Inside the Life of Studying Abroad at RIT Dubai

Inside the Life of Studying Abroad at RIT Dubai

Dubai is an emirate in the United Arab Emirates. It is widely known as a modern and vibrant city and is also home to one of RIT’s global campuses.

Undergraduate programs at RIT Dubai include Computing and Information Technology, Computing Security, Electrical Engineering, Finance, Industrial Engineering, International Business, Marketing, Management, Mechanical Engineering, and Microelectronic Engineering. Along with the many degrees you can earn at RIT Dubai, there are also numerous courses non-majors can take and study abroad opportunities at this campus.

Behind the Bricks spoke with two RIT Rochester Campus students, Ndeye and MJ, about their past experiences studying abroad in Dubai.

MJ is a third-year Computer Science major.

Ndye graduated this past spring with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Dubai?

Ndeye: I have always been fascinated by the United Arab Emirates as a nation. They have a very rich history and culture. I had visited Dubai in the past with my family for a couple of days and fell in love. It has always been a goal for me to travel to Dubai, so when I heard that RIT had a campus in Dubai, I was ecstatic.

Can you give me a general description of the campus? What does it look like? What is the environment like?

Ndeye: RIT Dubai is located at the center of the Dubai Silicon Oasis. The academic facilities of RIT Dubai are all contained in one rectangular building. Inside the building, there are a total of three floors with classrooms, computer labs, engineering labs, a fitness center, an academic support center, two prayer rooms, two student lounges, and a women’s lounge. Outside of the academic building, there is a basketball court and student dorms. It’s a very small campus compared to RIT New York, however, there are much fewer students at this campus. Because there are fewer students, the school feels a lot more friendly. Students are more than willing to help you out with anything that you may need and professors have the capability of devoting more time to make sure that you fully understand the course material.

RIT Dubai is currently in the process of constructing a new, bigger campus. You can read about the construction and changes at RIT Dubai here. Phase one is expected to be completed in early 2020!

Favorite Spot to hang out in Rochester vs. Dubai?

Ndeye: My favorite spot to hang out in Rochester is the study area in the School of Health Sciences and Technology. It’s usually very quiet in there and there are outlets everywhere. It’s a great spot to sit down and chill, especially when I need to sit down and focus on work. At RIT Dubai, I loved hanging out in the women’s lounge. It’s a nice and comfortable area where I was able to relax and occasionally, take naps.

MJ: In Rochester, you can usually find me doing homework at the library or in the computer labs on the third floor of Golisano. Other than that, I’m all over the place on campus whether it’s any one of the dining locations, my room, the SLC, Clark Gymnasium, etc. In Dubai, my classes were all pretty close to one another, so I would just be in class anytime I was “at uni” (their way of saying on campus but it’s just one building, so they call it “uni”), and when I was done with classes, I would go back to my room.

Are the classes structured similarly to Rochester?

Ndeye: My favorite spot to hang out in Rochester is the study area in the School of Health Sciences and Technology. It’s usually very quiet in there and there are outlets everywhere. It’s a great spot to sit down and chill, especially when I need to sit down and focus on work. At RIT Dubai, I loved hanging out in the women’s lounge. It’s a nice and comfortable area where I was able to relax and occasionally, take naps.

MJ: In Rochester, you can usually find me doing homework at the library or in the computer labs on the third floor of Golisano. Other than that, I’m all over the place on campus whether it’s any one of the dining locations, my room, the SLC, Clark Gymnasium, etc. In Dubai, my classes were all pretty close to one another, so I would just be in class anytime I was “at uni” (their way of saying on campus but it’s just one building, so they call it “uni”), and when I was done with classes, I would go back to my room.

What does a day-to-day look like in Dubai?

MJ: Honestly, it’s pretty similar to here in America except I noticed that people here stay up so much later than most Americans. American college students are notorious for their late-night habits, but even 1 am is considered relatively late here. My friends in Dubai were consistently up until 3 or 4 am every single night whether they were doing homework or hanging out with friends or watching TV or whatever it may be. It did make some sense because Dubai is so hot during the day that you can’t do much outside especially in the summer months, so people were more active during the night when it was cooler.

What do students do off campus in their free time in Dubai?

Ndeye: The malls in Dubai are amazing! I never got bored of exploring the various malls in the area.  There are also a ton of outdoor movie nights that are typically held. There are also quite a few amusement parks and water parks in the area as well. The beach and boardwalk is also a great experience. There lots of options for things to do. It’s very hard to be bored while you’re in Dubai!

MJ: Surprisingly, free time consisted of a lot of the same things as most American students. They would do homework, watch TV, play video games, play basketball or football (soccer) outside when it wasn’t too hot (yes, that was a problem in the earlier summer months) and just hang out with friends. The only main difference I saw is that a lot of my friends absolutely loved to eat and try different foods. They were constantly at different restaurants or ordering all kinds of food much more diverse than a typical American student’s diet (especially mine).

What extracurriculars were popular on campus in Dubai? What did you become involved in?

Ndeye: Sports teams and clubs are very popular in Dubai. While I was there, I joined the Volleyball and Basketball teams. I was also involved in the robotics club on campus where we built robots out of LEGO EV3 robotics kits.

MJ: A lot of people were very involved since it’s a pretty small community. There were tons of people involved in Student Government which ran most of the fun events on campus. A lot of people also played on the university’s team sports (football/soccer, basketball, volleyball and cricket were the main ones). I personally played on the men’s volleyball team for the semester and had a blast doing so. Besides SG and sports, there were a surprising amount of clubs available and almost every student was involved in something, which was awesome to see.

As a deaf/hard of hearing student, how was your experience in Dubai? Did you face any struggles that you don’t necessarily come across at RIT’s main campus? Did you have access to the same interpreting services?

MJ: I didn’t have too many problems in Dubai other than the obvious issue of accents. Two of my teachers had very thick accents as English was not their first (or even second, for my Arabic professor) language, so at first, it was hard to understand them. However, I have that problem here at the Rochester campus too with some professors, and I always get used to them after a couple of classes which was the case in Dubai. I could have had access to the same interpreting services, but I didn’t ask for them. The only difference from the main campus was that accents were a lot more prevalent there obviously, so sometimes that was more difficult.

Summer break is a perfect time to think about your plans for the rest of your college experience. If you think studying abroad might be for you, visit the RIT Study Abroad website and take the first step in your across-the-waters adventure.

Shayna is a Graphic Design major and is pursuing a minor in Advertising and PR. Outside of writing for Behind the Bricks, Shayna binge watches Netflix and plays on the RIT Women’s Tennis Team.

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