Youssef Elznaty, Chemical Engineering Major
I can talk about my experience on the AIChE Study Tour to Indonesia from two perspectives: first as an organizer, and second as a student. I started the planning for this trip from scratch by doing research about Indonesia, its chemical engineering industry, its universities and the activities that can be done there. The whole process was long and not easy, but at the end of it I can say it was more than worth it. I tried to ensure that the students got the maximum benefit academically by visiting the University of Indonesia, which is the number one university in the country. We also visited the top chemical engineering corporations in the country, such as Halliburton and Unilever. In addition, the students did different activities within the trip such as white-water rafting, elephant riding, ATV rides and visiting temples to get introduced to the country’s culture. I felt very proud seeing all the planning and preparations pay off in a successful trip that everyone enjoyed and benefited from academically.
From a student’s point of view, I was able to benefit from the university and company visits as I met the Society of Petroleum Engineers in Indonesia, which helped me broaden my connections and make really good friends, too. I really enjoyed the rafting activity; we rafted across 15 kilometers of the Ayung River and I had never experienced such an activity before. Most of the students who were on the trip were my friends, but we built stronger connections with each other even more after the trip. We all shared beautiful memories in that week in both Jakarta and Bali and I would really love to travel again with my friends. I encourage any other students, whether they are first-year students, sophomores, juniors or seniors, to go on study tours as they are academically beneficial, fun and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Fatme Faour, Marketing Major
Bali: it was my dream getaway that turned into a reality. Not only was it my first time traveling [without my family] but it was also the most amazing experience of my life. One of the few things that made it so memorable were the people that were there and how well we all got along together. Even though the only person I knew on the trip was my sister, all the students on the trip made me forget that. Every day was a day that I’ll never forget.
During the tour, we made academic outings to Unilever, the University of Indonesia, and a chocolate factory. All of these spots were highly insightful. The people at Unilever shed light on their supply chain, how they treat their employees and customers, and so on. Then, at the university, we got to see the beautiful campus, its facilities and the exchange programs offered there. We also got to know the kindest students and their faculty. Moreover, the chocolate factory was both educational as well as entertaining, since they had us make and decorate our very own bars of chocolate.
Even though the trip and its locations were quite educational, we also had the chance to partake in various thrilling and adrenaline-pumping activities—which, in my opinion, are the best kinds of activities to have, particularly when going out with a group of people. Most of these activities were on my bucket list, such as holding a snake, going rafting, taking an ATV bike ride, visiting a monkey forest, going on the Bali Swing, riding elephants, and so on. My personal favorites were definitely rafting and the ATV bike rides because I got to enjoy them with such a fun group of people.
I would most definitely recommend going on a study tour to anyone who is able to travel abroad. It is unquestionably the experience of a lifetime—at least it was for me. When I look back at my time in Indonesia and Bali, the idea that I was a part of that still seems so crazy to me, especially since my decision to end up going was not only last minute, but also pure coincidence!
Zainab al-Ghareeb, Chemical Engineering Major
I can absolutely say that this trip to Indonesia is one of the best things I have ever done during my university experience so far. As a chemical engineering major, it was interesting to me to see university life at the University of Indonesia and work life in Halliburton Indonesia and how different it is from the UAE. Of course, it goes without saying that Bali was amazing. All the scenery and activities were unforgettable and beyond beautiful.
Not only was I able to benefit from the academic outings, but I also got to enjoy a week full of activities with an amazing group of people. I call this trip “the trip of first times”: I got to try rafting, ATV, and the Bali Swing for the first time. I wish I could explain how it felt during these activities. I got to experience what “living my best life” literally means. More than anything, I enjoyed the company I had; the people in the tour made it 10 times better. It is crazy how I was able to build amazing friendships and get attached to those who were on the trip in the span of one week! We shared food together, made the long bus rides so much fun, laughed together, and shed tears and got emotional saying goodbye at the end of the trip. It was one week that I will forever cherish and remember, and if I could go back and repeat it, I definitely would.
Khalisah Stevens, Project Manager at Dubai Tourism
I found the trip to Indonesia with the AIChE Student Chapter quite memorable and, for the most part, a lot of fun. It’s been 10 years since I was a student at AUS myself so it was heartening to see the student leaders give talks and presentations at the University of Indonesia and to watch the other AUS students interact with the Indonesian students. I also took the students to Unilever, and it was nice to hear their feedback on what they thought of the company and have them mix with the Society of Petroleum Engineers in Indonesia Student Chapter there, too.
