First Month at the American University of Sharjah

Authored by:
Rawya Abu Hajleh

After a month of schooling and living in the UAE, Fordham University student, Catherine Tadin has already experienced both the ups and downs of studying abroad. Catherine chose to spend the entirety of her Junior year of college at the American University of Sharjah for many reasons. As a Middle Eastern studies major, she had the choice of studying in the UAE at her current program, or Amman, Jordan. Although it was a difficult choice, Catherine ultimately decided to travel to the UAE after researching its lush diversity of demographics. 

    The diversity of people in the UAE has not disappointed Catherine. She says that thus far, that has been one of the most positive elements of life in the UAE. Along with diversity, she has found her piers at AUS to be incredibly open about their backgrounds and experiences. Catherine has found her study abroad experience to be uniquely individual from her past experiences in travelling. Academically, the university itself has very different methods as well as courses offered. Catherine expressed the troubles she had with finding major and minor classes that would properly transfer back to her home university. Perhaps most importantly, she wanted to continue her Arabic Language studies at AUS, however her home university would not accept any language course offered at AUS given that the levels of the courses were seemingly the ones she had already taken at home. Although the material would be entirely new, the course code was not. Despite the fact that Catherine was unable to enroll in Arabic classes at AUS, she has started taking advantage of the free access to the language institute in University City. Catherine says she’s grateful for the resource to continue her Arabic learning, and is excited by the prospect of transitioning into dialects. 

      Along with course troubles, Catherine, like many others who reside in the UAE, struggled with acclimating to the blistering heat of the humid summer. However, she awaits patiently with the community for the gorgeous winter to come. Being born and raised in Chicago, and living her college career in New York City, Catherine is used to the bustle and compact culture of the ‘big apple’; and although University City has its charms, the UAE is far less walkable than perhaps, New York City. Because of this, Catherine has had to familiarize herself with taxi and public transportation, more than it may be necessary for her at home.

     When asked why she wished to explore the Middle East through study and experience, Catherine referred to civic duty and positive representation. “I want to learn in order to counteract misleading animosity in the West.” As a Christian, and a United States Citizen, Catherine recognizes the barriers that sometimes separate her community from that of the Middle East. She hopes through education, she can help bridge the gap and contribute to a more cooperative global society. 

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