Sunday, September 22, 2013

Environmentally Friendly ?

My brief time in Dubai has brought to light something I had previously misunderstood. Upon my arrival to Dubai I found myself enthralled by the concept of an environmentally conscious nation. I knew that Dubai was well known for its energy efficiency and support for renewable systems. What I didn't realize was that this is for the most part to advance and even further, business in Dubai. It appears as though there environmental efforts are more deeply rooted in the hopes of continuing the success of Dubai financially. Renewable energy is Dubai's up and coming replacement for their oil industry that is quickly diminishing. It makes sense that Dubai would not want to fall behind as a leading economic and technologically advanced nation. However, their environmental efforts when it comes to basic everyday things, are not as up to date. Since landing in Dubai I have seen approximately 5 recycle bins and it seems that the ones they do have are hardly used. To this outsiders' eye, Dubai's go-green attitude is somewhat a strategic business tactic, with less emphasis on the negative impacts that we are having on our planet.   

Courses

I am studying Mechanical Engineering Technology, a major that RIT Dubai does not offer. So for me, matching up classes was a little difficult. However, my roommate ended up easing into her classes quite comfortably. She studies regular Mechanical Engineering. The two most common majors here at RIT Dubai are Mechanical Engineering and Business.
Currently I am taking Statistics 1, General Chemistry for engineers, Engineering Design Tools, and Strength of materials. I recommend around 4 or 5 classes, but don't advise any more than that. This is because you are going to want to enjoy your time here, and not just spend all day, everyday studying. Especially considering that there is a very relaxed tone among the students when it comes to school work. This is very different from RIT in New York.  Everyone really likes to hang out and have a good time, so you'll want to make sure that you have time for fun as well.
Classes too are more relaxed in a sense than RIT New York. The work load is fairly similar, yet the demand to get things done quickly is not the teachers' first priority. I will say though, that I could be a bit biased, for when I was at RIT New York we were on a quarter system. This year both RIT Dubai and New York have switched to a semester system which makes for a big difference in that aspect.
As be aware that although RIT Dubai is more equipped than I thought, they do not offer all the same resources as the huge campus in New York. The school is only one building which is composed of 3 floors.
In case you're curious, the mechanical lab has a lathe, mill, CNC machine, tensile testing equipment, compression testing, as well as automatic saws, and power drills. Keep in mind that classes are much smaller so the ratio of machine to student as bad as it sounds.
Being on time should not be an issue, for the walks to class take no longer than a couple of seconds. If you rely on the bus for transportation to and from the dorms than make sure to be prompt. They won't wait for you.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shuttle Bus

The "dorms", which is really a hotel called Etisalat Academy is located approximately 25 to 30 minutes away from the Campus. Because of this, Etisalat provides a shuttle service between the dorms and campus. The shuttle runs 4 times a day. So my recommendation is to memorize the schedule for the shuttle ASAP. Today is the second day that I have forgotten about the shuttle and wound up having to call a taxi because I missed the only conveniently timed shuttle. It cost me 50 UAD just to get to campus.

Advice: Pay attention to the shuttle times!



Monday, September 9, 2013

Kitties

Even though I could probably write a whole essay about the cats here, I wont. I'll make it brief. If you like cats you'll be in heaven because there are tons of stray cats around the dorms (which if you don't know, is really a hotel called Etisalat Academy). If you don't like cats, however, be prepared to be attacked by their cuddles when going in and out of the Residence. I make it a priority to feed them at least every other night. To be honest I smuggle extra meat out of the cafeteria and feed them at night. Shhhhh...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dorm Room Pictures





What To Pack?!

Packing really wont be as bad as you think it will. I have a few general pieces of advice that may help you..

