I’m Ian Robinson, a junior at Colorado School of Mines majoring in Petroleum Engineering. In one week I’ll be getting on a plane bound for Abu Dhabi to study there for four months.

Wow! only one week left. Just writing it down makes me realize I still have a lot to get done. For the time being, I’m at Mines in Golden.

Colorado School of Mines, Golden

The idea of this trip started for me around the middle of last semester, when I was talking to my lab partner, Robert Broman. He told me he was doing a semester abroad to study PE in Abu Dhabi. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I would be accompanying him and Cliff Sanden on this amazing adventure. And it didn’t take long after finding out about the trip to decide that it was something I’d be really interested in.

What appeals to me the most about this semester in Abu Dhabi is the sense of adventure of being in a new place, along with the challenges that come with it. Growing up in Massachusetts meant most of my friends went to college up and down the East Coast, but my heart was set on petroleum engineering. And when it comes to PE, look no further than Mines. Coming to Colorado without knowing anyone or what it would be like gave me quite a shock, and a lot of amazement. Going from a forest state to the sky-piercing Rocky Mountains of Colorado was quite a wonder. I’m looking forward to that same sense of wonder and curiosity when I arrive in Abu Dhabi.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled a bit, and besides the scenery, I have always enjoyed the mix of people that I’ve met and the culture surrounding them. Having a city come out of the desert to become one of the most important metropolises in the world is fascinating to me, and I’m looking forward to interacting with the people that make up such an astounding place.

After much experience with American schooling and having been able to view drilling operations in the U.S. over field session, I’m curious to see how both are done in a different part of the world. That said, I think a common mistake among travelers is to compare where they are with where they’re from. Although I’ve read and been told about the many similarities and differences between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, what I’m looking forward to most is to be able to immerse myself completely in the UAE culture and to try to gain insight into how the average Emirati sees the world.

What I’m worried about most is the language barrier. The two very different styles of writing could make for challenging situations, and although I’ve been told that English is commonly used, I have interest in learning the language.

For the time being, I’m still in good old Golden, Colo. Seeing my friends start classes again has motivated me to make good use of the free time I have left. Besides packing and taking care of my affairs before leaving, I plan to spend most of my time enjoying the people and things that are familiar to me (and snowboarding as much as physically possible!) before embarking on what I’m sure will be the trip of a lifetime.