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!!