Spring is Here!
Early in February, 12 of students flew from all over the US to the UAE in the hope of getting to know the mysteries of Arabia during the Spring semester.
Any traveler visiting a new country would ask for the monetary conversion rates as soon as they land. But our students were asking for the temperature conversion rates to tweet back home how the weather feels here.
Nichole Ferron from University of Oklahoma was having some fun in the sun:
“The temperature is fantastic and if it weren’t for the fact that I have to cover more than back home, I’d be extremely fine with the weather. Everything about this place and its people is fascinating and I can’t wait to learn more and discover more. Every day is a new adventure and a new lesson for me to learn!”
Dubai .. here we come
Orientation week went by so quickly with plenty of sighting, including the old town and the museums of the UAE as well as a nice day in downtown Dubai that started with an authentic Emirati breakfast.
Kamra Hakim of Arizona state university says:
“From the classroom to the streets of Dubai, I have learned more about myself in the past two months, than I have in an entire year. I think I chose to study in the UAE because the boiling temperatures would fill any nostalgia that would arise about my home, Phoenix, Arizona. Personally, I adapt to different environments very well, so there aren’t many things that have negatively shaken my experience. I just feel blessed to be alive and thriving in one of the most magnificent destinations in the world, and amongst some of the most intelligent and charismatic human beings to walk this planet.”
Map anyone? We need to get there!
After getting settled and adjusted to their home base at AUS, and before tackling the textbooks, they were asked to prove that they can master the quest of using a map, with a bus ticket and a metro card in hand, the group left the campus in the morning, visiting a set of sites and meeting the RD for dinner at an Emirati restaurant where we gathered to reward them for their courage.
Paige King from Bethel University has some thoughts as well
“I wanted to break some of the misconceptions - to see if I could establish relationships with people here and see the world through a different lens. This started happening immediately within the first week of my being here, and my knowledge and fascination with this beautiful place is only continuing to grow. The people I’ve met in the UAE are some of the nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met in my life. What has shook me the most has been the idea that I could feel so at home in such a different environment.”
Oman Oh .. Man!
We packed our bags for a weekend trip to Muscat, Oman. After we indulged ourselves at the banana and date oasis in the Omani mountains, we then visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Other Omani highlights included visiting old villages, castles and souks. And it wouldn’t be a trip if quality food wasn’t included, not to mention the numbing experience of juices, spices, coffees, dates and scents.
Abu Dhabi, ready or not!
We started the day at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. “Grand” may be a bit of understatement here, since it has the largest chandelier and largest carpet in the world, along with its 82 domes, 1000+ outer columns and 96 columns in the main prayer hall, each inlaid with mother of pearl and semi-precious stones.
We also went to Masdar city, an eco friendly city that comprises three business units--including Masdar Capital, Masdar Clean Energy and Masdar City--and is complemented by Masdar Institute, an independent, research-driven graduate university.
As always, there was lunch! This time the students were introduced to the Iraqi style Magoof fish. We visited Al Sadyat island where the Abu Dhabi government has embarked in a major cultural project to open branches of the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the London Museums.
Almas Ali, a student from University of New Haven, stated:
“The first thing I remember when arriving to AUS was simply the endless beauty and striking architecture, honestly this school just took my breath away. I was afraid that when I came here I wouldn’t be able to make friends the way I had back home, and I was truly proven wrong. I’ve met some of the most amazing people of my life here, both exchange students and locals. The UAE is one of the most diverse places I’ve ever traveled to, and I’ve traveled a lot; so get ready to meet lots of new different types of people! I arrived in late January and the weather was perfection, low 70s. However, it is starting to heat up, but I think I’m starting to build up some resistance.”