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Should I explain that my program has been suspended?


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Hope no one minds a long rant before I get to my questions....

Well, I knew February was going to be hard with the application thing but I didn't know it would be quite this bad. I am back in the States. British Airways flew me home yesterday from London for free. My original flight to Cairo was cancelled because of the protests and, by the time they rebooked me two days later, the situation was not safe. I would have had to fly into Cairo airport with thousands struggling to get out and hope that I could get through the roadblocks and reach my apartment before curfew came. So I came home instead. My head told me this was right to do, but I have very mixed feelings.

Many of my fellow students actually flew to Cairo a day or two before I did so they have been mainly holed up in their apartments. Our classrooms are immediately on Tahrir Square. Today, the university and program and frantic parents went back and forth and finally the Director said all remaining students must leave Egypt and either go to a safe haven to wait it out or return to the U.S. There are hopes the university can start again in a few weeks if and when the situation settles down but no one knows.

A language immersion program abroad is such an intense experience. Suddenly everything is gone...the students, teachers, the whole lifestyle. This program really was my dream. I did it because I want to do comparative politics and use my language skills to do dissertation research.(Yeah, I'm one of those qualitative types.) Now my possessions are stranded in an empty apartment and the friends whom I studied with for seven months are scattered to the four corners of the globe. I was supposed to be there through May and I have no idea what I am going to do the next four months. If the program reopens and things settle down even a little, I will definitely go back. I don't care about the credits--I care about my Arabic skills.

Despite my complaints, I know that my Egyptian friends I left behind are in the middle of a situation that is a thousand times worse than my own. And some thugs are roaming the streets giving a hard time not just to journalists but to any foreigner they meet. I do have a practical question. Should I let the schools I've applied to know my situation so they understand I am here in the States? Should I explain that my program was suspended and it may or may not continue? In some instances, I am going to have to tell them something because I only listed my Egyptian cell phone on the application and that is back on my kitchen table in Cairo. Plus, I am supposed to report mid-year grades on at least one application, and I don't know what those are or have a way to get a transcript. Do I write the Director of Graduate Studies? What is my obligation here? Never have themes like democratization and authoritarianism seemed so real.

Edited by wannabee
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If you need to give a new phone number certainly call them, the graduate coordinator pr secretary for your department is the right person to help direct you with what to do and who to contact. In addition he or she will be able to personally update your file with whatever information needs to be changed.

That said, we are all glad to hear that you are safe! What a crazy and scary situation has evolved. Best wishes with the remainder of the program, hopefully whatever is best for the students, the program and the people of Egypt will unfold.

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You should definitely notify programs of your current address and contact information. I would also recommend including a succinct explanation that your program in Egypt has been suspended and may/may not reopen this semester (I suspect you could cut/past this language from the Egyptian program's notice). I imagine schools will be sympathetic to your situation, as we all know what is happening in Egypt, but it is best to formally notify them so there isn't confusion later. I would hate for someone to look back in the fall and say "wait a minute, he/she never finished his program... he didn't complete what was expected before admission." I am sure this won't happen, so long as you just keep your schools informed of the situation.

Good luck with everything - I hope you're able to return to your program sometime soon.

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I agree with what has been said. I would notify the schools the change of phone number, first of all, and explain the situation (program cancelled, no access to transcripts, etc.). As somebody mentioned, we all know what's going on in Egypt, and it's not only that the school advised you to come back, the US government is bringing Americans back home, so I would expect understanding from the programs. You didn't give up, the situation forced you to.

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