Personal Essay: Home Culture

United Arab Emirates is a very multicultural country. People from all over the world live and work in UAE, which makes the country very vibrant and influenced by various cultures. However, UAE culture is based on Arabian culture, and is deeply influenced by Islam. Religion has its influence on every aspect of lifestyle, social norms and cultural beliefs of the country. There is no separation between religion and society. UAE culture values family relationships, and always puts family first. Dominant groups are mostly UAE citizens. The government is very strict with immigration and residency; therefore citizens are a privileged social group. Marginalized groups in UAE are mostly foreign workers, homosexuals, women, Muslim Shia, and illegal residents. First, marginalized working group mostly consists of people who have manual or clerical type of jobs. Second, homosexuals have no LGBT rights in UAE. Homosexuality is considered to be a serious crime, which has to be strictly punished. Third, women are being discriminated and have limited rights in UAE. All Emirati women have to have a male guardian; adultery and premarital sex is strictly punishable, etc.  Illegal residents basically have no rights, and are usually getting employed in low-paid jobs and live in horrible conditions. Also, Anti-Shi’ism exists in UAE, where Shia Muslims are being discriminated based on their religious beliefs.

Joining the GMU student body and community became quite an adventure for me. I was coming from a culture with totally different values, and the process of adjustment was not the easiest challenge I had to face in my life. Nevertheless, I met plenty of students from my country in GMU who had been in the university for over a year, and such acquaintance had helped me a lot in learning and adapting to GMU community. As an example, at first, it was very hard for me to communicate with people from other cultures, however, GMU Emirati students guided me and aided in the process of acculturation since they were already accustomed to American culture.

Also, the university has extensive international student population, and this is one of the biggest advantages of GMU. The campus is extremely diverse, and I do not feel like I am alone facing difficulties of adjusting to the new culture. There are people from various religious backgrounds, and there are plenty of Muslim students on GMU campus. At first I felt marginalized based on my religion, but as time goes by I started to understand that GMU welcomes diversity. Cultural views do change our perspective over other cultures in the community, nonetheless, when I started getting enculturated, I began to understand other people beliefs and behavior.

A lot of GMU students receive financial aid in form of various scholarships, which is similar to my case. It makes me feel privileged that I am supported by UAE government because such scholarship has a tremendous impact on my studies. To illustrate, such scholarship not only helps with tuition but also provides health insurance and salary in order for students to fully concentrate on education.

Furthermore, GMU students are privileged to have additional support from the professors and academic advisors. When I was in school in UAE, students also had a close connection with teachers. In GMU, professors pay extra attention to every student and become mentors who guide students to achieve success in their studies. You can communicate with your professors about every difficulty you are facing, and you know you will receive the feedback and help. For instance, GMU created a great Pathway program, which aids international students who need extra English language support in order to succeed in academic career. Life education is perceived through learning from school, family, and friends, which forms the cultural standpoint of things in life.

In conclusion, the United States is very multicultural, therefore, marginalized groups can no longer feel segregated and ignored by the majority. GMU campus is a really good example of diversity and multiculturalism. My culture has a strong sense of family ties and major influence of religion on the culture. On the other hand, American society is individualistic, and family ties in the US are not as strong as in UAE. There is no strong influence of a certain religion on the culture. Since there is no strong influence of a particular religion, people are more open towards various religious practices. Muslims may be negatively viewed in the US; nonetheless, US culture basically consists of people from different religious backgrounds. The need to change the negative views is through incorporating educational and job systems that include minorities and lead to common social values.

Instructions for Personal Essay

Overview:  For this assignment you will write a 1.5-2 page essay that describes your home culture with examples of your values beliefs, norms, and social practices.  You will state how your cultural beliefs influence the ways in which you view other students on our campus as well as how you feel about your own membership in the GMU community. Finally, you will explain how the strongest (dominant) values and beliefs from a culture have contributed to what is considered culturally appropriate behaviors (norms) and how members of marginalized groups are viewed and treated.


General Instructions: 

  1. This essay must be typed using Microsoft Word. If you do not have MS Word on your personal computer, use a computer in one of the campus labs.
  2. Read the formatting requirements provided on the template on the next page. Use the template! Students using computers that write from right to left (as in Arabic) must change the settings on their computers to type from left to right.  Not doing so will result in a lower grade.
  3. Read and use the guidelines below for writing your introduction, body and conclusion. Your ability to follow these guidelines will determine most of your grade.
  4. Language: Use spelling and grammar tools before you submit your final essay!  Errors in spelling and grammar should not affect reader comprehension.