I came into USC as a transfer student. Majoring in Middle East Studies gives me flexibility to study religion, history, language, and even politics.
Studying abroad seemed so far-fetched for me because I had never travelled by myself, let alone lived in a foreign country for months. But given the current political revolution going on in the Middle East and my experience studying Arabic, I was sold on wanting to study abroad there, especially in Egypt. Professor Azade-Ayse Rorlich was so encouraging. Her most important advice was to go with an open mind and allow myself to grow and learn from the experience.
In Egypt in fall semester 2011, I took five classes, including a colloquial Arabic class. I realized that I was able to converse with more confidence and caught on to conversation very quickly because it was the local language. One of the most interesting conversations I had was with a fellow Egyptian student who went to participate in the protests in Tahrir Square in November. He explained to me that it was crucial for his people to protest because, even though there had been previous revolutions in Egypt, this time around was going to be different, things were going to change. Those words resonated with me every time I passed by the square and witnessed people camping out and protesting day and night to change the fate of their country.
I also was fortunate enough to travel around Egypt’s various cities and visit ancient sites. During the Eid holidays I also traveled to Jordan and Turkey.
In my last semester at USC, I also am enrolled in Persian. Because of a class I took on the history of Sufism in Egypt and knowing that many influential works written by Sufi poets have been in Persian, I was very excited to learn the language.
Being a Middle East Studies major and going abroad has been the most influential experiences for me because I am so much more cognizant of issues and problems at a global level. I plan to attend law school next year and work in human rights law and development.