In my most recent International Relations class, we went on a zoom with another class from the United Arab Emirates. During this zoom I was able to talk with two people from a whole different part of the world who have experienced some similar and some wildly different encounters in their lives. I personally am from West Chester, Pennsylvania and had never really thought about the difference about life in the US vs other parts of the world. I had thought my life had been very ordinary and typical, but to someone who is from Dubai that isn't necessarily true at all. Without realizing it, my life has been far different from them and we've had to deal with drastically different situations. One great example that the 2 people from Dubai brought up was how stress free they were about leaving something like a bag or computer in the mall to hold their seat at a table or bench. I could never imagine leaving any of my belongings to hold my spot anywhere in a public setting as there are always people that will take advantage of someone's belongings being left unguarded. This is a perfect example of how wildly different the cultures are between where I'm from, and where they're from. Another example of this is how they talked about they really weren't afraid of walking around alone, even at night. Despite living in a big city with over 3 million people, they really weren't all that scared of walking around at night. Compare that to where I'm from and parts of the city I won't walk in at night as they have much higher crime rates and I don't feel safe walking through there. This again speaks to the cultural differences between that of Dubai and many big and medium sized cities in the USA. Another cultural difference was the food, both fast food and cultural food. Of the girls from the United Arab Emirates had actually visited California and said that all the fast food she had was terrible compared to that of Dubai. the biggest difference being McDonald's as she said the quality in general was much better in Dubai, but McDonald's especially had worse quality. One of the biggest reasons for that is likely how much more profit oriented businesses and food chains are in America. They know people will continue buying their products even if the quality drops. This allows them to use corn and seed oils, which has been proven to be terrible for human's health, instead of olive oil, which is much healthier. they also have different menu items in Dubai's McDonald's compared to America's McDonald's. These include the McArabia Chicken that has halal grilled chicken patties and grilled vegetables on a flatbread. This item is likely to allow for the people of Dubai to be appealed to go to a fast food chain that is known for its predominantly American fast food items. Although, one difference that was mentioned was Starbucks. Starbucks is very popular in Dubai, but Starbucks in the USA is also very different than that of Dubai. In the USA, there are many different seasonal items, different pumps, flavorings and all that stuff that people like in their coffee. In Dubai, they have far less of these things, much less options and drink choices, and far fewer locations.
West Chester University
A picture of the campus that I grew up a quarter mile away from
There were also some major environmental differences between that of where I was from and grew up compared to that of Dubai. One big one was the difference in homelessness. In Dubai there is about 5,000 homeless people compared to that of Philadelphia, which is a city 30 minutes from where I grew up, with half the population but about 6,000 homeless people. In Philadelphia, many of the corners and bridges have are filled with homeless people with signs and carts trying to survive. While in Dubai it is really just a rarer thing to see a homeless person. Another difference would be the weather. On our zoom, me and my classmate, Etsu, complained about how it was 94 degrees outside. However, in Dubai it is over 100 degrees fahrenheit regularly and they have to be cautious with going outside as it is nearly lethally hot. I found this pretty interesting as if it was over 100 degrees out where I'm from, schools might caution people to even step outside and might even cancel school entirely.
What I learned
The biggest thing I learned was how different life experiences can be in first world countries. While obviously someone's life in America will be wildly different to that of someone in a 3rd world country, I didn't Imagine life could be that much safer in another country. The biggest takeaway I will try to include in my life is trying look into other cultures. I will immerse myself in other countries news and take an interest in other cultures living conditions, economics, government and powers/alliances. I hope this class can encourage and educate me further on this subject. This zoom also encouraged me to go to Dubai, but maybe not during the summer.