Say 'yes' to adventure
Updated: May 8, 2019
Last week, I had an incredible opportunity present itself to me that I almost talked myself out of. I've always been someone who wanted to see the world but I always thought that the opportunity would come later when I felt like I had earned it, or rather when I felt like I was finished working on myself. Realistically, no one can predict when adventure will come knocking; It's just something you have to grab onto while you can and hope for the best. This past week I was reminded of that when I found myself booking a ticket to join my dad on vacation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Quick history/geography lesson for those who don't know where the UAE is located. It's in the middle east sitting along the Persian Gulf. The country is made up of seven Islamic states (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain) that came together to form the United Arab Emirates on December 2, 1971.
I will be the first to admit that I had a lot of preconceived notions about what life might be like for those living in a middle eastern country. While some of the facts of visiting an Islamic state may currently be true, the UAE has their own culture which differs greatly from its Saudi Arabian neighbors. If I had to sum up the most surprising things I learned into three points, it would be:
1. 90% of the people speak English and EVERYTHING is written in Arabic and English (in some cases even German), so communication and transit around the city are not difficult at all. Their public transit systems are so efficient and clean!
2. The culture is not as strict as I read it was. Dubai specifically, caters to tourists and other cultures. Yes, you will see a lot of Muslim culture BUT you will also see churches and temples. I thought dressing would be an issue but its not. Women and men who choose to wear the traditional garb are free to do so but those who choose not to are also free to make that choice. Obviously, booty shorts and a bralette are a not recommended but you're free to wear your sports bras and bikinis while on the beach. I just wore jeans and a t-shirt for the days I was there and it was fine.
3. The government really takes care of their own. Every citizen has benefits to reap in regards to healthcare, large sums of government gifted money, housing, education and even debt management. The country makes a lot of money but a good portion of the money is invested back into its people.
This experience has been life changing. To travel to the other side of the world and participate in a culture that I was unfamiliar with has allowed me to live out one of my biggest dreams because I love meeting new people and getting to know different cultures.
On my first day in the UAE I wandered the streets of old Dubai, attempting to make my way to the creek-side. On that walk I had a chance to see local architecture, art and history. Near the end of the day, we wandered through the souk, and the scent of frankincense and night blooming jasmine filled the air. Tucked away, was a restaurant situated directly on Dubai Creek.
I sat there watching the desert sun set, making the Arabian Sea look like patines of bright gold reflecting in the waters surface, while the salty breeze cooled the heat on my skin. At some point I thought "I can't believe I almost missed this". I tried to process the fact that I spent the entire day having the kind of adventure I only once dreamt of doing sometime in the future. The kind of adventure I told myself I couldn't have...and I almost missed it by saying 'no' twice when my dad asked me if I wanted to come along. I almost missed that gorgeous sunset simply because I didn't believe in myself. To anyone reading this, don't EVER tell yourself you can't do something. Telling someone you love to believe in themselves is easy, but having the courage to believe in yourself is something else entirely. I promise that if you seize every opportunity and adventure that comes your way, you'll never regret having that opportunity to learn and grow.
Until the next adventure,