Suhair Elsheikh, International Relations Major
Outgoing to George Washington University, USA, in the spring and fall
As an international relations student, I had one of the best, most memorable learning experiences of my life in DC. I was able to volunteer at the World Bank and IMF Headquarters and meet officials from all over the world. I attended international events and conventions and networked with top professionals from my field. Moreover, I was able to have an amazing experience with the wonderful people I met and the exciting trips I made to places like New York, California and Georgia.
I would describe my study abroad experience as being a life-changing opportunity that I would not trade for anything. It was the most enriching experience that allowed me to truly discover myself. It allowed me to become the best version of myself and to become more independent than I have ever been. I have gained more self-confidence and self-reliance, and I can definitely and gladly say the whole experience has made me grow as a person.
I urge every student to go for a study abroad program. I cannot easily express how my study abroad experience was the best experience of my life. Studying abroad will definitely change you and challenge you to become the best version of yourself. The whole experience will give you a great opportunity to discover yourself while immersing yourself in a whole new enriching cultural experience. Moreover, the different teaching and learning system will enhance your perspective and allow you take on a different understanding of your studies.
Omar Khattab, Mechanical Engineering Major
Outgoing to Northern Arizona University, USA, in the fall
Northern Arizona University is a research-focused university; therefore, it really enriched my insight on how practical work can make a huge difference in learning things. It showed me a different way of testing that can be more beneficial to students. As an exchange student, I wanted to have a full 360-degree experience and so I became a member of the band supporting the sports teams and participating in their events. Witnessing how important university teams are for everyone was definitely one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had.
Being an exchange student at NAU doesn’t mean that you will only meet American friends – you actually meet people from all over the world, experience different cultures and make close friends from every continent. I believe that is because of the strong exchange program community there. One of the unforgettable experiences I was lucky to have was being adopted by an American family who volunteered to take me and some exchange students around, invite us over to their traditional American house and witness how they really live. That was truly a once in a lifetime experience, which is why I would like to send so many thanks to IXO for giving me such an opportunity, and I encourage students to pursue [studying abroad].
Seham Naser, Finance Major
Outgoing to Maastricht University, the Netherlands, in the spring
“Compared to AUS, I found the courses at Maastricht University more challenging as Maastricht’s teaching method is based on Problem Based Learning (PBL) where students self-study, present the chapters, and solve cases and assignments. Moreover, tutors who are Ph.D. students are there to moderate the class and address any questions. The university’s curriculum and teaching methods took time for me to adapt to, but as a result, I gained different insights and methods of learning.
My expectations were met when I went abroad as I experienced the typical Dutch life, riding my bike everywhere. I lived in an area where everything is within walking distance. Maastricht is very international and many exchange students go there. As Maastricht is located in the center of the Netherlands, I got to travel to several countries. Also, I got to experience two widely celebrated events in the Netherlands - The Carnival and King’s Day. The exchange office there arranged cultural and social trips, which I attended as well. Moreover, I was part of a non-profit organization that taught refugees how to speak English.
I think it’s important to study abroad to experience different learning systems and how to learn differently. You will also gain a wider perspective of the different culture around you, which enables you to form your own point of view of that certain culture rather than base it on what you hear. Of course, you get to know different people and make lifelong friends. You can also learn a new language or at least the basics. Most importantly, you get to gain life experience as you might act differently in situations, be more independent, and adventurous.”
Noshin Khan, Architecture Major
Outgoing to University of North Carolina, USA, in the fall
Going from the city life of Dubai to the country side with lush green grass, tall trees and the mountains of North Carolina, I spent my study abroad semester in the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. As an architecture student, I made sure to expose myself to the local architecture practices of the USA. To this end, I took part in a competition called US Solar Decathlon and enrolled in my first design-built studio. The experience was enlightening and very satisfying. Hard work paid off in the end when we built an entire house for a low-income family and won prestigious awards. During that time, I made many friends, learned a lot about different cultures and figured out and exceeded my comfort zone. The simple things in life and Southern hospitality of North Carolina made it all feel like home. It was truly a breath of fresh air.
Mohamed Bassam Saleh, Civil Engineering Major
Outgoing to Louisiana State University, USA, in the spring
LSU was my first and only choice. I took four major electives and one free elective there. The courses I took were just like the courses in AUS, so I was not too worried about having different academic systems.
Going into studying abroad, honestly, I had mixed expectations. I was excited to travel, meet new people and live abroad. However, there was always that "what if" in the back of my mind. The idea of leaving the place I’ve been living in my whole life and starting somewhere completely new was a bit overwhelming. However, I believe that feeling of mystery and uncertainty was what gave studying abroad that feeling of adventure. At the end of the day my experience definitely exceeded my expectations. I never imagined making as many friends, visiting so many different places and growing this much in just one semester.
I believe it’s important to study abroad because it helps you grow as a person, widens your perspective, and teaches you to break the prejudice within you. If you are able to study abroad, then I say go for it! If I could sum up this entire experience in just one sentence, I would say: studying abroad is not just a new chapter in your life, but it is the beginning of a whole new life. Studying abroad is just chapter one of this new life.
