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Time June 30th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After 5 months abroad, I have finally returned home. School ended about two and a half weeks ago and I have been in the U.S. for a week. The last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of activity and emotions.

Saying good bye to the friends I made over my semester was terribly difficult, but with technology we hope to stay in contact. One even lives only a couple of hours away!

I was able to stop on my way home in Brussels, Belgium for a long weekend to meet with a friend. It felt like a world away, but was a much needed holiday after school. The weather there was sometimes as much as 50 degrees cooler than Dubai was at the same time. I was really cold most of the time I was there, and was very bummed when my luggage was lost and I didn’t have any cold weather clothes. Having the opportunity to meet with someone else who had just completed their study abroad experience in the city they called home for the last few months was really cool. We got to share and compare experiences and talk about how we had changed as people and our outlooks on life.

But, I have to say it is relaxing to be home again. Home is comfortable and welcoming, but now I definitely know that the rest of the world is only a plane ticket or a car trip away, and I can’t wait to see more.

I don’t want to make my experience sound like the perfect vacation. I did have homesickness and depression at times, and they definitely effected my experience at time. It was very tough to watch things happen at home and know that there was little you could to help friends or enjoy the experience with them. The last couple weeks were particularly tough, as I was very much looking forward to being back home, but school was in the way.

Study abroad helped me grow as a person in ways that I may not be able to notice yet, but the experiences I have will be with me forever. This experience will be something I am happy that I took part of for a long time, but I know there will be times that I second guess my decision.

Study Abroad is a great opportunity to test yourself, and see your boundaries and surpass them. You will be put in many uncomfortable situations and will learn more about yourself and the people who are close to you while you share the experience. It may help you realize how enjoyable your life is and how much you enjoy your life at home. Or it could open your eyes to how much more the world has to offer. Hopefully, it will provide both.

As my last message I would like to share something a friend told me about his experience and a thought I share, “I loved my experience, but at the end if someone offered me a free week instead of going home, I would turn them down.”

 

Thanks,

 

Tom

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Let’s talk FOOD

Time June 1st, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As the semester is coming to an end I just want to take a moment to recognize the delicious food that the UAE and the region has to offer.

I am not going to show pictures of any of the food from fancy restaurants that I have been to, but rather the street food that I have frequently and prefer most of the time over the places in Dubai Mall, The Marina or JBR. These places only require less than 10 dirhams a person to have a good meal or sometimes just a small snack.

My favorite place in all of Sharjah is Karak Road. Karak Road is right outside of campus is frequented by students here. Karak road is simply the road leaving campus towards Emirates 311 to Dubai or downtown Sharjah. The road is lined to one side with the desert and the other side has tea shops, burger places, Middle Eastern places, tailors, shoe stores, Chinese places, and random cafeterias. My favorite place to stop is Khabeer al Shay, the big tea in English. They sell karak, barata, smoothies and many other things. Karak is a kind of tea that has milk and spices added. They sell a small for 1 Dirham and a large for 2 Dirham. The larges have a lid, so I usually go for those. Barata is wrapped snack, view the pics to see them. You can get anything you want inside of them. Popular mixes are: cheese and honey; cheese, hot sauce, and chips; and cheese, hot sauce, chips and a hot dog. They are all really good and don’t sell for more than 4 dirhams a piece. If I had my own car I would be at Khabeer al Shay daily, but even without one I find myself there more days than not!

Another place on Karak road is called, On the Wood. On the Wood is a Lebanese restaurant. That is where I buy my manaeesh and Shawarma sometimes. the manaeesh is pictured above. On the Wood is also only a few meters away from Khabeer al Shay, so you can order at On the Wood go get tea and come back to pick up your order, all with out leaving your car.

The semester is coming to close and I have about 10 days left in the UAE. I am sad to go, but excited to be home at the same time.

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Working in Dubai– I Got an Internship! + Grand Mosque Visit

Time May 12th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After spring break I was lucky enough to have an interview with Mercer in Dubai. I had worked for Mercer at home in Des Moines during the summer and also during the Fall Semester and during that time had reached out to the office in Dubai about a possible job Shadow. When I met with them the expressed their interest in having me come into the office and work on a project for the remainder of my time in the UAE. I was ecstatic at the opportunity and it only got better when the offered to pay for my travel and give me a monthly salary. This was definitely meant to be and I have been extremely gracious of the opportunity.

