Study Abroad Highlight: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Ariana Tolu-Honary’24 shares her experiences abroad in the UAE. “Studying abroad is just such a great opportunity if you are someone who has always wanted to experience living in another country because Beloit makes it so doable.”
Junior Ariana Tolu-Honary is spending her semester studying in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Before embarking on her semester in UAE, Ariana knew she wanted to study abroad during her time at Beloit.
“There were multiple factors that contributed to my interest in studying abroad. Before my study abroad experience, I had never had the opportunity to travel outside the United States. I knew that Beloit encourages students to study abroad, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford it,” Ariana shared. “After looking a little more into it and talking with some of the study abroad advisors in GEO, I learned that Beloit helps make studying abroad possible for students who might need some financial assistance, which is what pushed me to make my decision to study abroad.”
After her initial decision to study abroad, she began researching potential places in her interest area, the Middle East, and eventually landed on The American University of Sharjah in UAE.
“I was mostly interested in the Middle East because of my Middle Eastern heritage and my lack of opportunities to visit the region. I didn’t think there would be many options for me, but to my surprise, there were a couple I could choose from. I looked into my options and found a school (the American University of Sharjah) in the United Arab Emirates that offered a lot of classes that I was really interested in and wouldn’t have the opportunity to take at Beloit,” Ariana explained.
Not only was UAE a perfect place for Ariana to continue her education, but also to learn more about the country and explore the Middle East.
“After doing some research, I found out more about the UAE and what it had to offer. Because my main motive for studying abroad in the Middle East was trying to connect more with my roots and my culture, I found out that the UAE was just the place I was looking for as it offered plenty of opportunities for cultural immersion and learning,” Ariana said.
While abroad, Ariana has found that the international office in her host country has been helpful in many ways for her experience in UAE.
“The international exchange office at AUS was awesome in coordinating activities for fun and for learning for all of the exchange students, so we had so many opportunities to bond with other exchange students as well as locals in fun activities and events. If we ever had questions about AUS, the UAE, or even good places to get our hair or nails done, the peer advisors in the exchange office at AUS were always super helpful and supportive. Having a good support system in my host country made it a stress-free, enjoyable experience,” Ariana explained.
Ariana shared both her favorite and most challenging things she has experienced while in her host country.
“My favorite part of studying abroad in the UAE is that I feel that I’ve learned so much about the history and the culture of the Gulf region and the Middle East as a whole, and I feel more connected to my own heritage and culture than ever before. The most challenging part is trying to find just the right balance between exploring the country and studying for my classes. It feels like there’s always so much to do and simply not enough time!” Ariana said.
Reflecting on her experience, she goes on to recommend study abroad to other students at Beloit College.
“I would definitely recommend this program and study abroad in general to other students. Studying abroad is just such a great opportunity if you are someone who has always wanted to experience living in another country because Beloit makes it so doable,” Ariana explained. “It is always good to get out of your comfort zone and experience what it’s like to really immerse yourself in a culture that is not your own. The experience forces you to grow as a person and gain so much more perspective. If you are someone who is interested in learning more about the Middle East region, the UAE, or Islam, I highly recommend studying abroad at AUS in the United Arab Emirates. And if you are someone who knows little to nothing about the Middle East or Middle Eastern culture, then I highly encourage you to look into it! Studying abroad in the Middle East has truly been a life-changing experience.”
To learn more about studying abroad, visit the Global Experience Office. You can make an appointment on Handshake: https://app.joinhandshake.com/edu
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