Camel Burgers September 24, 2014

By (Villanova University) - abroad from 01/26/2013 to 06/01/2013 with

American University of Sharjah: Sharjah - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience reassured my love for cultures and people. It reawakened a drive for learning and for travel. I was finally able to experience Middle Eastern culture and Islam first hand and was able to put all my fears, which stemmed from Western propaganda, to rest. I was able to make friends that I aim to keep for the rest of my life and to visit very soon. It was definitely worthwhile!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes varied, but i would say that overall the classes weren't as difficult or as demanding as my classes at Villanova University.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IXO was honestly the best thing about AUS! There were always available when I had questions or needed to talk or had an idea about a group excursion.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorm are very nice and they have various dorm activities throughout the year. However, my roommate situation wasn't that great. I think AUS could do a bit better with setting students up with others closer in age and year.

* Food:

Food on campus get a little boring so I recommend eating off campus every now and again. I also recommend cooking if you know how to because buying groceries and supplies is very cheap easy at Matajer! (I spent DH 300 (~$100) on cookware and a month's worth of food) Also, YOU MUST TRY CAMEL BURGER OR STEAK. I recommend going to a restaurant called Switch in the Dubai Mall.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like I was pretty integrated and educated on local culture, but there was plenty of room for more integration. I don't think 6 months was really enough.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The on campus health center was very helpful. The worst part of my 6 months was spending an entire at the Ministry of Health waiting to get checked out for my visa. They could be a lot more organized and efficient. However, there is not a huge difference in healthcare in America. UAE is very modernized on that front.

* Safety:

Although Dubai is very lenient because of the amount of tourist it attracts, Sharjah is much more strict in the Islamic sense. You don't have to wear a burka, but you should be respectfully covered (no short sleeves, no short shorts). If you ever went to private school or had a dress code, just abide by the rules you had then and you shouldn't be in any trouble.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

After settling in and buying books, living was extremely easy. However, I did struggle a little with not being able to go and explore everything I wanted because of money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you plan on doing a lot of exploring, save a lot of money beforehand! Also, IXO has coupon books in their office so take advantage of them.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

They encouraged you to use Arabic, but it was difficult because everyone there wants to practice their English with you.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Arabic
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Just use it with everyone and don't be afraid to make mistakes. You'll make friends and they will correct you. Also, just visit nearby souqs and restaurants and limit yourself to Arabic only.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Food
  • Emphasis on diversity and culture
  • Sense of community
* What could be improved?
  • Roommate assignment
  • Registration
  • More emphasis on language
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think my experience went the way it was supposed to. I don't wish I knew anything earlier.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.