Tobias Weber, Master Sports Business and Communication student, spent his semester abroad at American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. On the SBC Blog from Abroad, he shares his experiences.
How is the student life abroad different from your day-to-day life (both in school and outside) in Germany/ Munich?
You have to differentiate between Sharjah and the Emirates. The predominant culture in Sharjah is Islamic while, for example Dubai, has a more western orientation. Generally, you can say that absolutely everything is very spread out. Activities outside of the university require planning and a lot of time. However, you can do pretty much anything you can imagine in Dubai.
The life on campus is strict but focused on community. Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited on the entire campus, which might be a no-go for many students. There are still a lot of university events which are meant to bring the different cultures together. Life in the dorm is simple, but you have everything you need. There is a common room with Bein (Arabic Sky TV) and a pool table, a gym and a laundry room, all of which can be used free of charge. There are several shops, fast food chains and restaurants on campus so that almost everything happens there.
What was your best/ worst/ funniest experience abroad?
I had the best experiences during spring break. The break flew by because of different trips to Dubai and a visit to Aquaventure, the largest water park in the world.
I was expecting what would be my worst experience from the beginning. Accidents are prone to happen with the catastrophic driving skills of the Arabs and the many Indian and Pakistani taxi drivers. It wasn’t too long before I was involved in one as well. Fortunately, it wasn’t more than a fender bender.
How were the sports options at your partner university?
The German universities could learn a thing or two from the sports programs at American University of Sharjah. At the beginning of the semester, students could register for a large variety of different sports. In the sports complex, it’s also possible to go to a five star gym, a pool or play squash for example. In addition, the university has fields for different types of sport such as football or cricket. I only used the gym and played football occasionally.
Which tips and recommendations do you have for future students at the partner university?
Get to know someone with a car! The only difficulty at American University of Sharjah are the long distances to many activities outside of the campus.
What conclusions do you draw from your semester abroad and what are you taking with you for the future?
During these four months, I have learned not to close your mind towards new things. It took some time to get used to some things here, but if you accept certain rules, you can understand a culture like this one even better.