Clothing
Make sure to pack fairly conservative clothing. This includes long pants thin long-sleeved shirts, tee-shirts, and my personal favorite long skirts. Many people are going to tell you that you have to be covered all the time or you'll be thrown in jail. Let me be the first to tell you this is completely not true. It is okay to wear shorts and tank tops in Dubai. Personally, I wouldn't wear short shorts or skimpy tanks, mainly because of the unwanted attention you will attract. However, if there is one day that I want to wear shorts I make sure to pair it with a long sleeved or loose fitting shirt. It will become easier to decipher what is appropriate once you get here, so try to pack a good variety of clothing. I do recommend that you don't bring too many items of clothing, for there is limited space in the dorms/hotel here in Dubai. I may have made that mistake and now my clothes are spilling out all over the room. My smart roommate only brought one checked bag. I don't know how she did it, but I can assure you it'll be a much easier unpacking job. There is also an extremely nice pool here at the dorms, which I will talk about later, so make sure to bring your bathing suits! A big no-no here is see through clothing, so try not to wear any type of shirt that would show through to your bra, etc. What I was surprised to find out though, was that sheer long dresses, as long as they have a slip under them, are completely okay. Another good idea is to bring as many cardigans as possible. If you want to wear tank tops they're perfect, also they come in handy when transitioning from the extreme heat outside to the frigged air conditioning inside. I know that I went out and went shopping before I came, and I recommend you do the same. There is a gym here, and whether or not you plan on using it, it's probably a good idea to bring sneakers just in case. 

If you are a boy, you literally have nothing to worry about, you can wear exactly the same things you do at home. The only advice I have for you is no bro-tank tops.Also you'll definitely want to avoid wearing any type of clothing with offensive or inappropriate sayings or graphics.

Other Odds and Ends...
You'll want to bring towels, maybe two.
Also they provide clean sheets and a thin comforter, however the comforter kind of sucks, so I recommend you bring a nice full sized blanket. Nothing too thick though.
You can easily purchase adapters here in Dubai, and personally I believe it to be easier. Less to pack. Also many of their outlets are sort of universal and can fit many different types of plugs, including US ones.
I would pack a reusable water bottle; otherwise you'll be spending all your money on water bottles. No one really drinks from the tap here. I am still not sure if it is because it dirty or just a cultural thing. Either way, there are usually water coolers around the dorms and on campus. Trust me its much easier to fill up your water bottle. Plus you'll be saving the environment which is always a plus!
Also if you have nice things that you want to hang up I recommend bringing hangers, for Etisalat Academy only supplies you with 6 or so hangers. And to me it seems silly to spend unnecessary money on hangers if you have some at home.
Certain small, non liquid, toiletries. 
Coffee Mug/Travel Mug
Keep in mind that checked bags have to be under a certain weight. Also most airlines allow you to check your first bag free, but if you fly Emirates Airlines you get two free checked bags.
It might be a good idea to pack a duffel bag so that at the end of your trip you are not going out and buying extra suit cases to transport all your recently acquired items home.
Make sure to make copies of your Visa and Passports. I made a couple copies. One for me and one to leave at home with my family. Just in case.
I would pack your "cant live without" school supplies. For example, I brought a few empty notebooks and my pencil case.
Any medications should be packed away in your checked baggage.
Jewerly.
I think that purchasing things like tooth paste and shampoos are best done after you arrive in Dubai. Toiletries are fairly cheap and its a much easier process than lugging bottles of liquid from another country.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pictures 9/7/13


Dubai Mall

So this is starting to get a little out of order. I was trying to make this very sequential, however, I am so behind on my blogging that that's not going to happen. I want to dedicate this next post to my adventures today. I went with my roommate and two friends of ours to the Dubai Mall for the first time.
First off, if you don't already know Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world. And huge it is. If you can image a store, Dubai Mall has it. Today we walked around for 9 hours, and we still didn't quite make it to every section. One of the great things about Dubai Mall is that it connects to the Dubai Metro. The only issue is the walk seems to take hours, but at least you are walking in the cool comfort of air conditioning. The average temperature this time of year is around 105 Fahrenheit. If that doesn't sound hot enough then keep in mind that it is very humid here and the temperature feels more like 115! This is not to discourage you though, for I am an avid complainer about extreme temperatures. So if I can get used to it in as little as two weeks anyone can.
The most exciting part of our trip was most likely the Dubai Mall Underwater Zoo, or better recognized as an aquarium. It is located right smack in the middle of the mall. Pictures will be posted soon. I will try not to give too much away, because truly I feel that in order to enjoy it as much as I did you need to experience the mall aquarium first hand. Basically the aquarium is two stories and contains everything from clown fish to sharks. They also have a reptile exhibit, which my roommate and I enjoyed thoroughly. The highlight of the excursion was definitely the underwater tunnel. There we were able to view the massive fish tank for underneath the fish. It was truly an amazing sight. And yes, I did take a selfie with a shark.
The next part of our trip was viewing the Fountain show which the mall puts on every half an hour. Outside of the mall is a gigantic fountain that lights up at light. Every thirty minutes music starts blaring and a beautiful water show is put on for all to see. The sight is quite amazing, especially once you notice that the Burj Khafila is towering over you. The Burj Khalifa is the worlds tallest building. It is absolutely breathtaking. The building stands at 584 meters, which is approx. 1,916 feet. The building is intricately designed to appear as a flower when seen from an aerial view. The show was great and its pretty safe to say that Dubai Mall is just as magnificent as it seems.
   