With my working, I am now in Dubai three times a week minimum. This has opened my eyes to how much fun and lively Dubai is. It takes me about an hour and half to get to work, using a school shuttle and the metro, but by the time I’m there it feels as though I am in a completely different world. Dubai, unlike Sharjah, is much more liberal with the Islamic laws in culture. I see women and men professional dressed like they would be any where else in the world. The building I work in is called Dubai International Financial Center, DIFC, and it is a small city. It contains many international companies, restaurants, gyms, art galleries and more. If you have seen Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise runs through the building when chasing someone from the Burj Khalifa. Back to the excitment of Dubai, I find myself after work not being in a rush to get back to campus. I have met with friends for dinner around the city, gone to drinks with my coworkers, watched movies, watched the fountains, among other things. When I am in Dubai it feels much more exciting and has helped me realize that this could be somewhere I would want to live in the future if the possibility arises. The city never sleeps and there is always something exciting happening, you might just have to look for it a little. That is when you sue the “Time out Dubai” publication or their website. They share all of the upcoming events in the city.

This is short post, but I am also going to include some pictures of my visit to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This structure is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. Myself and the other exchange students got in a little trouble when we posed for pictures, but beyond that it was an easy trip. Here is some facts about the Mosque. The pictures don’t do it justice, but when visiting the UAE it is a definite stop. Just make sure to dress appropriately otherwise you have to buy clothes from their store and they look pretty funny!

Going to Oman this weekend and the school year will be done before I know it! a month from today!

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Celebrating my Birthday Abroad

Time March 30th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Sharjah UAE, United Arab Emirates | No Comments by

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. Read More »

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Butler IFSA Orientation

Time February 19th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Sharjah UAE, United Arab Emirates | No Comments by

I realize I am running a little behind, but I plan on catching up over the weekend. Here we go!

Orientation provided by Butler IFSA was extremely valuable and enjoyable!! We were able to see the Heart of Sharjah and Dubai before moving into my dorms and experience the culture with the guide of Chris, David and Mohamed.

It all began when I landed in Dubai and went to acquire my visa for the semester and found that they did not have my visa. After a minor panic attack, contacting anyone I can and a 5 1/2 hour wait I received my visa and continued through passport check and met Chris outside luggage pick up. She was very helpful in fixing the issue!

Chris, David, and Mohamed lead some very informative cultural education sessions on the UAE and differences between Dubai, Sharjah and the U.S. We were soon though experiencing the culture as we went to the Global Village, basically a larger Disney Epcot with shops and food, and met Patrick, a student already at AUS for a semester, and Kiri, our regional director.

We went to The Dubai Mall the next day and realized the sheer size of this mall. I have now been there over 4 times and I am sure that I have not seen it all. It is truly spectacular.

Fast forward to the final day, easily the most jam packed and exciting. We walked the area known as the Hearth of Sharjah and visited the Islamic Heritage Museum. We did more walking outside that day than we had all week and it turned out to be the warmest. We moved on to view the livestock souk, exotic animal souk, and the Central Souk in Sharjah. the exotic animal souk included adult falcons, large parrots, tortoises, peacocks and many, many more. We stopped at a tiny Indian restaurant in Sharjah. We were the only white people in the restaurant and were the only people served with silverware. I don’t remember the name, which is a shame, but continued proof that hole-in-the-wall places are amazing!!

The day concluded with a trip back to The Dubai Mall and dinner over looking the fountains. The area of The Dubai Mall shows the majesty of what this country has to show. The world’s largest mall, with the world’s largest fountains with the backdrop of the world’s tallest building. Dinner was very enjoyable, Mohamed made sure that Moises and I did not leave orientation hungry. We had nearly the equivalent of a 5 course meal before we left and viewed 3 fountain shows. It was a remarkable dining experience, but the night was not over, we left dinner to go to the 124th of the Burj Khalifa. The height we were at was unthinkable, especially when we were able to walk outside onto a viewing deck. This was really an amazing experience, and a truly great send off to AUS from Butler-IFSA. I just want to thank Chris, Mohamed and David for the experience!

Again, I’m trying to catch up to present, the next post should be very soon!!

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