I officially leave for Abu Dhabi on August 16th, which is in just under a week!
I made this blog to document my experiences in Abu Dhabi for friends back home, and I'm planning to update it weekly (probably on Saturdays, we'll see).
I'm going to be flying from San Francisco to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi. I'm really excited to be meeting up with two other NYUAD students at the Amsterdam airport who happened to be on the same connecting flight. The time difference is currently 11 hours, so I'm going to be totally dead from jet lag, but it's definitely worth it!
I've been getting to know my one roommate and two suitemates (from Taiwan, Massachusetts, and the U.A.E.) over Facebook and Skype. I've started packing. I'm taking two suitcases (mostly full of clothes, haha) and my school backpack as a carry-on. I've shopped for some last-minute things, received my entry permit, paid the remaining fees that aren't part of my scholarship, and finalized all my travel plans. I've been saying last goodbyes to people, and last week I went out to lunch with my wonderful AP Biology teacher from high school who played a major role in getting me to this point.
To all the parents who have told me they would "never let their child go to Abu Dhabi" and all the students my age who asked "Is it safe there?" - I dare you to come visit me.
Abu Dhabi is a very beautiful city with gorgeous beaches and a fascinating melting pot of cultures. While there is always danger and injustice in the world and in government no matter where you go, the western media often focuses on nothing but the most violent parts of the Middle East, and often misrepresents the origins and motives of these conflicts. Unfortunately, the media's portrayal of the Middle East causes a lot of fear-based misconceptions and stereotypes. I can't wait to spend the next four years learning about more about different cultures and learning to bridge these conflicts. I love that I can get an education in a place where I can meet students from all over the world.
Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions about the country or about my studies- I'd rather see curiosity than closed-minded prejudice or fear. Thanks to the vast majority of my friends who have been so supportive, excited, and understanding.