Friday, November 9, 2012

Same Difference

One of the humanities classes offered at AUS is the Communication Across Culture's class and students in this class needed to conduct an interview with an exchange student concerning AUS and how it is the same/different than their home school experience.  I felt vary much the celebrity when I had three different groups asking me for an interview.  After having completed one and then looking towards the two that I have next week, it has given me the opportunity to look at the differences between Wellesley and the American University if Sharjah.

One question asked me about the difference in peoples and cultures and my experience with culture shock.  I have since adjusted fairly well(I think), but there are some differences.  Here the abaya and dishdasha are commonly worn to class.  That was a difference, but I also had this impression that the abaya was worn very plainly which is clearly not the case.  I'm actually kinda' envious of some of the styles that have these sleeves which are wide from the elbow to the wrist.  Making friends and interacting with other students and professors, wasn't some big deal.  Back to clothing, but there is the feeling to dress up for class here more than I would do so at home.  Occasionally I'll where jeans and a t-shirt, but I other students are usually much more put together. 

Classes and such are structured very similarly to American style teaching, because that is the basis of the school system at AUS.  More specifically comparing to Wellesley, I feel there is a lot more stuff that just needs to get finished.  Also at Wellesley I feel that between homework or studying for exams students in the same class at least get to know a few people in class.  My classes are still relatively small, but there's no "class spirit" if there is such a thing.

The biggest difference to adjust is not the shifted schedule, where we start classes on Sunday and end on Thursday.  It is not scheduling to take exams outside of classtime.  It is probably the residential life that is so different from Wellesley.  The dorms are newer than Wellesley and hallways are very open, but no one really keeps doors open like where I lived in Freeman for the past two years.  At Wellesley you can fill your life with school, work, and then squeeze a few extracurriculars to leave you in a constant panic.  Clubs and orgs are different here.  A normal club runs about 1000 people and hosts a few events during the semester.  Like the Book Club is going to the International Book Fair in Sharjah next week.  There is a music club, but I've had trouble finding information about their activities.  The clubs here are much larger and hold less frequent activities.  On the weekends at Wellesley, almost every weekend, expect maybe at the very beginning of the semester there is something going on on campus.  So reorienting my life from extracurriculars was a big difference and probably the one I took the longest time adjusting to.

After talking about all these differences, but I'm still enjoying my time here.  Classes are heating up as we past the midpoint in the semester.  It's nice to not have a million things to be doing for clubs, as a full course load here is 5 courses.  One course may not make much of a difference until you count in the fact that there is now 3 hours more of class time and whatever other time for homework.  That was another adjustment for me.  And contrary to what I was told, just because you are an exchange student doesn't mean you will have easier courses.  I feel that courses here don't offer the same stress perhaps as my Wellesley courses, but are definitely close to par learning wise.  I especially love the Language lab we have once a week for Arabic.

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