Sweet summer sweat!
Early in September a fine group of students flew from all over the US to the UAE (Fun Fact, only one other country share the same abbreviated U in it which is UK) in a hope to get to know the mysteries of Arabia during the Fall semester. The first cultural shock they had was finding that even though UAE academic system share the same semester naming system of Fall, Spring and Summer, they should have been actually named Somewhat summer, Nice summer and Burning summer respectively.
“I have only been in the United Arab Emirates for one week and I already feel at home, granted this is now my third home behind Minneapolis and New Berlin! In that short week I have been quite busy. Before I get into everything I have done so far I want to explain the weather I have been enjoying. EVERY DAY IS 110 DEGREES AND SUNNY! I always knew the UAE was in the dessert and it was hot, but it didn't occur to me that it would be HOT! At least not so consistently. The only day that deviated from this norm was a chilly 100 degrees.”
Lest get ready to rumble
Orientation week went by quickly as a number of sightseeing trips around Sharjah and Dubai were included to introduce the group to their surroundings. Visits to the old town and the museums of the Sharjah as well as a day in downtown Dubai that started with an Emirati authentic breakfast and ended with having a Camel Burger.
“We had a CIEE orientation with just our small group. I absolutely love the group of people we have this semester. We are all so different and here for different reasons but we just work well together and along with Abu Bakr we make a rather absurd family...in a beautiful way of course. (Side note, sometimes we just call Abu Bakr Abu, which means father in Arabic, we do it intentionally because he is like the big brother or dad of our group. He is always looking out for us and sending us reminder texts to get to the buses. Oh, and he brings us food!)”
Captain Humos, I have a map of a Falafel hunt
After settling into the headquarters at AUS and only when they thought it is time to go through these textbooks, the students were asked to prove that they can master the quest of using a map, Bus tickets and a Metro card by leaving the campus in the morning, visiting a set of sites and meeting the RD for dinner at a Lebanese Falafel place as a reward for their courage.
Putting aside all the add, drop, audit re-add, change section requests that came along the breeze of October, our group of students are starting to glue together as well as melt into the local student community.
“My experience with CIEE in Sharjah has been the best of my life. I really enjoy exploring the cultural aspects of the UAE and learning about the country. Abu Bakr has been a great resident director. He has gone above and beyond to help students out. He is a great guy and a great friend.”
I can show you the world!
One of the main highlights of this month was the (I can show you the world on a magic carpet) trip as I like to call it. It all began with a week long holiday that was announced so late for any cheap flight bookings, so as the students approached me for recommendations I suggested for them to go on a self-organized trip in the western desert of the country. Having little knowledge of the area, the students opted to ask one of their professors who teaches them a history class related of the Arabian states and who happens to be a sheikh of the ruling family.
Next thing they knew, their passports were being collected and a full 7-day schedule was booked for them that included, private jet, helicopter ride, camel ride, quad bike ride, five star hotel, villa with private beach on an island, a mountain trip, running with giraffes and hunting with archery and falcons among other dull things.
As the heat kept falling, a girl was rising
At the end of the month, reality as crawling back upon us as the mid-term tests were approaching but nevertheless, these students will have fond memories for many years to come.
Another highlight of the month was the screening of the video Girl Rising event, where CIEE hosted a screening of the movie at AUS. Attended by about 5p students, faculty and staff, the screening was a big hit by AUS standards and was followed by a discussion led by our student Tanya Budler.
As the weather is getting better and better, November shall see many trips that include visits to the old city of Dubai, Global village as well as a 2-night trip to Oman.