Hi everyone! My name is Aisha Mahmoud. I am a junior studying Computer Science/Computer Engineering at Lyon College in Arkansas, USA. I am currently studying abroad at the American University in Dubai (AUD) for the Fall 2022 semester. I enjoy sports and trying new experiences! I selected AUD as my study abroad destination because it has the perfect blend of me being able to further my education at a highly ranked university, take Arabic and Engineering courses, and still be able to explore an amazing city.
At AUD, I hope that I will be able to widen my knowledge and skill set in the Computer Science field, improve my Arabic, and meet people with whom I will make lifelong connections! I would also love to share my experiences and bring them back to US after what I know will be a semester full of discoveries. This is my second week at AUD and I want to take this opportunity to share my experience so far and let you in on some of my expectations before coming to Dubai.
My expectations before coming to Dubai – well, I did not know what to expect! I am the type of person who likes to know as little as possible so that when I arrive, I am full surprise. I had seen online video tours of the campus, and I had a bit of background knowledge about Dubai and the U.A.E. prior to my arrival. Some things turned out to be exactly as I expected, but some of the things were a total surprise.
Post-arrival: This is very TRUE. It is so hot and the heat is beyond my expectation. Temperatures this week are averaging about a high of 110°F (43.3°C, and this is another thing I should get used to – using Celsius!). When I arrived, there was a bit of a sandstorm. Everything looked hazy and foggy, and I was greeted by cooler 95°F (35°C) weather when I first stepped out of the Dubai International Airport (DXB) at about 11:00 p.m. Yes, I repeat, it was 11:00 p.m. I arrived in Dubai a little earlier in mid-August. Having 95°F at night is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Although I was prepared for the heat, it was still a shock. However, at least there are no mosquitoes! Where I am from in Arkansas, going outside at night is a nightmare due to the number of mosquitos that swarm you as soon as you step outside. Entering any type of indoor establishment is always a race to get the door open and shut in the shortest amount of time before the mosquitoes can follow you inside. I am enjoying the comparatively mosquito-free life style here!
Post-arrival: Dubai is famous for its amazing landscape and use of architecture as artwork to decorate the city. While exploring the city and learning its history, I found out that there are actually residential areas throughout the city with homes and villas. There are no tall buildings in those residential areas. I guess I should have known that, of course, a city is not ALL skyscrapers; there are tall building in downtown and some neighborhoods, such as Dubai Media City where AUD is located, for sure, but there are still residential areas in it as well. It is interesting learning about all the history while experiencing it!
Post-arrival: Yes and no for this one. I do see a lot of the Arab culture from different regions and backgrounds in Dubai, but also, there are so many different types of people here. I was surprised how diverse the population truly is. Many people told me that Dubai has a lot of expats from around the world but when I arrived, it is really something different to experience the “melting pot” – or, more modernly, “mixing salad” in person. The faculty and students are of different nationalities and background. I was exposed to different types of Arabic dialects and different languages and there are many culture clubs on campus. It is beautiful to see all the diversity! I also love and really enjoy the female-only train cars, taxi, waiting areas, and other facilities. This is certainly something I will miss for sure when I return to the States.
Overall, I cannot wait for what else I will discover during my time at AUD. I am sure that there will be more surprises ahead during my AUD journey.