I have lived my entire life in the Northeast. I am 19 years old, and the first time I called anywhere but Newtown, CT home was only last year, when I started college. Even then, I only moved to another place within the Northeast- Carlisle, PA.
The only other country I have visited was Italy for a family vacation. That isn’t to say I haven’t traveled, but living in the United States means that your own home is quite vast. I have seen 26 states, including Arizona, California, Alaska, and Hawai’i- but in the global sphere that’s nothing. This was probably the most jarring comparison to our student counterparts in the UAE. It was interesting to hear people who have been able to travel to a greater number of countries and to experience a greater number of cultures. The proximity of the UAE to so many other places allows students there (if we omit every other factor such as things like travel expenses) have a greater opportunity to expand their worldview.
Another difference that stood out to me was the discrepancy in gender rights between our two regions. While gender equality is far from perfect in the United States, it was surprising to hear that even studying something like Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) can be dangerous in certain places, as the protection of such studies fluctuates. While I am aware that gender equality is not the same in every area, there is a certain detachment you have from issues that do not directly impact you. While I know that these issues exist, it’s hard to actually get my brain to realize that it’s real. Meeting a student who had to even debate whether or not it would be safe to study the subject really slapped me in the face with that reality.
My last observation of a major difference between our regional lifestyles seems insignificant, but was maybe one of the funnier things to discuss. This topic was the incredibly controversial, and incredibly insane topic of weather. When I said my ideal weather was the cold- I got a much bigger reaction than I was expecting. Personally, my ideal place to live would be the Pacific Northwest (PNW), which I guess would be astonishing to me too if I also lived so close to the Equator. To see an example of a home I would thrive in, see this link: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/51-Wildcat-Rd-Durango-CO-81303/13931299_zpid/. Something as seemingly insignificant to me as preferring the cold was such a small but cute detail of our conversation that I thought was cute mentioning.
Despite all these differences, there were still so many similarities between us! We may live in incredibly different places, but we had no problem becoming friends with one another. So much so, we were able to solve pressing world issues like how to keep aliens from destroying human kind- which by the way, all you have to do is show them Twitter and feed them pesto pasta with a chicken quesadilla.