Student Gains International Experience through Clinton Foundation Scholarship

Third year University of Cincinnati undergraduate international affairs major Anna Schuh participated in a study abroad program in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after earning a scholarship from the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation. 

Through this scholarship, Schuh was able to spend a semester studying at the American University in Dubai. Schuh initially came across the Clinton Foundation scholarship through a Google search when she was attempting to find scholarships for studying abroad. 

“The Clinton Scholarship allowed me to study in Dubai, and it opened me up to a whole new world,” Schuh said. 

The objective of the program Schuh attended at the American University in Dubai is to help broaden the cultural and educational horizons American students have in the Arab world, with an emphasis on Dubai. 

“I would not have been able to obtain the scholarship without help from Ivan Ivanov in McMicken’s Political Science Department, Grace Thome in the Arabic department and Niven Abdel-Hamid in the NCA office,” Schuh said. 

Although she was not very familiar with the Clinton Foundation scholarship, Abdel-Hamid assisted Schuh through the entire scholarship process. Abdel-Hamid worked with Schuh from the first draft of her essay to the submission of the application. Professors Ivanov and Thome helped strengthen Schuh’s application by providing recommendation letters. 

“I would not have been able to receive the scholarship and spend a semester in Dubai without any of their help,” Schuh said. “It felt really good when I finally received my acceptance because so many people were proud and excited for me, like Professor Cadora in the Arabic department and Professor Harknett in the political science department.” 

While in Dubai, Schuh took a variety of classes with topics such as Islam, history of the modern Middle East, conflicts in the Middle East, Arabic proficiency, and microeconomics. When she was not in class, Schuh spent her time experiencing all the sites of Dubai such as the Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa, and the Mall of the Emirates. 

Additionally, Schuh spent time in other places in the UAE such as Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. She was also able to travel during the university’s break to Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand and Muscat in Oman. 

“While I was nervous about going to another country halfway across the world by myself, I grew tremendously, personally and professionally,” Schuh said. “Studying abroad, in general, is a great opportunity for anyone, and the lessons you learn in a new place are priceless, and I could not recommend the experience enough.”

Although some people may associate Dubai with unstable areas in the Middle East, Schuh compares living in Dubai to living in London or New York City.  

“Dubai is a melting pot of different cultures, religions and traditions,” Schuh said. “Over 90 percent of the population is expats who have moved to the UAE. It was interesting to see a stark contrast in cultures at the beach. You could see a Western woman in a bikini and then see a Muslim woman in an abaya a couple feet away.”

While living in Dubai and traveling to other areas in the Gulf region, Schuh experienced firsthand the kindness of the locals and the scenery of beaches and mountains found in the area.

“As long as I used common sense, the same common sense I would use living in Clifton, I was perfectly safe,” Schuh said. 

In addition to the cultural difference between Cincinnati and Dubai, Schuh adapted to a Sunday through Thursday workweek. Schuh says the experience has helped her to grow academically as she was able to adapt to a new learning environment. In addition, her time and success at the American University in Dubai demonstrate her adaptability, independence and a broad horizon of thinking. 

“Overall, my semester spent at the American University in Dubai was the best couple months of my life,” Schuh said. “I was able to spend an extended time in one of the most cosmopolitan and international up and coming cities in the world, while meeting tons of new people and taking in new experiences.”

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