I had been to Bali before, but this was my first time visiting Jakarta and Nusa Penida, both of which were great experiences but in deeply different ways. Jakarta is a densely packed and fast-moving city while Nusa Penida is beautifully hilly and surrounded by gorgeous clear water. I think Bali was definitely the highlight for everyone on the trip. I enjoyed the cooler climes in Kalimantan and the coffee-tasting at the coffee farms.
I also enjoyed seeing new friendships blossom and old friendships deepen among the students; it’s rare to witness the coming-of-age of 40 people. I also enjoyed listening to their observations on the places we saw as well as the singing and dancing that took place during the long bus rides—it helped pass the time in traffic. I was actually expecting some disagreements or arguments in the group, but in reality, the students were quite mature.
For anyone thinking of chaperoning a trip with students, I recommend that they go into it with a positive attitude and open mind. Expect the unexpected, and just go with it.
Jace Marc Fernandes, Architecture Major
As an architecture student, my history and art courses in CAAD made me very aware of the types of spaces one would encounter in a country like Italy. From Renaissance to Gothic architecture, I had seen plenty of images and thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. The biggest lesson I learned from my experience in Naples was the fact that photographs will never do justice to a place. I felt this way the moment I exited the airport. There is a perception of scale, atmosphere and depth that fills your senses beyond that of a two-dimensional image. From the massive stone walls of an ancient church to the vast ocean view from the hillside of Capri, the places we visited gave me a fresh perspective on the power of both architecture and natural landscape.
Travelling with friends is also always a fun endeavor. It gets even better when you get to make more friends as you travel along. A lot of us made new friends and connections with our fellow classmates and also had some great interactions with other travelers as well.
Professor Cristiano Luchetti, who accompanied us on the tour, was also great—I truly believe a major reason for the success of the trip was because of his organization and time management skills. He also introduced us to a local friend who was highly informative about the architectural, historical and social aspects of Naples. As a result, I can safely say we had some of the best pizza in the entire world.
Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience in Italy. The sights, the stories and the journeys were some of the greatest I’ve ever witnessed. I would without a second thought recommend all students to visit Naples if the opportunity is available.
Rachel George, Architecture Major
As an architecture student, travelling, whether abroad or within my local spheres, has always been of utmost importance to me. In my third year at CAAD, I went on a trip to Naples, Italy, with my professor and colleagues. Our tour leaders encouraged us to experience the trip as a personal growth opportunity.
We were always encouraged to explore the areas we visited on our own, after completing the official tour for any given day. Being away from the busy city of Dubai made me rethink the competitive academic culture that we are part of. Out of all the places I visited, my favorite was the island of Capri. Apart from the visual beauty of the place, it exuded a sense of calmness that I had never experienced before. As a whole, the laid-back nature of Naples was quite refreshing.
I got along with all my colleagues really well and even made quite a lot of new friends. I would highly encourage everyone to go on a study tour because it strengthens your relationship with your peers and adds new dimensions to your educational experience.
Fatima al-Mheiri, International Studies Major
Any type of conference participation, whether as a delegate or a moderator, enhances knowledge as well as research skills. The LIMUN conference allowed us to delve deeply into a topic, and to experience viewpoints very different from our own. We learned to enhance our debating, critical reasoning and speech writing skills. The trip also enabled us to create lasting and meaningful bonds with one another.
I was actually very lucky when it came to my fellow tour participants; they were all my friends. As most of the participants were from the Department of International Studies, we were already acquainted, and we all got along very well. During the trip, I also met an engineering student who to this day is one of my closest friends. Our chaperone was Dr. Johannes van Gorp from the Department of International Studies. Travelling with him was a pleasant experience as he was open to our ideas about the organization of the trip, and we felt he was very fair.
The city of London is beautiful, vibrant and full of life. My favorite trip outings included Camden Market and Covent Garden. The weather was very cold during our visit, and a snowstorm actually hit the day after we left. The temperature was at zero degrees Celsius some nights!
I would definitely recommend participating in study tours to any student who is able to apply. These types of opportunities should not be passed up, as they allow you the opportunity to increase knowledge and valuable skills, become more independent as you travel alone, experience another culture, and meet new people.
