Growing up in a small town, I was always subject to others who were identical to me. Going to a primarily white institution did little to change this. However, discussing this with students from the University of Sharjah, they seemed to have very different experiences. The American University of Sharjah is one of the most racially diverse universities in existence. People from South Asia to Northern Europe are involved in the university, and the community as a whole- there are no discrepancies of any minority group. My group also discussed how there is mutual respect between everyone in the cities, both Sharjah and neighboring places, like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

With a large and diverse population comes a large urban sphere. Sharjah is only around twenty-five minutes from Dubai- the biggest city in the UAE. However, I have little to no experience in this. Coming from a small town, the nearest cities were hours away, and the closest buildings were almost always gas stations. As my group members emphasized, malls are an incredibly big thing in Sharjah, and neighboring places. For me, it’s interesting how we can build our daily lives so differently based on where we live and the opportunities given to us.

My hometown

“Aerial Photography Map of Alburtis, PA Pennsylvania.” n.d. Accessed February 1, 2023.


Where 2/5 students in my group attend University

“Ariel View of SHARJAH –” n.d. Accessed February 1, 2023.

However, students from Sharjah are not the only ones with unique experiences. One member of my group lived in Lima, Peru for a major duration of her life, and has lived in the United States for six months. She describes differences in attitude- that people are considerably nicer here and talk much more. However, the last member of our group had a different experience, with Southern people being much more hospital than Northern people. I have little-to-no experience in the South, so while I cannot speak on this myself, it’s interesting how the two accounts differ.

Lima, Peru

“Aerial Drone View of Lima City. Capital and Main City of Peru. With…” n.d. IStock.

‌Lima is also a big city, the biggest in Peru. Again, this contrasts my experiences living in a small town. The final member of my group grew up in a multitude of different places but considers a town outside Nashville, Tennessee her home. She talks fondly of her community, the music festivals, and the food. While her home is considerably smaller than the others previously discussed she still is in a much bigger area than me. She, and my other group members, seem to have a stronger sense of community with people from their hometown, while I do not.

Nashville, Tennessee

“Over Nashville (Aerial Shots).” n.d. SkyscraperCity Forum. Accessed February 2, 2023.

‌With my group, I not only learned where they came from, but how much it influenced them. Their location impacted the language is spoken, their education, their associations, and their values. While it is not end-all-be-all, like in my case, it is apparent that where you live and where you grow up can affect you in daily life from your interactions to your thought process.


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