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Egypt - should I go?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by balders23, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. balders23

    balders23 New commenter

    long story short - my partner and I have had an offer to teach in Egypt, we went to an international teaching fair and were advised to be open minded and go for anything so we did, but I'm a little unsure.
    Does anyone live there? worked there? any advice at all?
    also wondering, if we accepted and the worst came to the absolute worst, and say afterr 6 months or a year we wanted to come home - would we be able to? as we would esentially be signing a 2 yr contract.
    any advice or tips would be verry very welcome!!
  2. balders23

    balders23 New commenter

    long story short - my partner and I have had an offer to teach in Egypt, we went to an international teaching fair and were advised to be open minded and go for anything so we did, but I'm a little unsure.
    Does anyone live there? worked there? any advice at all?
    also wondering, if we accepted and the worst came to the absolute worst, and say afterr 6 months or a year we wanted to come home - would we be able to? as we would esentially be signing a 2 yr contract.
    any advice or tips would be verry very welcome!!
  3. As I would be. What fair? Search? Some love Cairo, some don't. There are good schools here and some dreadful ones - the above quote implies you have been encouraged to go for a poorer school. If that is the case, and you love Cairo, opportunties would be there for you to move to one of the better schools - especially as a teaching couple. Jumping contract is never a good idea, even if the school is a shambles. You would be better off not coming than starting and 'leaving early'.
    PM me if you want, but the school you are going to will be key.
    And, of course, if you like or dislike Cairo.
  4. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Firstly - contract. If you leave before 2 years, you may 'pay' penalties (ie find they dont pay you, or withhold air fare, or gratuity - which you wouldn't have anyway after 6 months)
    Also leaving after 6 months isn't a fair try at it, and is also not honourable (if you believe in these things)
    Which school are you going to? if its a **** one you will probably hate it, particularly if it's your first overseas experience.
    I presume you are talking Cairo and not Alexandria.
    I have said this before, and there will be others who will back it up - Egypt is very unique, very quirky, very random, very chaotic, very dirty.
    BUT it has lots of character and lots of opportunities for sightseeing - cheaply and cost of living is cheap with opportunities to save. There are some great expats there and the expat scene is good.
    There is little 'in between' you will probably either love it or hate it.
  5. Could be Alex, yes!
    Only one school up there worth considering..maybe two if you're considering an American school.
    Stoppers correct as usual. You could work at one of the top 6 or 7 schools here (Cairo) and still have a miserable time if you don't like the city. As is the case for some who work at less vaunted establishments and love the place.

  6. balders23

    balders23 New commenter

    It is in Cairo, a very good school, I really liked the people we met and their philosphy etc.
    I'm just hesitant because I have never been to Egypt and so feel like I'm leaping into the unknown. My partner has been before and is quite keen, plus I am really excited about the fact we've both been offered a job so we can relocate together.
    I am an adventurous person and have been in some dire environments before and completely honoured whatever contract I agreed to, it would be important to me to stick it out and to give the place a fair try. But I would be much happier taking this massive step if I knew I could leave without severe repurcussions if I hit rock bottom (I know this is quite a pessimistic view but I cannot help worrying about going somewhere I don't know very much about).
    Another factor is that I'd have to be 100% sure it's what I wanted as when I mentioned it to my mum she did get very worried because all she knows about the place is all the bad things that have been on the news recently and in the past.
    Im currently doing my research, if any females are currently out there or have lived there, I'd love to hear from you, especially in terms of how safe it is for a female.
    thankyou for the advice/comments so far. [​IMG]
  7. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    To address your points.
    It's one of the good schools. That's good, and a head start for starters. (how about that for a sentence!)
    100% sure - no-one can ever be 100% sure for sure (another good one). You have to get as near as possible and either hold your nose and jump in, or walk back off the diving board and back down the steps.
    You have been in some dire places and survived? Despite the words I used to describe Cairo, 'dire' would never be on of them. At worst, Cairo could be described as 'basic'.
    Bad news about Cairo? bus full of tourists attacked around 2002? Museum bombed in 2006? Sharm bombed just after, and a man eaten by sharks. Moss side in manchester has more danger than that. Unfortunately, the UK media being what it is, they have to play it up or they wouldn't sell papers.
    You are more in danger of getting wolf whistled and leared at, particularly if you are blonde.
    From what you have said, i think you would at least last the course and then sign up for a few more years.
  8. Blimey, Balders, get a grip - this isn't Nigeria or Sudan we are talking about. Cairo is as close as you can get to a European capital (and a lot less dangerous than ALL of them) without being European (although Beirut is very classy...).
    Still very curious as to what school, but if you have met teachers from it and they are happy etc. you must be at a pretty good one.
    You might find Cairo a bit dull then, rather than dire. Mountains, wilderness etc aren't here. Pretty much anywhere you go there will be a taxi within 30 seconds to get you back home.
    There is the Sinai (some wilderness and ..hills), Red Sea, The Med, pyramids if you like that sort of thing. Or just go out to fancy restaurants, bars, get leathered, meet ex-pats at various ex-pat haunts (rugby club, Brit clubss) or go downtown and brush shoulders with the local boozers of an incredible city.
    Is the school in Maadi, New Cairo, October 6th? Maybe Rehab?

