In my unending quest to see it all, I hastily booked a trip to Dubai to join a friend on a weeklong excursion to the United Arab Emirates. 4 days in Dubai plus 1 day in Abu Dhabi was bound to leave me awestruck and exhausted. However, I felt ill equipped to handle the challenges abroad.
It started the first night when I couldn’t find the hostel. It took me well over an hour to locate because the street signs were too confusing, despite a printed map and directions.
The following day, 2 different ATM machines rejected my debit cards from different banks. It’s amazing how humbled and weak I felt without access to cash.
On day 3, feeling broken and irritated at not bringing more money, I took a local bus to Kite Beach with my friend. It was here that I had one of the most memorable experiences on the trip. As soon as I looked up, I realized magic was happening around me. The call to prayer sounded from a nearby mosque while I listened from the ocean. Here was a culture in the throws of change that still incorporated faith into daily life. How lucky was I to witness!
After this experience, I noticed that everywhere I went I was greeted with a warm smile and friendly hello. I felt safer in this glitzy city across the world than at home in NYC.
With construction booming all over town (2 more palm islands in development, the building of a new indoor ski resort, plus the opening of art museums and a Hunger Games theme park), I will likely return in the next few years. When I do, I hope to leave as refreshed and inspired as the first time.