After figuring out that I wanted to study abroad in the Middle East, I came across the API program at the American University of Sharjah and I knew it was the perfect program for me. I wanted to learn more about the culture, pick up on some Arabic and have an experience that I wouldn't be able to have other than in the Middle East. Not only was the UAE and the people here welcoming, the campus and the staff were exceptional. The campus is beautiful, clean and well maintained. I felt very safe and comfortable all the time while on campus and the exchange office was always available if I ever had any questions or concerns. Classes were not any different than at home, but it was great to hear different view points on topics from the local students. The students are very welcoming. There are always events every week that are run by student clubs on campus that I enjoyed going to.
The application process for API was straight forward and the API advisers were always helpful and answered questions quickly. They offered great advice on what to expect when coming to the UAE and also offered a wonderful pre-departure packet with useful information on how to adapt to the customs here.
There were many excursions that API provided which was a great way to see other Emirates and also the nearby country, Qatar. Some were very cultural which was always a nice learning experience, but also some were fun like visiting tourist sights like Ski Dubai or going to the top of the Burj Khalifa. Overall, the excursions were always a great way to bond with the API students and the resident director.
Being a 20 year old female traveling to the Middle East, I was a bit hesitant to take the journey. API offered me great advice about how to dress and how to act. Respecting the culture is very important, therefore, you need to dress appropriately. You don't have to be covered from head to toe, but dressing modest is a must. Pants below the knees and sleeves that cover the shoulders are what I usually wore. Light sweaters and scarves are also great because the building are usually pretty cold because the air conditioner. I never felt unsafe on campus or while I was out in the cities.
If you're looking to experience a different culture and are willing to adapt to new norms, then I highly recommend studying at the American University of Sharjah with Academic Programs International. The campus is just about 20 minutes from Dubai and is accessible by taxi or buses run by the university. AUS gives you the opportunity to learn a lot about the Middle East and take a wide range of classes. You will become a better communicator and also learn how to truly manage your time and money. Overall, this particular API program is exceptionally organized and extremely beneficial to a student during their college career.