After today’s Zoom call, our International Relations class met for the first time with our exchange partners at the American University of Sharjah. In this meeting, we were broken up into smaller breakout rooms so that everyone would have time to talk further than just introductions.
The Paddlets that we created before this Zoom call were very helpful. Talking about something that we are passionate about and comfortable with was the best way to start of conversation because it eased the mood from a class Zoom call to a more friendly kind of meeting. Talking about places that hold value to us was the best icebreaker to introduce ourselves because we all understood the value that any place we call home can have. We spoke about the places we would visit as children and other significant places apart from the ones we had listed on the Padlet.
After going through our Padlets the very first fact that we had to acknowledge was the time zone difference. With our International Relations class already moved up by 3 hours, we were shocked to learn that our exchange partners’ lack of natural light was due to the fact that it was 8 p.m. for them.
This time difference factor marked only the beginning of the list of similarities and differences that we shared.
Similarly to our community here at Dickinson, the students in our class were also from a variety of different places outside of the UAE. One of the greatest things about college is the fact that you can’t assume everyone is from the surrounding area because the probability is that (just like you) everyone isn’t. When talking with our exchange partner I learned about the two other countries she called home: Egypt and Jordan.
On the topic of family, we also talked about the struggle of living away from home. This included our exchange partner telling us how much she missed her family and was sad and being away from them. This was the opposite case from the rest of us in our breakout room because we happened to be not more than 3 hours away (driving) from our hometown/family. We still agreed though with the feeling of missing smaller things like our beds and pets.
During the last fifteen minutes, we talked about the differences in the environment at our respective colleges. Our exchange partner mentioned her being a commuter student and the difficulty it presented. She explained that living outside of the main city meant traffic in the mornings and evenings. She also mentioned that where she lived was a newer area in the midst of desertlands that was only just being populated. Because of this, once the sun set, the commute home was in the dark. We, in turn, talked about the remoteness that surrounds Dickinson compared to the city that surrounds the American University of Sharjah.
Finally, we ended our conversation with the excitement of being in our own place (college) while a part of us struggled with not wanting to leave where we were from. As our Zoom call closed out, I became excited over the connections that this International Relations class was helping me make. I hope to continue to find overlapping threads in our two classes.