International Connections


Hannah Harnack

Major: Event Management


Minor/option/emphasis: Public Relations

Year: Senior
Hometown, State: Le Mars, IA

Type of experience: Faculty-Led Program
Experience: Exploring Hospitality and Event Management in the Arabic World
Experience website: http://isuabroad.iastate.edu/?go=CHSUAE
Destination: Dubai, UAE

Overall experience..
My time spent in Dubai was one of the most memorable experiences, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to study hospitality and tourism with the College of Human Sciences and the AESHM department. From everything I saw, to the food I ate and the people I met along the way - I will never forget my 11 days abroad in the UAE. I came back with a newly opened mind and a new perspective on my future career in the Event and Hospitality industry!

I learned...
I learned about this opportunity while I was looking at different study abroad programs offered for the Event Management Program. My time was running out to study abroad, so the short program to Dubai fit perfectly into my schedule.

An impact to my life...
Dubai was a life-changing place. Not only did I learn a lot about the booming hospitality and tourism industry there, but I also learned a lot about myself. Before leaving, I had ruled out hotels and wedding planning out of my future career choices. After a few very important and inspirational meetings while in Dubai, my opinion has changed on those ideas. I also made some pretty amazing friendships with the other girls on the trips, and I look forward to keeping up with them for years to come. In regards to long-term career goals, I am prepared for the journey ahead. I had never traveled internationally before this trip, so I am very excited to see where my next adventure takes me. I'm hoping to find a job internationally after graduation

My most valuable learning experience...
The most valuable experience came from our meeting with Hannah Matthews, a wedding planner in Dubai. While the events she plans are absolutely stunning, and she provided us with great information about traditional Arabic weddings, the most inspiring part of meeting her was learning her story of how she got to where she is today. She doesn't have a degree in planning and she had a long story to tell about all of the jobs she's held in her 26 years of life. I was inspired because her success story wasn't an easy straight line. Hannah worked hard and never let any bump in the road stop her from moving forward and landing her dream job.

I will never forget...
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi was my absolute favorite place we visited while in the UAE. The mosque was such giant, beautiful structure of white marble and gold art. I felt at complete peace while we were there as I was awe-struck at the beauty of it all. As the sun set in behind the building, it only became prettier. We sat in the back of the women's prayer room and observed the evening prayer, and visited the grave of Sheik Zayed himself. If I get the chance to travel again to Dubai, I will make this a definite priority to go back.

A surprising discovery...
I didn't expect for people to be so welcoming while we were there, but the people we met with at our different appointments were so nice and hospitable. They were open to answer any questions we had and were not quick to judge at any moment. Dubai is 70% expatriates, meaning that most of the people there are not actually from Dubai. We were always surrounded by different people of all walks of life, and I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the diversity.

Advice for others...
GO! Dubai has opened the door for me, and I am already planning other international trips to places on my bucket list. Experiencing new people, places, foods, ideas, etc. is something you should never take for granted. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, please do it. Go wherever your heart desires. I never would have imagined that I would travel to Dubai, but I did. My life has been forever changed because of it!

Submit your experience!

International Connections home