Omar Hariga, Marketing Major
First, I’d like to speak to the overall educational experience of the study tour. Although the trip was organized by the Finance Executives (FiEx) and was meant to focus on finance, the majority of my learning was not related to that field. One of the things I learned from the most was observing the culture and the routine in which people in the two big cities, Paris and Frankfurt, lived their lives. This was very interesting as this was my first ever trip to a Western country, and it gave me a perspective on how people in these countries go about their day-to-day life. For instance, Paris was very fast-moving; everyone was constantly running or jogging to where they needed to be during the weekdays, and it was the complete opposite during the weekends. Frankfurt was similar, but people seemed like they were in less of a hurry. There were also other sociocultural observations that I made, such as the individuality of people in these cities.
As for finance-related learning, our trip to the Bank of France was very interesting as we got to see one of the biggest safes in the world up-close and how a typical day would be in one of the world’s busiest banks. We were also privileged to meet with an expert in the domain of financial security, who taught us about the various levels of sophistication in the field and how much work goes into the infrastructure and maintenance of advanced systems to prevent financial fraud and other crimes.
I’d also like to share some of the things that I generally enjoyed during the trip. The first of these was the great company that I had; everyone was wonderful and fun to travel alongside. Moreover, both Paris and Frankfurt were very, very, very beautiful places to visit, full of gorgeous landscapes, historical monuments, and places of rich cultural value. I also finally got the chance to see Disneyland! Lastly, I cherish the fact that I didn’t go home empty-handed, but instead with a wonderful experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I’d honestly recommend all students who can go on a trip like this not to give it a second thought and just go, because an opportunity to travel with people that have a similar cultural background to yourself doesn’t come by every day.
Mariam Khalil, Finance Major
During the study tour, we visited the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, which was very helpful for me as I am planning to pursue a master’s degree after graduating from AUS. It was nice to see what opportunities were available for me. We also visited a lot of breathtaking historical places, such as the Palace of Versailles. However, my favorite part of the trip was just walking around the streets and observing the everyday life of the French and German people.
Furthermore, I learned several skills during this trip. The first was time management. I had to manage my time very carefully as we had a detailed schedule to stick to, and I also had personal things I wanted to do, such as shopping. In addition, I believe that going on a study tour helped me become a better decisionmaker because I not only had to manage my time, but I also had to manage my money and decide which activities would be worth doing while being there.
Overall, I would recommend the study tour experience to everyone who is able to go, because the memories I made during this trip are memories I will always look back on with a smile.
Inaara Thawer, Architecture Major
Going for the CAAD Semester in Barcelona in my fourth year of studying architecture has been one of the most enriching experiences of my education thus far. The program works as a partnership between CAAD and Enric Miralles Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT), an architecture firm based in Barcelona. All participants stay at the EMBT residences located above the company’s office spaces in the Gothic Quarter of the city, the area of the city with the most historical and cultural significance. Because of Barcelona’s rich architectural heritage, instead of simply studying the architecture from a textbook like we were used to doing at AUS, we were able to visit these spaces and experience their beauty firsthand. However, we not only got to experience Barcelona from an architectural standpoint, but we also participated in cultural festivities, tried new cuisines, visited museums and explored the city.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting other areas in Spain. We visited several beautiful cities throughout the semester, namely Figueres, Bilbao, Valencia, Madrid, Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla. In addition to seeing more amazing architecture, we also got to experience more Spanish culture, from trying authentic Valencian paella to watching traditional flamenco dances in Granada. Through these amazing experiences, I not only benefited academically, but I also made lots of memories that I will cherish. I still miss eating fresh, hot churros with chocolate during our morning classes and getting lost in the intricate streets of Barcelona. To anyone considering studying abroad, I say the experience is definitely worthwhile and enjoyable. It was one of the best decisions I made for my education.
Raj Mithani, Civil Engineering Major
To say this study tour was one of the most memorable times of my life would be an understatement. Besides giving me a lifetime of memories with my peers, the trip also enriched my knowledge about the history, art and culture of Hungary, Austria and Slovakia. My personal favorite places throughout the trip were the visits to Esztergom in Hungary and Vienna in Austria. The Esztergom Basilica specifically was a magnificent piece of architecture and engineering overlooking the Danube River. Riding on the electric scooters through the streets of downtown Vienna along with my friends was also a fun experience.
As a civil engineering student looking to join a graduate school program soon, it was fascinating to learn more about fire protection, the use of different aggregates in concrete, and the research that was undertaken by the distinguished faculty at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Lastly, travelling with my professors and mentors from our department was also a memorable experience.
Fatma Afghan, Civil Engineering Major
This trip truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We had amazing tours and activities, including a cruise on the Danube River, a walk on Castle Hill, and visits to museums displaying years of art, history and heritage. Within each city, we were able to not only have fun but also learn about the heritage and culture of the country. We were able to truly understand the history of the nation and what shaped the country we were visiting. I felt very enriched after the trip, as I returned with so much knowledge about the cities I'd visited.
