What was that Fall about!
This blog was written by, Mikaela Boston. Rock climber, a Taekwondo instructor and a scout among other things!
Though in her free time she is a full year student from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities:
The Little Things
As the semester draws to a close it’s a fantastic time to look back at the things we have done in the last couple of months here in the desert. Since the overnight safari in early November our CIEE clan has been just as busy as ever before. Within the week following the safari we attended a performance of Antony and Cleopatra in which one of our own CIEE students was a stage manager and several IXO students were acting in the play itself (Nov 11) we went to the Sharjah Book Fair (Nov 12), where you can find more Arabic books than anywhere else (at least as far as I’ve seen), and). And finally, on the day before Thanksgiving, we visited the Emirati Cultural Centre where we learned about some of the culture and were able to have henna done and watched Dabke dancing (Nov 26).
For Thanksgiving, the International Exchange Office (AKA IXO) hosted a dinner at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club.
Spending Thanksgiving away from family for the first time with 7,200 miles between you is definitely an experience you are never likely to forget and will forever make you even more thankful for the time you do get to spend with your family. But beyond that it makes you realize how thankful you should be for the experience you are having so far from home and family. Thanksgiving is when it really clicked for me that this is home too, and I have family here now. I have friends who made sure I was not alone for a family focused holiday. It didn’t matter that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, they kept me busy all day with a bowling match, then billiards, and finally I was off to Thanksgiving dinner with the rest of international students. I admit, I have never thought of having Thanksgiving dinner at a shooting club.
National Day and Global Village
This year for National Day on December 2nd AUS cancelled classes for three class days, that’s right, that’s not counting the weekend. Five days without classes. Of course the main campus had a huge event going on with food stalls, live performances of singing, dancing, poetry, and lots of crazy lights everywhere. During this break we went for an outing to Global Village. Global Village is a giant tourist trap if ever there was one. Covering around 395 acres. The, for lack of a better word, park is a representation of the major countries around the world (except African countries, all of Africa is “Africa”). It is reminiscent of Disney’s World’s Epcot. Every country has its own setting, food, merchandise, and feel to it. From spices and honey in “Yemen” to carved figurines in “Africa” you can find just about anything you could think of while wandering around the world in a day.
BBQ in the Al-Ain
What better way to celebrate the break than to head out to Al-Ain for some great food and time to mess around. It was great to see some elevation and have rocks to climb around on. Climbing, hiking, hot-springs, a few rounds of the game “Mafia” and fantastic food were just some of the highlights of the trip. It was definitely that time of the semester where everyone needed a day to relax and get off campus for a while.
Al Ahli sports club
Football time! No, not an early superbowl, that’s for “hand-oval.” No, this was a CIEE outing to Ahli sports club to watch a football game, from the VIP section. We were able to walk the red carpet and everything to get to the VIP area with free snacks, a lounge, etc. It made us feel a bit pampered. Then we stopped off for some Egyptian Kushari followed by Iraqi tea, the latter is always enjoyable.
Dec 12 – Musandam
Words for Musandam? Boats, cliffs, swimming, coves, fun, open air, refreshing, vastness. Spending the day out on a boat, or jumping off the second deck of said boat, was a relaxing experience much different than anything we had done so far.
As one fellow international students said:
“Openness in ocean, mountain coast, and sky. After being surrounded by the buildings and atmosphere of Musundam, Oman was a great reprieve. The swimming, snorkeling and boat rides were as memorable as casually lounging about the boat and playing cards. A very enjoyable trip and I would definitely go again ”.
Dec 17 - Burj Khalifa & Farewell dinner
Our last big CIEE event was exciting, fun, unique, and of course sad. We went to the tallest building in the world and went up to the highest observation deck to look out over the web of light that is Dubai at night.
After the Burj Khalifa we went to dinner at Al-Fanar restaurant for some traditional Emirati cuisine.
In addition to the CIEE and IXO events there were of course some personal adventures out to the desert, and the malls, and of course spending New Year’s Eve in Dubai. Some of my experiences included ice-skating at Dubai Mall, an aerial obstacle course and rock-climbing, finding a way to the roof of a friend’s apartment to watch the fireworks at Burj Khalifa and Burj al-Arab, and some trips out to walk in the sand dunes.
Adventures have become exceedingly less frequent since finals have started, professors love to keep us busy. I do get to look forward to my family coming for the semester break and being able to share some of this incredible adventure with them. Lucky them, they get to escape the Minnesota winter for a couple of weeks and spend some time in a desert winter instead, a bit different than what they are used to in January.
This last image by Mikaela was the spectacular Burj Khalifa During the New Year celebrations. This is how UAE concluded an eventful year and received a new one. We at CIEE also would like to celebrate the Fall 14 cohort and wish them all the best in their lives as well as celebrate our incoming cohort of Spring 15 arriving in 10 days!
Stay tuned to know more about Mikaela and her new CIEE colleagues for the Spring semester
Abu Bakr Al Ani
CIEE resident Director – Sharjah UAE