Habibis and Shawarmas Past Review

By (Villanova University) - abroad from 01/25/2013 to 06/01/2013 with

CIEE: Sharjah - Business, Engineering, Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how people in the Middle East view us as American, how they think America is and how they view the world as well. I finally got to hear the views of Middle Eastern students on the events of the past 10+ years. It was definitely worth it.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took mostly Arab culture courses and I learned a lot of things that I hadn't known before and probably wouldn't have known if I hadn't gone abroad. However I found them to be very simple and easy classes. I was often bored and rarely wanted to go to these classes. Especially Prof. Gihan's class. Do NOT take her class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Miranda Battenburg -- CIEE's On-Site administrator -- was not helpful at all. She never tried to get to know anyone from our group and she often seemed to ignore our ideas and our questions. I never felt like she knew what she was doing/I never felt like she actually had a job. I took all of my problems and concerns to AUS' International Exchange Office (IXO). IXO has some of the best people on the planet and I would give them 5 stars.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing was decent and comfortable. However, I do not think I was paired well roommate-wise. My roommate wasn't the worst ever, but she wasn't great either and not helpful in the least. I wanted a roommate that spoke Arabic and I didn't get one.

* Food:

Food was amazing. Arabs love to eat and to feed people. Piece of advice, try everything, you are bound to find something you like. Also, if Grace is still there, beg her to make her chicken biryani.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As a black person I noticed some tension among the Arabs and the African community. Not exactly sure why that is, but I began to feel some of it. I was immediately excepted by the Nigerian Culture Club; I think some of the members thought I was Nigerian as well. Since I hung out with them a lot, other students began to think I was Nigerian or from some country on the African continent, so not very many people spoke with me. However, when they found out that I was, in fact, American, then people became much more friendly.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I NEVER felt unsafe on campus or out in the city. I would probably say it was the safest I've felt ever in my 21 years of living.

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


* 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)

I let my mom manage my funds, which was the best and the worst decision ever. I cooked for myself, which helped cut costs, since most students at AUS order out for every meal.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? After I started cooking for myself, about dhs 100 ($27).
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook for yourself if you can -- food is really cheap.


* 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

UAE has become so westernized, especially in Dubai, so just about everyone defaults to English. I was only forced to use Arabic in class and not even there. The Arabic classes are pieced together according to how well the Arabic language prof. thinks your Arabic is. Unfortunately, everyone in my class was not at the same level, so I did not feel like I learned much.

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? Advance 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? Find some Arab friends who are really willing to speak with you and practice with you. Even speak with some adults or professors. They are often flattered when you attempt to speak Arabic.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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?
  • IXO
  • food
  • the friends I made
* What could be improved?
  • Miranda Battenburg
  • roommate system
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how much I would like it, so that I would have gone in the fall and stayed for the year.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!