RIT Global Spotlight: Dubai

RIT Dubai was established in 2008, offering Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business and leadership, engineering, and computing, with a focus on technology. The university is located in the esteemed technology park of Dubai Silicon Oasis, offering almost unlimited exposure to the latest innovations in technology. RIT Dubai’s vision is to provide students with the tools necessary for having successful careers in today’s global society. Student Spotlight: Kailee Polimeni, RIT Dubai yours truly Kailee is a fourth year Mechanical Engineering student from Rochester, NY. She studied abroad at RIT Dubai this past fall and stayed there throughout the spring semester to complete a co-op with a nearby company in Dubai. Kailee’s original plan was to study abroad in Australia; however when this didn’t work out due to her course schedule, she applied to RIT Dubai two days before the application deadline. She hasn’t regretted a single moment of her decision! campus Education Abroad: Kailee took four courses while abroad: Circuits, Linear Algebra, Material Science, and a Material Science Lab. Her and her classmates were among the first groups to take this set of courses, as RIT Dubai had recently gone through some curriculum changes. She commends her professors for being easily accessible, creating an intimate, yet professional, relationship with students. While the whole campus is in English, students are exposed to individuals from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds, including many renowned professors and faculty. When I asked her to describe the campus, she said that most students attend class in a three-floor building in the Dubai Silicon Oasis. The first floor is dedicated to local businesses in the technology park, while the second and third floors are where undergraduate and graduate classes take place, respectively. She said that RIT Dubai pays host to about 400 students, slightly less than RIT Croatia and MUCH less than our campus here in Rochester! “He would talk to me as if I was his peer,” Kailee said, commending the current President of RIT Dubai, Yousef Al-Assaf. The President has sit-down meetings with students on a daily basis in order to address specific concerns around campus such as funding for athletics (they previously didn’t have any brushes to wipe the sand off of the basketball courts, a problem we would never have to worry about here!) and a more organized curriculum for students. One of the main priorities of RIT Dubai at the present moment is to locate to a much larger facility right down the street from their present location. This will take place once the university reaches a targeted number of full-time students. Work Abroad: Kailee had the unique experience of both studying abroad and working abroad in Dubai, all in the same year! After befriending a local student at RIT Dubai, she was offered a position to work at her friend’s father’s company, the United Arab Shipping Company. Some of her daily tasks included metalworking, client work/management, and manufacturing. She loved the hands-on work from the very start; however working in 120 degree weather certainly took some getting used to! Note: Dubai’s temperature is warm all year-round. The average temperature in January is about 65 degrees, while the average temperature in August is about 96 degrees (with highs well past 100 degrees!) burj Cultural Experience: Dubai is the largest city out of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a population of just over 2 million people. It is home to both the largest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and the largest mall in the world, The Dubai Mall. Dubai’s economy relies heavily on tourism, and for this reason, it is projected that over 15 million tourists will be accommodated by 2015. Dubai has emerged as not only a global city, but a business, sustainability, and cultural hub in the Middle East. [caption id="attachment_868" align="alignnone" width="356"]Nighttime shot of the always bustling Downtown Dubai, home to the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa! Nighttime shot of the always bustling Downtown Dubai, home to the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa![/caption]   Kailee’s first impression of Dubai? Utter chaos. The amount of individuals in the Dubai Mall alone was incredibly overwhelming, and more than she was ever used to. However, Kailee soon learned to love the hustle and bustle of the city, as well as the less hectic yet lively life of the locals. She lived 20 minutes away from the RIT Dubai campus in an arrangement similar to what you would find in a modern-day hostel. One of the things that stood out most about this living experience was that girls and guys lived on separate floors and were NOT allowed on the floors of members of the opposite sex. This type of separation is custom in Dubai, as respect for women is an extremely important aspect of their society. Kailee even expressed how safe she felt when going out at night, and never once ran into any trouble (Dubai is known to have a relatively low crime rate). In some of the more strictly Muslim, less Westernized areas of Dubai, it is customary that men and women be separated after puberty. Check out this article to read more about women’s rights in the UAE. [caption id="attachment_864" align="alignnone" width="512"]Dubai takes Hump Day to a whole other level with camel rides! Dubai takes Hump Day to a whole other level with camel rides![/caption] In Dubai, there is an endless number of activities to keep you occupied, due in part to the warm weather all year round. Some of these include horseback riding, going to water parks, going to the beach, swimming, hiking, and boating. Dubai is home to two of the largest malls in the world, The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. The Dubai Mall is home to over 1,200 shops, as well as numerous attractions including an indoor ice rink, aquarium, and an indoor theme park known as SEGA Republic. The Mall of the Emirates also includes the only indoor ski resort of the Middle East, known as SkiDubai. Thriving areas such as Downtown Dubai contain some of the most sought after nightlife in the world with endless restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment centers, and shisha bars. the palace Other Travel While Abroad: Some of Kailee’s favorite memories from her study abroad experience came from the time she spent in other Emirates within the UAE. Kailee first traveled to Bahrain for three days during Christmas break. Bahrain is a peninsula southwest of Dubai (about an hour flight) in which Kailee described as a “relaxed Dubai” with not nearly as many skyscrapers or people. In Bahrain, Kailee stayed with her friend’s Lebanese family. As it turns out, their Christmas celebration is similar to that of the Catholic-Christian celebration, except Christmas is celebrated more on Christmas Eve than the actual day. Kailee even had the chance to stay up till midnight on Christmas Eve with the family, playing various games on their porch in celebration. She said one of the most difficult ordeals of the holiday season was taking part in the Lent fasting. For this, she had to eat a strict Vegan diet for 40 days straight! Kailee also had the opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi, the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, on National Day. This day is celebrated on December 2nd each year throughout the United Arab Emirates, celebrating the day that the seven Emirates got united under the flag of the UAE. Kailee described the day as “the equivalent of our Fourth of July.” The main celebration is a massive parade in the center of the city where everyone decorates their cars with glitter, ribbons, etc. Those individuals without cars on the sidelines of the main parade take part in the celebration by covering themselves in war paint and spraying silly string and fake snow into the crowd. As National Day is a two day extravaganza, Kailee was lucky enough to take part in the festivities in both a car in the main parade as well part of the crowd. [caption id="attachment_862" align="alignnone" width="422"]Beach mosque in Dubai Beach mosque in Dubai[/caption] When asked about the various differences among the seven members of the UAE, she said that each Emirate has their own unique style of living. “Dubai is very extravagant, while some of the other Emirates have limits on the height of their buildings.” Overall, Kailee says her favorite part of her Dubai experience was the people. “They were all very welcoming. I made a ton of really close friends that feel like family to me. I would do anything for them and they would do anything for me.” the chicas freshies Advice from Kailee:
  • “Go there with an open mind and don’t be a tourist.”
  • “Don’t expect to be catered to.”
  • “Learn to appreciate the customs and culture.”
I asked Kailee one final question: Me: “Did you miss the bricks?” Kailee: “I miss the food on campus but other than that, not really. I love the small, intimate feel of the RIT Dubai campus.” Kailee credits her time in Dubai as one of the most incredible experiences of her life. For this reason, she is going back to RIT Dubai this upcoming fall to continue taking classes! coppers If you’re interested in studying abroad at RIT Dubai, please set up an appointment with a study abroad advisor by calling (585) 475-4466, emailing goabroad@rit.edu, or stopping by their office in Global Village. Written by: Frank McGinn, Social Media Manager          
Tagged: #ritdubai, #studyabroad, dubai, RIT, rit dubai, student, study abroad, travel, university