Frank Chietro of Siena College is telling us about the experience he is having with CIEE Sharjah in general as well as the trip he made with the rest of the CIEE Spring students to the Kingdom of Bahrain!
Overall, the CIEE experience was amazing due to the cultural involvement it had provided in not only in the United Arab of Emirates but also in other Muslim countries. From Arabian cuisine to traditional Arab dress, the United Arab of Emirates had offered many opportunities to experience the culture. Traditional Arabian diet consisted of dishes with grilled meats like lamb, beef, chicken or goat served with rice and a unique sauce depending on the origin of the dish. More importantly, the cuisines are often centuries old and can be connected to the past culture of trading in spices, herbs, and even foods. The experience of being able to observe traditional Arab outfits contributed to my cultural emersion. Kandoras are worn by men and are usually seen in the color white while the Hijabs are black and are typically worn by women.
Dubai itself is simply amazing when comparing its growth from 1991 to 2012. The city itself offers many tourist attractions such as beautiful hotels and beaches, waterparks, boat excursions and even activities like bungee jumping and skydiving. Dubai, after sunset, transforms into a beautifully lite metropolis that can attract the eye for miles upon miles. For a more traditional cultural experience, the Emirate of Sharjah has much to offer. Museums display the culture of Islam while the souks are littered with shops at every corner waiting for tourist to enter. There are also many historical sights that are scattered throughout the Emirate. Here is only a glimpse of what the United Arab of Emirates has to offer as far as cultural means.
CIEE’s program placed its students, including myself, within the walls of the number one ranked school in the United Arab of Emirates, the American University of Sharjah. The campus offers classes from engineering to mass communication while also providing an ethnically diverse student body. The school runs a college fair along with student elections and other activities. The college fair allows AUS students to meet potential employers or even open a gateway to a summer internship. Inside the classroom at AUS, students are challenged in their respective fields while also enjoying a relative small class size that proves to be helpful when it comes to questions and personal connections to the professor(s). The campus also provides a beautiful design of traditional Islamic architecture at can be admired at every corner. The program through CIEE allowed for a truly new experience on a campus far from home.
The CIEE trip to Bahrain was truly a great experience. Traveling to Arab countries has always been a desire of mine and I was thrilled that CIEE allowed us the opportunity to go. Most importantly, we had lunch at a traditional Iraqi restaurant in Bahrain and I really enjoyed the authentic meal and the cultural décor. The restaurant itself had a great ambience and cultural feel, which proved in enhancing the experience. I was able to learn more about traditional Iraqi cuisine like Dolma, which is made from grape leaves and a stuffing that may include tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, garlic and sometimes meat. We also visited the Bahrain International Circuit but unfortunately there were no races in progress. It was still worthwhile to see the track and all it had to offer. Another memorable experience was the Bahrain Mosque where we were able to observe an alternate architectural design in comparison to the traditional mosques seen all over the United Arab of Emirates. Moreover, having the privilege to see the Tree of Life and also the Qal’at Al-Bahrain fort allowed for a better experience and a greater emersion into the cultural. Qal’at Al-Bahrain provided myself and other students a glimpse of ancient Islamic history. To finish off the trip, we had a traditional Bahraini meal that was truly fantastic. Overall, the CIEE trip to Bahrain proved to be an excellent experience that provided everyone with further cultural emersion and memories that will last a lifetime.
(Tree of Life)
(Qal’at Al-Bahrain fort)