International Connections

Alanis Morales Cuadrado

Major: Hospitality Management

; Event Management

Year: Sophomore
Hometown, State: Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Type of experience: Faculty-led study abroad program
Experience: Exploring Hospitality and Event Management in the Arabic World
Experience website:
Destination: Dubai, UAE

Overall experience..
I spent 12 days in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), mostly in Dubai and only two days in the capital, Abu Dhabi. We had a great variety of activities planned from cultural to main tourist attractions, all focused on us learning about the hospitality and event industry in the UAE. With this intention we went to their most famous tourist attractions like a market commonly known as The Souks, the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, the Grand Mosque and a Desert Safari. Additionally, we went to authentic Middle Eastern restaurants and a rooftop restaurant with complete view of the Burj Khalifa and the largest fountain show, talk about great dinner entertainment. Lastly, my favorite part of the trip was the presentations with various companies. We had a complete tour of the Hyatt Regency, their 360-degree rotating restaurant and lunch included in their five star looking employee cafeteria. The Nakheel property and development company gave us a presentation of their main properties Palm Jumeirah and The World. This was probably the most exciting since they gave us a surprise boat tour of Palm Jumeirah with a stop in front of The Atlantis Resort.

I learned...
As a transfer student I decided I was going to take it slow in my first semester here in ISU to get settled in. That meant I was just going to take my classes, maybe join a club, but then I learned about this program through an email my advisor, Dawn Fiihr, send the week before classes started explaining the trip and that they were extending the application deadline. Without thinking about it much, other than how great this experience would be to learn more about the industry I am choosing to be a part of, I applied.

An impact to my life...
Studying in Dubai, even though it was for a short period, was an amazing and unforgettable experience, which I made so many new friendships. I learned so much about their culture and how it strongly it influences their hospitality and event industry. I think their mission and vision to be a world-class city is demonstrated by their rapid growth and construction rates. It is truly a hospitality student's dream to be visiting the biggest and most luxurious hotels. Visiting all these amazing places just made me realize how this industry is very diverse and open to different cultures.

My most valuable learning experience...
My most valuable experience was the presentation with the World Expo 2020 Dubai team. We had a full disclosure of how this massive event would impact greatly the economy and hospitality industry. The event is counting with at least 25 million visitors during their six month period. It was amazing to learn their strategies to create an exceptional event and how it is causing a huge boost in hotel and tourist attraction development. I think it was a memorable experience because we were able to be witness the planning and construction, only a desert when we visited the site, of a historic event.

Advice for others...
My advice to students is to take a chance to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity by not overthinking. I followed my gut and applied to this program without paying too much attention of my anxiousness of traveling without family and being in a completely different culture that I did not even fully understand at the time I applied. I knew I needed to learn more about other countries that were not the ones I grew knowing about like the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. I can honestly say I ended the trip the best memories and knowledge of a country that has so many misconceptions in the US.

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