Tia Bendaly, International Relations Major
Outgoing to University of Central Lancashire, England, in the spring
The courses I took at the University of Central Lancashire were 2 to 3 hours long, which was a lot compared to AUS. I was worried I’d struggle with that aspect of it. However, the longer classes (3 hours) revolved around group discussions, and we were given two breaks, so time went by quite quickly. When it comes to content, I was able to explore some courses that aren’t offered at AUS, such as forensic science and British politics. I really enjoyed that.
[During my time abroad,] I met up with friends who were based in the UK for their studies, visited London a couple of times, went to the beach in Brighton when it got warmer, and visited a lot of museums and tried to explore as much as I could.
[Initially,] I honestly thought I would not like living in Preston, as it was a smaller city and I was aiming for London (UCLan was my fourth choice). However, it turned out to be a really nice experience, and I discovered that I actually prefer small cities to big ones like London because you end up knowing everyone around you and it feels safe and welcoming.
I think having a study abroad experience is an advantage when looking for internships and jobs because it shows employers that you are able to adapt to changing circumstances, are independent and self-reliant and so on. My experience also solidified the fact that I want to continue my studies in the UK. I plan on interning in London and going to grad school at the University of Law.
Mai Gouda, Marketing Major
Outgoing to University of Vermont and Boston College, USA, in the spring and fall
My experience at the University of Vermont was awesome. It’s a completely different environment from AUS, which makes the experience very special. Vermont has such breathtaking nature and it’s definitely the perfect place for anyone who’s into outdoor activities. People at UVM are incredibly sweet and friendly. The highlight of this experience was definitely me watching it snow for the first time ever. I think my experience at UVM helped me become a more flexible person and more capable of adapting to different types of environments.
Boston College holds a very special place in my heart. I had such an amazing time there. Everything was just perfect, starting from the brilliant professors to the activities offered on campus. There is always, always something to do on campus. I totally loved the sports life there and the atmosphere of the games. BC is full of inspiring and ambitious people and I believe this kind of environment has an exceptional effect on your character.
UVM and BC are completely different from each other. I’d say UVM is for those who appreciate nature and enjoy quiet places, whereas Boston is a bustling city where there are various things going on and there’s always an event happening somewhere. It’s an inspiring city that I can see myself living in someday. But one thing UVM and BC have in common is that they give you the chance to form valuable friendships and relationships with people from all over the world.
To students who are considering going abroad, just go for it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will cherish forever.
Sirine Dhaouadi, Electrical Engineering Major
Outgoing to Nanzan University, Japan, in the fall
It was not actually my first time visiting Nanzan University, so I knew the campus and the area prior to going there. However, being there on my own for the first time felt very surreal, knowing that there is so much out there in a country many people dream of going to and here I am, getting the chance to live that dream.
The Japanese people are kind of known for minding their own business and not getting involved with strangers on the street so I was expecting a lot of that in the university. However, the university students were very different from that norm. They really liked exchange students and wanted to get to know them a lot and just showed a huge interest in us foreign students. I was honestly not expecting to make as many friends as I did and get so close to them and travel around with them. It was my first time travelling with people other than my family and I never thought I would actually get to do that until then.
The exchange program at Nanzan University was very active with the students. There were regular field trips to popular and famous areas in and around Nagoya. One of the trips I joined was to the Toyota Factory. I thought that was the most interesting trip I had been on in a while. They gave us a tour inside the factory where we got to see how the cars are manufactured and the different stages the process goes through. We also got to see the Just-in-Time production system which Toyota is famous for implementing. During some weekends or holidays, I got to travel around to other cities such as Osaka and Kyoto, and I even made a trip to South Korea. I also took a trip on my own to Fujinomiya City.
I think it’s important to study abroad to expand our knowledge to more than just the culture we are familiar with, and also to meet very different people coming from different countries who are also studying abroad. My study abroad experience showed me more of who I am and gave me an idea of what it is that I want. That was all because of having to experience different things that were out of my comfort zone.
Zakeya Alsada, Bachelor of Economics
Fulbright Scholar at Boston College, USA, 2017–2018
I always wanted to pursue my master’s degree one day, and after having more than two years of experience, I felt that it was the right time to continue my studies. Boston is a knowledge hub and home to many reputable schools. This has given me the opportunity to live in a community full of intellectual and goal-oriented people. I would say the highlight of my stay was the people I met.
Also, being the big city that it is, there were many conferences in Boston that I was fortunate to attend. For instance, during my final semester, I was able to have a post-conference poster presentation session held by the National Association for Business Economics. This was not only a chance to showcase my work, but also to build connections and get to know more people in the field.
Studying abroad is a very enriching experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is given the opportunity. Our culture is very family based, and this makes it more challenging to live alone and build our own beliefs and perceptions. I think that by studying abroad I was able to broaden my views, get to meet people from all over the world, and hence change all the stereotypical impressions I had about other cultures. Most importantly, I was able to get to know myself and my capabilities.
Living abroad is not easy, but the rewards that come with the experience are well worth it. So, if you are considering it, I’d say go for it without hesitating!