Jasmine, Master in Management student on expatriation to Dubai
Can you introduce yourself?
Jasmine: I am currently in my third year at EM Normandie. I did the first years of my studies on the Paris campus. I joined the Lama'ttitude association during my first year at EM Normandie, which is originally from Le Havre. With other students, we set up a branch of this association in Paris. It was a great experience.
Where did you go on expatriation?
Jasmine: I arrived in Dubai at the end of August. I am at Ajman University which is one of EM Normandie's partner universities. Ajman is also an emirate in the United Arab Emirates located about an hour from Dubai.
Since the beginning, we have had all our courses in distance learning. Only the exams could be done face-to-face. I stayed in Dubai as I am taking my courses remotely, otherwise I would have had to move to Ajman to avoid an hour's commute.
Was this your first choice?
Jasmine: I wanted to go far away, to get out of Europe. I think the Middle East is a dynamic area. It is a crossroads for world trade. Also, I want to go into the luxury business later on and I think Dubai is a good place.
The last reason is more personal. My mum has spent part of her career working in the Middle East, so I've always had an attraction to the place.
What courses are you taking in Dubai?
Jasmine: Because it's a university, we were able to choose our courses. We have five subjects. I chose international marketing, management of small business (ideal if you want to start a business), advertising and promotion, production and operation and organisational behaviour.
All my classes are in English. I would have liked to take Arabic as well but I couldn't.
What does your job at Shizen involve?
Jasmine: It's a sport truck company. I've known the founder since I was little. He heard that I was going to Dubai when the company was going to be at the Expo. So he asked me to become the brand coordinator in Dubai. I immediately accepted his offer.
Shizen's concept is to replace the gym with a fully equipped truck. It's the sports field that comes to you! We provide all the equipment needed to practice any sport.
The company relies on several levers. First of all, an educational lever because it goes to the universities. Then, the health lever because it aims to fight against sedentary behaviour at work. There is also a social aspect because it is aimed at all audiences. And finally, it is an eco-responsible concept because it consumes little energy unlike a gym.
Several students from EM Normandie are doing work experience at Shizen. The founder, Benoît Campargue, has also spoken several times in class. He is a former judoka and also Teddy Riner's coach. He led him to victory in London in 2012. He is a real enthusiast and I find his concept very well thought out.
Can this concept be exported elsewhere than Dubai?
Jasmine: There are already three trucks in France that tour the major cities, meeting young people in housing estates, in schools...
To set up the concept in Dubai, we had to rent a truck on-site to avoid having to bring it here. This concept works well here, so it should be possible to duplicate it in other territories.
How is your expatriation going?
Jasmine: I came with four other students from EM Normandie. It went well for us. You have to know that the locals keep to themselves a lot. You can talk to them quite easily but they don't include you in their groups.
We joined the Facebook groups of the French communities there. It's a very cosmopolitan city with nearly 80% of the inhabitants being expatriates. We were able to meet French people of our age who are also expatriates, studying or doing an internship. It's great to be able to meet and do activities together.
We met people of many nationalities, including at the gym and in our daily activities. In Dubai, people will easily open their doors and they do it willingly. It is very nice.
Where do you live in Dubai?
Jasmine: I've moved several times. Initially, I was in a shared apartment in Dubai Marina. For four people, we took a flat with two bedrooms. We paid between 600 and 650 euros each. This may sound expensive, but we were in a new and well-equipped residence compared to others who had older accommodations.
Then we moved to find cheaper accommodation in groups of two flatmates. I was paired with a friend. We found a studio in the same building. Recently I moved to another tower at the other end of the Marina to be with my boyfriend.
How is the food?
Jasmine: We eat everything. You can find all the cuisines of the world, with some expensive and some cheap. In any case, I have never been disappointed with the quality.
Are there any bars in Dubai?
Jasmine: Yes, there are a lot of bars and even nightclubs. However, if you're not 21, you can't go into these establishments.
Are there any must-see places?
Jasmine: There are a lot of things to do there. In Dubai, you have to go and see the Burj Khalifa, the Burj al-Arab, the Marina... My favourite place is Bluewaters Island, which is a beautiful, quiet place with the Ferris wheel. There are also all the beaches and their beach clubs.
If you have the opportunity to travel around the country, it's great because there are all kinds of landscapes: mountains, sea, desert.... Abu Dhabi is also worth a visit.
Have you made any progress in English?
Jasmine: Honestly, it's not the ideal place if you want to improve your English because you end up with a lot of foreigners who don't speak English perfectly. And I also meet a lot of French people there.
What is the weather like in Dubai?
Jasmine: When I arrived in Dubai, it was 40°C with a humidity level of 80%, which is almost unbearable. Nobody stays outside in this weather.
Since the beginning of October, it has cooled down, it's much nicer. It's around 26°C during the day and 22°C in the evening in December! It's great!
Tell us about the Expo?
Jasmine: It's an event that runs until the end of March. A lot of effort has gone into setting it up, considering that 4 years ago there was only sand here.
Would you recommend this expatriation?
Jasmine: Absolutely, I'm delighted to be here. I'm going back to France for the holidays but I plan to come back to Dubai after my studies.
What advice would you give to a student who wants to go to Dubai?
Jasmine: It's an individual experience first, so make the most of it. Expatriation is a great way to open your mind.