUC automatically pays for customs duties, and then notifies students of the cost and will not relinquish the package until the student pays the duties. The duties are often surprisingly and prohibitively high.

CASA campuses’ contact information:

American University in Cairo
CASA, Hill House
113 Kasr El Aini Street
P.O. Box 2511
Cairo 11511, Egypt

Qasid Institute for Arabic
22 Queen Rania (University) Street,
Amman, Jordan

Electrical Equipment

Cairo, Egypt

The electrical current in Cairo ranges between 220-240 volts alternating at 50 cycles per second. Standard current in the US is between 110-120 alternating at 60 cycles. The higher voltage in Egypt can be "stepped down" to 110-120 by transformers. Thus, in terms of voltage, American electronics can be operated in Cairo. The difference of ten cycles per second is not of great significance for operating most equipment. Appliances incorporating electric motors simply tend to operate more slowly. However, in appliances, which utilize the alternation in current to produce a given speed, the difference can be disastrous. Electric clocks cannot be adapted and should not be brought. Battery powered alarm clocks are expensive in Cairo, so bring one from home.

Amman, Jordan

The electrical current in Jordan is 220 volts/50 cycles AC. Typically the sockets are two-pronged European style, however a variety of other sockets are in use including the three-pinned 13 amp square plug. We advise you to bring a multi-purpose adapter.

Computer Equipment and Internet Access

You will need to bring a laptop with you. Much of the software developed by CASA at both locations runs better on a PC, though a 2017-18 Cairo Fellow confirmed she did not have any issues using her Mac. AUC and Qasid have wireless access. Be sure to bring the appropriate plug adapters for your computer. A flash drive is also required since you will be responsible for acquiring daily listening and reading assignments from one main CASA computer.