  9. Hi balders 23, I've been here a number of years and haven't had too many problems. You may get some grief, people shouting things out of their cars (generally late a night) and the odd toothless taxi driver might try it on. There are also a few streets that can be pretty notorious for unwanted attention but these can be avoided. It can be infuriating at times, I moved from my first flat because I was sick of the men at the end of the street, but on the whole it is a safe place to live. I still happily wander home from the pub/parties on my own.
  10. That could be the least of your worries. After travelling through various Latin American and Arab nations, I thought I was used to the looks and comments. What really got me down in Cairo was being followed and/or groped about half the times I ever tried to walk anywhere. It was very tiresome. They were very persistent and couldn't seem to accept that I wasn't interested. One guy followed me for an hour and twenty minutes one evening, going into shops when I did and continuing when I did. Very, very creepy.
    And this when I was dressing to the expected norms - shoulders and knees covered.

  11. balders23

    balders23 New commenter

    Hi Stellalocal
    I just have a few queries, like for example is it possible to be a member of a gym? or swimming pool etc?
    some people advised that my partner and I should pretend to be married to stop offending the neighbours?
    what about hair dressers? and toiletries etc?
    is it a typical city with clothes shops etc, or does everything come from markets?
    I apologise if I sound really stupid PhoneyP, but I'm thinking about this with no knowledge what so ever of Egypt, and a job offer totally unexpectedly out of the blue and I want to check all my stupid silly fears before I accept [​IMG]
    the only resources I have are you guys answering my questions and an Egypt guide book.
    What do you guys love about it? why did you decide to stay?
  12. Yes, there are plenty of gyms you can join, and some hotels will let you pay day use for their pools. The beach is 1 1/2 hours away.
    I've got lots of unmarried friends that live together without any problems.
    I don't have a problem with the hairdressers here, but I know some people bring dye over with them. Toiletries are available in chemists, the body shop and supermarkets. In Maadi there are corner shops that sell imported goods such as marmite.
    There are plenty of shops, M&S recently opened (I haven't been yet so can't say whether it's any good) Next, H&M and plenty more familiar shops are in City Stars shopping centre in Heliopolis, along with a great VIP cinema.
    It's nothing like the UK, the driving is crazy, my flat's always dusty and water and power cuts are flaming annoying (they don't happen too often and it's often just bad luck if you're affected). But you just get on with it. You can have a fantastic life here, there are loads of great people, the money (if you're in a decent school) is good which means you can live really well and still save and have brilliant holidays.
    I've had a great time here.
  13. Hello Balders23,
    I am a single female and have been here for 18 months and I love it!
    I know people have answered your questions but I thought I would too- there are some fancy gyms here in Cairo and they have pools etc, some have female only pools too which is nice or you can go to a nice hotel and use the facilities for the day too.
    I dont think neighbours would be offended by you not being married.
    Hairdressers- being blonde I am very hesistant to get my hair done in Cairo- I have never let anyone do anything to it after I saw flames heating up metal straighteners in the local salon. So I leave it, but I have friends who know hairdressers from the UK here but there are long waiting lists! They have most toiletries but I bring my favourite shampoos and bubble baths from the UK as a treat....nice brands are expensive. The same with clothes, yes there are shops like H and M, New Look, Next even Topshop and French Connection BUT they are much more expensive than the UK and also stock that kind of looks like it could be seconds or rejects from the UK. So, I dont bother with clothes shopping unless I'm desperate and stock up during the holidays!
    I love it here, but the others are right- you either love it or hate it. Sometimes there are days that I think "why on earth am I living here?" when things get you down. It can be dirty, the driving can be scary, you might get stared at and ripped off occasionally but then I realise I am earning a lot more than I would be at home, I have the freedom to travel all over Egypt cheaply, I have a cleaner 2 times a week, there are drivers willing to take me wherever I fancy whenever I want, there is a beach an hour and a half away, I have a fantastic social life with lots of parties, fancy balls, downtown clubs and bars, lovely restaurants and I meet new people from all over the world all the time.
    Hope this helps and you make the right decision!
  14. silverfern

    silverfern New commenter

    Can you ask the school to put you in touch (phone/email) with some teachers at the school in a similar stage of life to you? They'd probably be more than happy to talk to you about the realities of living in Cairo, and paint a more 'real' picture of the school, accommodation, city, than you can get from reading guidebooks, etc.
  15. What more do you need, 'City'?
    What school? Where? You're not being stupid - but you are being over cautious. Is it more about leaving UK, rather than moving to Cairo.
    Another tip - learn 'taxi arabic' quick as you can - it helps hugely 'La shokran' (no thank you), 'Andee' (I have..as in already have one, don't want another), 'Bass' (enough - please stop).
    Follow all of these with 'sadeek' (friend) and it helps to avoid hassle.
    Be careful with 'imshi' though - it means 'walk' or 'go' - say 'Imshi alatool' and it means '**** off' (unfortunately, my favourite...)!
    'Oh, and 'ana ize hamsa tash beera minfadluk' (I would like fifteen beers please) is always a winner!

  16. balders23

    balders23 New commenter

    Thank you so much everyone for all the posts so far. My mum is very worried about the possible relocation, she doesn't know very much about the world and only has very small minded opinions of things, I am thinking I am going to accept.
    some people who are living there, and working at the school have said they'll have a chat to me tomorrow so I'll make my mind up then. My poor boyfriend, is desperate to go, he'd leave tomorrow if he could :)

  17. My mother breaks every time I leave. It is horrible.
    But the knowledge that sunshine ahead and 6 pints of wife beater at terminal 5 will make the flight disappear....
    cuts it.
  18. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    ... and there's some interesting hearty rucking going on down your way, Dodgy Dynast, for those like your good self who believe that actions speak louder than words.
    Have you 'got any good hits in'? 'Taken out' your first policeman yet?
  19. Dude I have sent you a PM about my interview tomorrow. Can you login, please? Urgent!
  20. On second thoughts, Ill PM FP....he is so sexy (in Arabic).

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