Asalamalikum Sab ko!
My name is Hajrah Jalil. I am a Junior student from Loyola University Maryland who is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Currently, I am studying abroad at the American University in Dubai (AUD) located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the Spring 2022 semester. I would like to share my experience with you to help you prepare for your future journey at AUD in Dubai.
As a Pakistani American, I am very close to my family. I wanted to gain a sense of independence through my study abroad program because this would be the first time I am away from my family and on my own. So, Why AUD in Dubai?
To answer this question, let me first share with you how I was able to fund my study abroad program. I was awarded both AUD’s William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship and the Gilman Scholarship for the Spring 2022 semester. The Clinton Scholarship covers my tuition as well as on-campus housing at AUD for the semester, whereas with the Gilman Scholarship, I am eligible for up to $5,000 for the health insurance, visa fees, food, travel cost, local transportation, excursions, and other activities. Thanks to the two generous scholarships, I am able to support myself financially and focus on my study at AUD while exploring Dubai. If you are not familiar with the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship at the American University in Dubai, I suggest that you check out their webpage here for more information and not to miss out on this wonderful opportunity!
Another important reason why I chose AUD is because I know that Dubai is a very safe and welcoming city, which is an excellent designation for female students. Also, Dubai is a cultural hub in the Middle East and there are many events and activities going on throughout the year. I would certainly like to take advantage of the opportunities Dubai can offer during my stay so that I can expand my network and build up skills for my future endeavors.
Speaking of events and activities, also another motivation mine coming to Dubai – Expo 2020 (postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic). So far, I have visited several pavilions including Pakistan, India, U.S., Saudi Arabia, and many more. I plan to visit as many pavilions as I can before Expo 2020 ends at the end of March 2022 to learn about the countries’ goals on Sustainability and Opportunity. Environmental sustainability is one of my passions. I am also the co-vice president of the Environmental Action Club (EAC) at my home school. It is amazing to see how countries have set attainable goals to address climate change, making me optimistic about the future of our planet.
One of the most valuable experience from my study abroad program at AUD is that I am learning about foreign policy from a non-western perspective. My classes this semester covering the subjects of Globalization, Foreign Policy and Islamic Civilization have helped me improve my understanding of the interconnectedness of our world.
In addition to studying, I am also enjoying the active student life on campus! I joined the Eco Club and the Pakistani Students’ Association at AUD and have attended several on-campus events. I have been able to meet people with similar interests and make friends easily through these student organizations.
Of course, there are challenges as well. With some effort, I am now able to manage my time efficiently so I can stay on top of my assignments and have time to explore. Midway through the semester and I am starting to feel homesickness, because this is my first time away from home and from my parents. However, I am going to make the most of my stay at AUD and continue to gain a sense of independence that I am thriving off.
Since arriving in Dubai, I was exposed to a lot of different languages and cultures. The AUD campus and Dubai are incredibly diverse. If you talk to a group of students on campus randomly, they are likely all from different countries and continents. This mind-opening experience is something I never experienced before and also something I would like to share with everyone.
With the remainder of the semester left, I am also planning to explore other Emirates in the UAE, such as Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. At the end of March, I have a friend visiting for a week and we plan to take a hot air balloon ride and a desert safari (second time for me), spend another day at Expo 2020, ride a Gyrocopter around Dubai, explore the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, visit Old Dubai’s Creek and the Souks, and go to the Miracle Garden. So much more to do and so much more to share with you in the near future!
Hajrah Jalil is also a guest blogger for Amideast Education Abroad Connect for the Spring 2022. This blog post can also be found at https://www.amideastedabroad.org/home/category/UAE.
Dubai, UAE, Spring 2022