Afghanistan is bordered on the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, on the extreme northeast by China, on the east and south by Pakistan, and by Iran on the west. With the exception of the southwest, most of the country is covered by high snow-capped mountains and is traversed by deep valleys. The Afghan economy has been growing at about 10% per year in the last decade, which is due to the infusion of over $50 billion dollars in international aid and remittances from Afghan expats. It is also due to improvements made to the transportation system and agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nation's economy. The 41st largest nation in the world, Afghanistan lies between Iran and China and is a landlocked sovereign state. The country has a long and sometimes troubled history, but will perhaps ultimately be remembered as one of the very first known nations that housed mankind, with human fossils dating back as far as the Middle Paleolithic age, or the stone age, which dates back to around a quarter million years ago.
A little more recently, Afghanistan has been key in the history of the Silk Road. Afghanistan has also always been an important area in regards to human migration, serving as a crossroads across Asia.
The country boasts a population of around thirty million people living across an area of 647,500 square miles. Most recently the country began recovering from three decades of war which made it, for a time, one of the most dangerous countries, as well as a chief producer of refugees and other asylum seekers. Conditions have improved somewhat, but anyone considering studying in Afghanistan should know that the country has a long history of conflict.
Afghanistan at a Glance
If you're going to Afghanistan to study, here's what you need to know right up front:
- Hot and Dry
Dress light, but bring long sleeved shirts and long pants to help protect you from the sun. It's not always the heat alone, but the hot sun that gets you.
- Learn to Love Drinking Water
Develop a gallon-a-day drinking habit so that you can stay hydrated in the desert.
- Applying for Your Visa
You'll want to go to your Consular Office to apply for a student visa to Afghanistan. Remember that there are a lot of factors that weigh into this, so you may want to have a backup school in mind somewhere else.
- 10.68 Rent Index
The 10.68 rent index refers to what you can expect to pay for an apartment in Kabul. In Toronto, Canada, the rent index is more than five times that, so think of it as roughly a fifth what you would pay for rent in a large city in the west. You may be able to find a good one bedroom apartment for around $350 a month, while groceries and restaurant visits are roughly equivalent to what you'd pay in the US.
- Staying Healthy
Your best health insurance policy before visiting a new country is always going to be a round of shots, but beyond that, you'll want to look into what your health insurance provider at home offers for travelers. Cigna and Blue Cross offer some plans that may help you stay covered come what may.
- Use Your Right Hand
It's not a stereotype, it's a real cultural taboo to shake or high five with the left hand. Make sure you don't touch anyone with your foot or shoe, either.
Study in Afghanistan
A Look at Advanced Education in Afghanistan
Advanced education in Afghanistan is not just a means of learning a little more about art or math or science. Rather, advanced education in Afghanistan offers hope for the future. At the American University of Afghanistan, although women's rights in the nation have a troubled history, around one third of the school's population were female at last check.
The school boasts close to 2,000 students, and their graduation ceremonies represent not only a generation of young people making their way into the world, but a generation of Afghan people looking to make a better tomorrow for their homeland. A burden rests on the shoulders of these young adults to lead their country into an age of peace and enlightenment.
And this gets us to what it takes to study in Afghanistan. Studying in Afghanistan is not something to consider if you just want to make use of their great mathematics programs or earn a few credits for your medical degree. The universities in Afghanistan are good and getting better, but the real reason to study in Afghanistan is because you take an interest in the future of the country, in human rights, in the advancement of rights for women everywhere, and in the cause of peace.
Studying in Afghanistan demands that one goes in with both eyes open. The simple fact of the matter is that Afghanistan, though not as dangerous as it was just a few years ago, is still a country torn by war and rife with social, cultural and governmental problems. The next generation of Afghan students and Americans and Europeans who go to Afghanistan to study necessarily must take an interest not only in their chosen professional field, but in the cause of human rights.
Essentially, studying in Afghanistan comes with a certain degree of responsibility. If you want to relax on the beach between classes, then you may want to consider study in the Caribbean islands. If you want to enjoy local culture, then you may want to consider study in Hong Kong or London. If you study in Afghanistan, you're going to be confronted face to face with many of the problems that face our generation around the world.
NATO has agreed to a withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, but Taliban and anti-Taliban forces are expected to push, political and potentially in combat, for power following the withdrawal. If you are considering visiting Afghanistan to study, you would be well-advised to have an exit strategy in place in case the situation worsens, and know how to get to the US embassy from wherever you're staying and studying. For anyone who is serious about learning about human rights and middle eastern politics firsthand, we don't mean to discourage you, only to let you know the reality of the situation so that you can go in properly prepared and well-informed.
We don't want to tell you not to study in Afghanistan, but know that parts of the country are still dangerous, and the situation remains sensitive. This being said, studying in Afghanistan will be a tremendous learning experience for future leaders and innovators in public service.