Participating in a study abroad program in Dubai was a rewarding experience. I was able to learn more about myself while reflecting on my strengths, weaknesses, and specific areas that I need to improve. Studying abroad in Dubai was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but there are a few things I wish I knew before departing. Prior to my semester abroad, I wish I knew the level of difficulty of each course I took at the American University in Dubai (AUD), the transaction fees associated with international ATM’s, and how to properly cook/bake. If I knew these things prior to my semester abroad, I would’ve avoided future mistakes.
In my opinion, college students place significant importance on three things: money, social status, and grade point average (GPA). As a rising senior at Morehouse College, I can honestly say that out of the three, I could least afford to have a low-grade point average. This should’ve been at the fore-front of my mind when I was enrolling into courses. But for whatever reason, I still went ahead and put minimum effort into scheduling my courses. Ultimately, this came back to hurt me because I chose my schedule without knowing the difficulty of the classes offered. If you take these factors into account, it might not be a surprise to know that I didn’t meet expectations that I gave myself before studying abroad. This alone serves as a lesson to do your due-diligence and follow up on things you’re unsure of.
The one thing that I despised most about living in a foreign country were the transaction fees for taking money out of a ATM. I hated this because I’m a broke college student. Point blank. At the time, I didn’t have additional money lying around and every little bit I spent affected my bank account. I wish I knew about ways to avoid bank fees like withdrawing from a different bank that reimburses ATM fees. If I knew this, I would’ve avoided spending money that I did not have.
Sometimes when I’m bored, I like to watch cable television just to flip through different cooking shows. The process of gathering ingredients, mixing, seasoning, and finalizing the dish fascinates me. This is ironic because I have never attempted to make anything in the kitchen. Growing up, I felt that it wasn’t an essential skill or something that I felt would benefit me in the future. Looking back, I realize that I should’ve spent time in the kitchen. During my time in Dubai, I found the importance of being able to bake/cook because I had to rely on grocery shopping. More than 80% of the groceries I bought required preparation and the use of an oven or stovetop. When I first arrived in Dubai, the only appliance I had experience using was the microwave. It’s safe to say that living in Dubai gave me something to improve upon.
I’m fortunate that I was able to study abroad. It taught me valuable lessons that will benefit me in the future. Whenever I travel in the future, I will make sure to do my research and prevent any potential mistakes. With this semester finally in the books, I learned that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
By: Christian King