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Olivia Voss

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: majors: Global Studies/PWAD, minor: Statistics
Program: American University of Cairo
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Term: Spring 2021


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I am Global Studies with a focus on the Middle East, and I knew I wanted travel experience within the Middle East before I graduated. I wanted to pick somewhere that spoke the Arabic language in one of the more common dialects, as I have been studying it. I wanted an exchange program rather than a third party to ensure I met students from my host country and had more of a traditional college experience abroad.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned how truly capable I am. Showing up in a foreign country, in which you are pretty shaky on the language, and with minimal guidance, requires to you to pull yourself together rather quickly. I managed to navigate quite a few tricky situations while abroad, and I feel much more mature and confident because of it. I advocated for myself and created solutions that allowed me and my friends to stay safe and secure.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
I really thought I was going to be slightly underwhelmed by the Pyramids of Giza, after all we have all seen the photos. But on one of my first days in Egypt we got a group of new friends to go together. I actually teared up a little when I stood next to them. It was awe-inspiring to look up at them and feel the thousands of years of history. I ended up meeting some of my closest friends that day, Egyptians and other international students who went out of their way to guide us through the site. It was emblematic of the incredible kindness of the Egyptian people.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Build a strong support system in the country you go to, and always trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, get out of there. But the truth is you are capable of handling more than you think!


How do you identify?
LGBTQ+, Scholarship Recipient


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
I am bisexual, so I just avoided talking about my identity in public due to strict laws there.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Stay safe! Your identity is important but be mindful of cultural and legal sanctions in the country you are in


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
The university I attended had pretty decent rules regarding homophobia and security!