My name is Rabiya Eshete and I am a senior majoring in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Marketing. I’ve always wanted to study abroad since my freshman year because I love to travel and learn about different places and cultures. I began taking Arabic my Sophmore year and I loved it.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in the United Arab Emirates at the American University of Sharjah in the summer of 2016. This was the best experience I have had of the Arab culture by far. It was amazing to witness the culture, food, customs, and weather of the Middle East first hand. I was able to communicate with the citizens with the Arabic I had learned and simultaneously improve it as well. Moreover, the Emirates was not what I had expected. My perception of the Middle East was what the media had fed me. However, my experience shattered my misconceptions and introduced me to a world that was safe, fun, and accepting. I made friendships and memories that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.
One memorable event I experience in the Emirates was the month of Ramadan. This is a period of 30 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset. During this month I was able to partake in this event for as long as I could endure (3 days lol). However, during these three days of fasting I experienced what marginalized people around the world go through without eating or drinking for hours or even days, I felt myself depending on God rather than the materialistic objects of the world, and most of all I learned self-control and determination. My favorite part about Ramadan was the breaking of the fast after sunset called iftar. Friends and family come together during iftar and share food and laughter.
On one of the days, I went to a cooking class taught by Hala Ayash, a skilled chef competed in Top Chef Arabia, and learned how to make a Syrian cuisine, which we later ate for iftar. I am so blessed to have had this experience and I encourage anyone to travel to the Middle East whether it be for adventure, education, or cultural experience.