Ashley Handy - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
"Being able to study abroad in the UAE was the best experience ever. I come from an Arab family, but I never had the opportunity to actually visit the Middle East. When I decided I wanted to study abroad, I already knew exactly where I wanted to go: Dubai. I have been obsessed with Dubai since it was just a desert starting to become a city. When I mentioned my plans to the PIC, they said that it wasn't one of the programs they offered, so I had to research on my own. After extensive research, applications, and emails, I was offered a full scholarship to attend the American University in Dubai. I was stoked.
Long story short, August of 2014, I packed my bags and got ready to go on what I thought would be the best adventure ever... and so it was.
My experience there was amazing. I got to meet people from all over the world. I learned about the Emirati culture, expanded my Arabic vocabulary, and I got to explore 4 out the 7 Emirates: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, and Sharjah. I learned how to work in a diverse environment and how to communicate effectively with people from other cultures. Adding this experience to my resume has given me wonderful opportunities. It is a great and one of my favorite topics to talk about during interviews, people love to hear about it.
I encourage everyone to study abroad. Once you leave your home country and immerse yourself in a different culture, your mind opens to so many new things. It's like taking a blindfold off of your eyes. A lot of people don't understand how important it is to go out and explore different cultures. It truly opens your eyes to the reality we live in, not what the media and society tell you. Dubai thought me how to break stereotypes, and I'm sure every country I visit in the future, will do the same".