During our conversation last week with the students from the American University of Sharjah, we discussed our home towns and how they compared to where we live now. I am from Brewster New York, which is outside of New York City. Among the other Dickinson students that I spoke with, were individuals from here in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. From the American University of Sharjah, I spoke with students who were from Dubai, India, and Sharjah.
We discussed several factors about our experiences transitioning from the location of our hometowns to the location of our respective schools.
The student from Sharjah, noted that they obviously didn’t have a ton of differences in culture and environment, other than the culture difference of being on a college campus. The student from Dubai mentioned that while Sharjah was similar to Dubai in being a desert city, there were some mild cultural differences. The student from India said that the biggest difference for them was the climate, as their location in India was a mountainous region and received yearly snowfall, in contrast to the desert of Sharjah.
The Dickinson students had similar experiences- there wasn’t a ton of culture or climate difference from any of the regions where we were from. The student from Pennsylvania had a similar experience to that of the student from Sharjah- growing up in a location very close to where they went to school, the biggest difference for them was simply being on a college campus and experiencing the cultural difference of living amongst your peers. The students from both Maryland and New Jersey had very similar experiences to myself. None of us are from large cities, but we all grew up near enough to urban areas that we had experiences in those metropolitan locations.
I did notice one big difference between myself and the other Dickinson students, and the students from the American University of Sharjah. It seemed to me as though the students from Sharjah identified much more with Sharjah than the Dickinson students seemed to identify with Carlisle. While we all remain tethered to our hometowns, it seemed to me as though the students from Sharjah had stronger emotional and cultural connections to Sharjah, whereas myself and the other Dickinson students seemed to consider more that Dickinson is our current home, and Carlisle is just the area around it. In thinking about this, I believe this could be due in part to the fact that Carlisle is a very small town, and Sharjah is a large city. While Dickinson’s campus is very much open and integrated with the town of Carlisle, the fact that Carlisle is such a small town without many people means that you can very much tell who is a Dickinson student and who is a resident of Carlisle. Whereas, with Sharjah being such a large city, I am sure that there is a lot more overlap between people who live in Sharjah and people who simply attend school there.
Overall the conversation between my peers from Dickinson and the students from Sharjah was very interesting and I really enjoyed hearing about the differences and similarities that we all share, and I look forward to our continued collaboration.