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pictures 9/5/13





Pre-Departure

Wow, where do I ever start? There are so many things that one has to do in order to prepare for a study abroad trip, especially if they are going through RIT. One of the first things to do is to figure out the cost of the study abroad fee. Which at first might look intimidating, however, don't forget that it is simply added to your tuition cost, so scholarships and financial aid apply. Basically how I calculated it was to add up the cost of tuition plus the study abroad fee and subtract the amount of aid/scholarship money awarded. RIT will not give you official numbers for costs until later in the summer. So if you are at all concerned about money, make sure you calculate the costs on your own! The second most important thing is to look at airline ticket costs, for they are not included in the RIT study abroad fee. My ticket to Dubai was approximately $1,500 round trip. Obviously this number depends on how much in advance you purchase your ticket, as well as when during the year you plan on traveling. I wasn't actually able to purchase my ticket until last minute, due to the fact that RIT Dubai had not yet finalized when the official first day of school would commence. So be cautious about buying your ticket too far in advance, for you could get stuck with extra fees for coming in early. I personally recommend Emirates Airline. The service was great, I got 3 meals, lunch, dinner, and then breakfast. Also if you fly out of Washington DC (which I did) the flight can be direct and take about 13hours, which really isn't too bad. Once you have decided whether or not you can afford the trip the next step would be to do a lot of research on Dubai, or wherever you are planning on studying. There are so many things to see that are distinctly unique to Dubai! Most of which I plan to visit and will write about later on. I also thought it would be a good idea to apply for a credit card before I left, mainly to be use in case of emergencies. If you already have a credit card then you are one step ahead! The only bank that is in the US that Dubai has is City Bank. But keep in mind any card can be used, just be sure to ask about international fees. Debit card(s) are also a great idea. As of currently, and not expected to change, $1 is equivalent to 3.67 Dirham. There are ATMs every where so don't worry about not being able to get cash. Most places except cards, but many are cash. Anyways, back to the pre-departure... At the beginning of summer the school will ask you to apply for your Visa. This is very important. Make sure you don't miss the deadline! I believe mine had to be handed in by mid July. They require you to fill out a few forms that you should get from the school before summer starts. Also you will need a photo of your face (passport like) with a white background for your Visa picture. Your Visa is super important, so make sure you have it with you on the plane and especially when you go through customs. Also once you get to Dubai you will need 4 passport size photographs. They must be on glossy paper. This is for other legal documents that you will receive once you get to Dubai. I recommend getting these pictures before you leave, just to make things a little easier. My most valuable piece of advice is to talk to others who have studied abroad, as well as utilize the study abroad staff as much as possible. I know that I bothered my poor counselors so many times with all sorts of random questions. So don't be shy! and make sure to ask as many questions as you want. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though there are many steps to prepare for studying overseas, it's rare that anyone is ever 100% efficient, so try not to stress too hard. Things have a way of working out in the end.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Decision

It is December of 2012. And I am beginning to realize just how confined and isolated I felt being cooped up in the cold and dark atmosphere of Rochester, New York. I was extremely lonely, and beginning to feel as though RIT was not the place I was meant to spend my next five years. The day then came that a simple presentation was given by a few classmates of mine on the booming technological hub for innovation, also known as Dubai. My mind was blown upon learning of such things as the man made islands, and the tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa). What really stuck out at me was the city located just outside of Dubai called Masdar City. A city entirely fueled by natural, renewable energy. Currently I am studying Mechanical Engineering Technology and am entering my second year at RIT. I have always had a passion for traveling. When I learned that I could seize the opportunity of studying abroad in Dubai I knew I had to. The more information I discovered on Dubai the more my excitement escalated, so much so that I finally decided mid-second quarter that I had to go.