What I love about Abu Dhabi
Studying abroad in Abu Dhabi is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve really come to love this city and have felt closer to my potential here than anywhere before. Why I think I’ve done so well and enjoyed it so fully is because I’ve popped all of the typical bubbles of a student’s experience here. The school can seem small, the city- fake, the culture- nonexistent, and things to do- minor. But those are ALL wrong.
One of my favorite things about Abu Dhabi is how incredibly easy it is to network and make connections. The city is transient, no one stays here for too long, few people put down their roots, and statements like “I’ve known him forever” are only said through stories, and this makes for a fascinating environment where people form relationships (personally and in business) much faster. Add to that the simple and true phrase, “I’m just an interested student,” and you have every door open to you. Not only have I attained my most prestigious internships while here, but I also have made connections with wonderful and influential people just by being interested.
A second think I’ve loved about my study abroad here is the amazing people. I talk to EVERYONE and I learn so much. I ask my cab drivers questions, I debate with students, inquire with professors, and take advice from my superiors at work. I do this everywhere I study or travel, but there is something special about this city. There are so many fascinating stories in Abu Dhabi about every corner of the world, all parts of the mind, the heart, and more. People live such disparate existences here in Abu Dhabi and come from an even larger variety – and it makes for deep, deep well of knowledge.
The third thing I love about Abu Dhabi is how small it feels. Even though it is a city of around a million people, there isn’t an overload of things for a student to see, places to eat, nightlife venues, etc- but there is still more than enough. Some of my favorites are Spinney’s for groceries, Ray’s Bar in Etihad Towers for the weekends, the Corniche for walking or running and Chamas to eat until your stomach explodes or maybe one of the obscure Lebanese, Saudi, or Ethiopian restaurants with no name. The coolest part is that so many things still happen in Abu Dhabi- there are endless amounts of concerts, more and more academic discussions, sporting events come around, and so on. It is wonderfully full of activity but doesn’t make you feel like you have to try a new place every single night.
Lastly, I love the travel opportunities from Abu Dhabi. Not only does the school fund various class trips at no additional cost to the students- I’ve had fieldtrips to Jordan and Oman-, but there are also so many fascinating and cheap locations for weekend or longer trips: Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Armenia, etc. It is almost literally the center of this hemisphere and that makes for a great jumping off point.
Overall, I love Abu Dhabi and I’ve loved my experience here. I’m even thinking seriously about trying to find a job here when I graduate in December. For anyone thinking about coming I say that I hugely recommend it, unless you are looking for an intense party scene. My most important tip is to look really deep into the cultures present here: the Emirati, ex-pat, migrant, tourist, student, and all those in between, or such intriguing and overlapping presences here. The school may be small, but you can get out, the culture may seem shallow but is more complex than anything I’ve ever witnessed, and the city is full of activity and surprises.
All you have to do is pop those bubbles.