Four days ago, when I would look out the window of my amazing hotel room, I would see the Mall of Emirates and when driving I would see the Burj Khalifa. Now when looking out my window in Miami, I see a street and a palm tree and when driving I see a Publix. I miss Dubai so much and my family can tell because that’s all I talked about on Christmas. On the bright side, I’m no longer scared of elevators and I’ve been sleeping for days trying to get my sleeping schedule to match the time change. I’m already saving up money so I could visit Dubai again, although I’m dreading being on a plane for more than 5 hours. The plane ride from Amsterdam to Atlanta was terrifying and I might have developed a fear of flying. The delay at the Atlanta airport was also not the most ideal way to end this amazing trip, but the trip itself made up for it.
My favorite presentation in Dubai was the Nakheel presentation. Although I remember being sleepy because I wasn’t used to the time change, they amazed me with their accomplishments and future plans. We also got to see the model of the islands which was really amazing. It was even more amazing when we got to go visit the Palm Island on the metro rail and see in real life what they accomplished.
Nakheel has built so much in so little time and has created an amazing reputation. The first thing that I learned about Dubai, 3 years ago, was how it had created man made islands in the shape of a palm. It was incredible to me to hear of such a thing and even more incredible to meet the people behind the creation of it. The presenter talked about how Dubai has the perfect weather for man made islands which is perfect because they could build as many islands as they want without the threat of a tsunami. It’s amazing how Nakheel can build an island in four years and meanwhile Miami is still trying to build Skyrise, which is supposed to be the tallest building in Miami, but its been 2 years and nobody has agreed on the use of the tower. It’s incredible how all the people of Dubai come together to help build more and have Dubai become one of the world’s most popular cities.
I don’t even know where to begin when talking about the Desert Safari and dinner show – it was just all kinds of crazy. I had no idea what to expect when going to the desert, but listening to loud music on the way and having a funny driver was enough to let me know it would be a fun night. On the way there we were super picky about the music we listened to and kept telling the shot gun passenger to change the music. I find it funny how after we started driving crazily through the dunes we didn’t even notice the music that was playing. It was the craziest experience I have ever had. I wish I could replay going through the dunes and I wish I wouldn’t have filmed so much and actually enjoyed all of it.
On the way there I also got to see the falcon show and learned how smart the species is and how much they helped the people of Dubai when they would hunt. After crazy driving and great memories of the dunes, we got to the dinner show and the first thing I did was get in the line to ride the camel. I can now say I have ridden a camel and I’ve got the pictures to prove it. The rest of the night was followed by great food and relaxing under the stars.
We also got to relax with the hookahs and for 10 minutes we were able to star gaze. You never really get to see that many stars in Miami and being in the calm desert in total darkness while watching the stars was incredible. Towards the end of the night we all went to get as many hennas as we could, seeing as they were free. I may regret that part because I have been asked many times at work if the drawings on my hands are actual tattoos. That day will forever stay as one of the best days of my life.
I have created so many great memories on this trip and I have met so many amazing people. It’s only been four days and I already have separation anxiety from our Dubai mom (our tour guide). Going back to my normal life and my boring job is even more depressing when knowing that just a week ago I was having the time of my life with unforgettable people and seeing unforgettable places. Now all I have are pictures of the amazing places of Dubai, which I hope to visit again.
This study abroad trip has influenced my outlook on people and hospitality and how culture influences both. I saw and did so much in just a span of 10 days. I hope to go on many more study abroad programs and experience more places, but I know that Dubai was unique. One of my biggest hopes is to be in Dubai for the 2020 World Expo with some of the students who went on this trip and visit our Dubai mom.