Celebrating my Birthday Abroad
This month I was able to celebrate my birthday abroad. I turned 21 earlier this month and had the opportunity with many of my friends I have made the last couple months. Celebrating my birthday was a moment that made me feel a little homesick. Birthdays are something that everyone is used to celebrating with family and their close friends, but when you are abroad you don’t have your family or your old friends. I can’t deny that I did feel a little homesick, because I did miss my family and friends, but new friends here didn’t let it get bad or let the feeling stay around too long.
This birthday wasn’t just any birthday, it was my 21st birthday, and as many know in the States that is considered a very big deal. But, I’m in a dry state in the UAE, so the normal “American” celebrations were not possible.
The exchange office did their best to make me feel at home. They got me donut holes, eclairs, and donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts to celebrate the day. Later that day I went to dinner in Ajman. Dinner in Ajman was a great experience, we went to a small cafe and plan to go back again. The owner helped us select dinner and was very helpful. The menu was all in Arabic and we needed the help, and he also let us know what the kitchen makes the bests!
The next day I was able to have my first drink. Another friend took me to Pier 7 on the Dubai Marina. Pier 7 is a 7 story tower, each tower has it’s restaurant all looking over the marina. The restaurant had great views of the marina and had great vibes. We then all went to Birasti, a beach side restaurant. Birasti was another great place to meet with friends. It had a private beach and a great view of Atlantis at the Palm.
The birthday celebrations didn’t stop there. The next day Professor Kappen from my home university, Drake University, visited. We went to the seafood restaurant connected to the Sharjah Aquarium. We picked out our fish and our shrimp by hand and had a glorious dinner. It was great having the opportunity to tell someone about my experiences so far. Professor Kappen is one of the main motivators for myself to go abroad and to select a region less popular by most students. I am very grateful that he challenged me to do something better with my semester abroad. After getting lost trying to find the Main Souk we had some team on the corniche and said our good byes. He was off to Doha for a seminar.
And the birthday celebrations just keep coming! Thursday many exchange students chose to go out in Dubai for a mass birthday celebration. Their were many birthdays that week, so many of us wanted to have a proper party. Some students looking to study abroad in Sharjah may wonder what the night scene is like in an Islamic country. The night scene is very alive in Dubai, much like any large metropolitan across the globe. If you are 21 you have the opportunity to go some of the most exciting clubs and gorgeous lounges in the region and possibly the world, great views and great atmospheres. Thursday night I had the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of Dubai at night! The night ended when with a taxi ride back to campus at 7 am after a night of no sleep. I had the taxi driver stop for tea and breakfast at a popular stop outside of campus, Khabeer al Shay.
Celebrating your birthday abroad may bring about feelings of homesickness and make you miss many of the comforts of home. Making friends and a plan can keep those feelings away and allow you celebrate your birthday to the fullest. It was a great week of celebration!
I will be blogging about my trip to Musandam, Oman after spring break and when I return from Egypt!