Additionally, as a civil engineering student in my final year of study, I benefited greatly from the university visits conducted during our stay in Budapest, Hungary. Through these visits, I was able to expand my connections and options for graduate study and thoroughly assess the options I have for pursuing my graduate degree abroad. Additionally, the lectures presented by professors and PhD students gave us remarkable insight into the new technologies within the civil engineering field as well as the trending, most heavily-researched topics of that region.
Personally, I loved traveling with fellow university students. The experience of travelling with a group of people of the same age and with a common background as AUS students is in no way comparable to any other kind of travel experience. Although I didn't know every single one of the students prior to the trip, the pleasure of getting to know each and every one of them and watching us grow into a small community able to share the memory of the trip together has got to be one of my favorite things about this journey. I encourage everyone to embark on such an adventure at least once in their lifetime, and I do hope everyone has the great fortune of doing so on a study tour like I did.
Ahmed Eladl, Chemical Engineering Major
The AIChE Study Tour to Singapore was one of the best and most memorable experiences I had at AUS. Along with 33 other students from different majors across campus, I got to travel overseas, experience a new culture, and get a hands-on experience all while having fun and building new friendships. We visited the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, two of the top universities in Asia, and got to see their world-famous membrane technology research labs. We also visited the Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, which was the first time for most of us in a refinery or industrial plant. We spent a day in Universal Studios, experienced the magical Gardens by the Bay, went on a night safari, visited Sentosa Island, and had the popular local street food. We did all kinds of things in just six days in this trip, which made it a very, very special one.
Study tours are meant to get students out of their comfort zone, show them how people in some other part of the world do things, and even strengthen their relationships with their mates to build a strong network. I’m still in the WhatsApp group we created for this trip, and although most of us have graduated, we still hang out every now and then. The AUS experience would not be complete without at least one study tour with your class, and I am glad I got to have mine.
Aishwarya Siram, Architecture Major
The trip to London was one aspect of our Spring 2019 architectural studio curriculum. Participants included graduating seniors, and the trip was a nice way to end the ride that was our five-year Bachelor of Architecture program. The idea of visiting London in January during sub-zero temperatures seemed daunting at first, but this concern was quickly eclipsed by the infectious excitement that often characterizes planning a trip to a foreign landscape with your peers.
The entire trip and its itinerary were planned around the idea of exploring urban conditions that differed from our own here in the UAE. London— one of the most cosmopolitan, urban and diverse cities in the world—offered plenty of insight into considerations that inform the design of human habitation on a macro scale. While there were some unexpected similarities, the differences between the urban landscapes of the UAE and London were what jumped out to us the most. The London trip and subsequent conversations, among ourselves and with our professor, helped me to formalize my approach to exploring and answering design questions in preparation for my design studio.
Aside from the academic aspect of the trip, I enjoyed a great, leisurely and informative time during our stay in London. As almost all participants were from the same cohort, we were all quite familiar with one another, yet the trip allowed us to get to know everyone in a context outside of CAAD. I’d encourage students to take advantage of opportunities like these as much as possible. Overall, the trip came as a great highlight to mark the end of my journey at AUS and created extremely fond memories that will endure for a while to come.
Noor Kouli, Chemical Engineering Major
My study tour experiences with the IEEE Student Chapter over these past two years have been academically and personally enriching. On our recent trip to Italy, we visited four cities: Rome, Pisa, Florence and Bologna. Despite being part of the same country, each of these cities demonstrated different aspects of vibrant culture and history.
In almost every city, we toured a university campus and its electrical engineering labs. What amazed me was how well-preserved and well-organized each university was even though they were very old and had a substantial number of students to administer. For instance, the University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world; it has been in continuous operation since 1088. In addition, we visited the very famous Pagani Factory where we were exposed to the hands-on process of the making of each Pagani car. The factory and showroom tours were very interesting, especially if one has a passion or enthusiasm for cars.
The sightseeing part of the trip was fascinating because we got to visit very important historical places. Some include the Colosseum, Vatican City and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. On top of visiting the attractions, we also enjoyed the authentic and delicious Italian cuisine. In this experience, I learned a lot about the people of Italy, their culture and their lifestyle. Moreover, I met new people from the group of students on the trip and opened my mind up to continuously trying new things. I highly encourage students to take any opportunity they can to leave their comfort zone and travel!