My Dubai and India Study Abroad Experience

Annually, the College of Business offers a series of study abroad programs that go all around the world. From Spain and Portugal to Dubai and Thailand these programs are not only immersive in global business practices, but have a strong emphasis in ensuring that the student gets an in-depth understanding of the culture of the country. 

Winter break of my sophomore year, I was able to travel across the world to Dubai and India with the College of Business and it was nothing like any trip I had ever experienced before. Unfortunaely, they no longer offer this trip. They switched the second leg of the trip from India to Thailand, but with registration open I thought I’d share my highlights and hopefully instill enough wanderlust in you to take the leap to go abroad.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A futuristic city in an unlikely setting, Dubai stands tall in the middle of the Arabian desert. The city is in a league of it own with design and architectural advancements unseen in the western world. Everything about it screams progress and innovation.

We visited the most common tourist attractions like the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina, and Palm Jumeirah but my favorite place we visited was the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. The centre is located by the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest neighborhood in the city, and its a non-profit organization striving to promote awareness of Emirati culture. The motto of the centre “Open doors. Open minds.” invites visitors to learn about local culture, customs, and religion. We visited the center for dinner and they happily greeted us and proceeded to teach us what a traditional dinner at an Emirati household is like. We sat in a circle on the floor as we indulged traditional arabian coffee and emirati cuisine having an open conversation about what its like being part of the Islam religion and controversial topics such as terrorist attacks. Getting to understand the Quran a little better opened a lot of our eyes and I personally, found a new appreciation for the muslim way of life. Other highlights for me included visiting the desert at sundown, riding a camel, Ski World Dubai, and our day trip to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Unlike any other landmark, this mosque will completely take your breath away. Holding the title of the biggest mosque in the country, this gigantic structure has 82 domes, 22 light towers, and it’s all made out of white marble with gold-glass details. It is undoubtedly not only an architectural marvel but a work of art.

Getting to visit Dubai with the College of Business is also an amazing experience for any business major. We visited the headquarters of wildly successful companies such as Nakheel, the property developer of breakthrough developments such as Palm Jumeirah and The World Islands, Emirates Airlines, and the Dubai Financial Market

New Delhi and Agra, India

Our second leg of the trip took us from the Middle East to Asia in a matter of 4 hours. We said our goodbyes to Dubai and arrived in New Delhi which was a complete culture shock. Going from an extremely wealthy, innovative, and futuristic city to an impoverished, underdeveloped nation really helped put things into perspective. 

In India, we didn’t get to do as much as in Dubai given that the free time we had would be spent in the hotel due to safety reasons. However, FIU definitely makes up for this by booking The Taj Palace. This 5-star hotel is part of The Taj Hotel Group, a chain of luxury hotels in India, and it is a world of its own with unique dining experiences, a spa and a stunning view.

We got to visit some of the major Delhi tourist attractions during the day including the Red Fort, India Gate, and Qutub Minar. We also got to visit the Delhi office of IBM India and learn about the future of technology in business. It was so exciting to visit artisan markets and ride rickshaws but the main highlight was our trip to Agra to visit one of the seven wonders of the world; The Taj Mahal. The ivory-white marble mausoleum is a stunning structure, but it’s exterior isn’t the only note-worthy feature. The interior design is full of intricate details including flowers carved in marble, incised paintings, and precious gemstones. Definitely an experience I will never forget.

Ultimately, at least for me, the best part of India was the cuisine. Nothing compared to a warm cup of  Chai Masala early in the morning and late at night. From different types of curries and stews, to naan bread and all different kinds of rice, India took UAE out of the running for the best overall culinary experience. 

It is also important to note that everyone on the trip from the faculty members to the tour guides and 

bus drivers were extremely caring, knowledgeable and helpful. Both professors on the trip were amazing and I’ve since continued taking classes with them. The FIU College of Business really does an incredible job at creating the best experience possible and I would’ve never gotten as much out of the two locations if I would’ve planned it. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find anyone to go with you. I went by myself and ended up meeting really incredible people who made the trip an absolute blast. Make sure to check out the upcoming Dubai and Thailand International Business Trip and all the other locations available-you won’t regret it!

P.s - A special thank you to my parents for encouraging me to experience the world and helping me fund my adventures.