I skipped class to go to Dubai.
If you had asked me to do something like this last year, I would’ve looked at you like you were batsh*t insane and said “no.” School and work are important to me. I don’t usually skip lectures. I submit all my assignments on time. I don’t know if it’s a need to do well or the lack of closure I’d feel if I missed anything, but the habitual nature is there.
Last summer, my family planned a trip to Alaska (friggin’ Alaska, home of snow-capped mountains and picturesque backdrops) and I chose not to go. I was completing a summer internship and the thought of missing work horrified me. Now, I think about that decision I made and wonder if it was the right one.
Maybe that’s what led me to say “yes” to Dubai (that, and I asked about 10 of my friends for their opinions and like 8 of them told me to go). I had to miss two quizzes (which counted to approx. 3% of my grade), but Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building, world’s fastest roller coaster (well, it’s in Abu Dhabi but), the Dubai mall, etc. I thought about all the Instas I’d get to take…
Beyond traveling, spending time with my family, especially my grandmother, was important. As I grow older, there have been fewer opportunities for me to travel abroad with her. She wanted to skip the trip at the last minute, but I called her to assuage any worries, told her I wanted to see her and that it would be a great opportunity to get out of home for a bit.
And so, on the Tuesday of Week 8, I took an Uber to the airport with my Emirates ticket in my bag and said goodbye to Northwestern.
Now, I’m not going to lie, my stress about skipping school definitely kept up with me. I did work on the plane, finished my Econ problem set in my hotel, had a phone interview and video-called in three meetings I was supposed to miss (one of which I had to wake up at 3 a.m. for).
But Dubai—Dubai was amazing. Ten years ago, Dubai was all desert; today, it is a global city and business hub of the Middle East. Much of it is still under development and I’m sure it’ll look like a different place in the next decade. Its population sits at just about 2.7 million, yet it’s the most populous city in the UAE. Half of its economy comes from tourism.
One of my most memorable experiences was the desert safari. We had booked a Hummer to take us to the desert but the tour operator called to tell us the car had been in an accident. It messed up their whole schedule and our tour ended up being pushed behind two hours.
I had really wanted to take a photo in the desert with the sunset, but we missed it. I was disappointed, but too much in a rush to get a few shots in before it went completely dark that I couldn’t be for long.
When we got to the desert, we hurried into a sand-dune safe car for some dune bashing. The driver told us to hold onto the hand grips and put our seat belts on. The ride was bumpy as hell and the car tilted at such steep angles at times I thought it might flip over—it was damn fun. I worried my grandmother would get a heart attack, but she didn’t (thank God). I don’t think she liked it that much.
I got to take photos with my sister, and afterwards we rode some camels, had a barbecue dinner, and watched a belly dancer and fire breather perform. I was dead tired by the end of the night, but I loved it. This was what I had come here for (cue Calvin Harris and Rihanna).
More posts and pictures to come!