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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    From the Sahara to the Burj Khalifa, A Study Abroad Journey that Continues


    As an undergraduate in Anthropology, I took a strong interest in Arabic and Middle Eastern culture and enrolled in the Arabic Language Institute in Fez for a summer study program in Morocco. Growing up in Florida, I did not know anyone from Morocco or the region, but the photos of the serene Sahara desert and ancient city of Fez enticed me to explore even as a freshmen at the University of Florida. This experience changed my life and it gave me the chance to mature and take on challenges that tested me physically, mentally and emotionally. I noticed beyond the difference in the practice of religion and the languages spoken but subtle differences in everyday interaction between friends and family and their ideas of life in the US. In 2010 I returned to Morocco when I was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship sponsored by the US Department of State for Arabic in Meknes, Morocco. The five months living in Meknes gave me a better, deeper perspective into the lives of Morocco and communication improved tremendously.

    However after graduating, I wanted to continue my studies and develop key business skills and training that I could combine with my international experience to apply it to a career in management. I realized the strategic importance of the economic and political developments of foreign nations and their peoples. As someone who has participated in study abroad programs in from Morocco to Cairo and Istanbul during my studies at the University of Florida, it goes to show that students from all backgrounds with different interests have opportunities with the support and resources from colleges, NGOs and government organizations to study abroad. It is about taking the initiative to go for it.

    Over the past two years, I have found my passion in the education field and I have a much stronger focus in my career and channeling my energy to take the proper steps in advancing and diversifying my talents in Higher Education with an international career. My experience upon my return as a peer study abroad advisor at UF allowed me to improve my marketing and communication interpersonal skills that have been a great preparation for my international career. Now, my life working in Admissions at International Horizons College, Dubai has given me a greater appreciation of cultural exchanges between individuals and the self discovery you encounter when you analyze and understand the differences in I understand and can anticipate the needs, fears and ease the concerns of students in their first experience abroad.

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