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TCNJ junior wins scholarship for study abroad at the American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

EWING, NJ… Arabian race horses, seeing the tallest building in the world, and learning about culture, history, and economics in a global financial center all await junior Matthew Carlson next semester.

That is because the economics major and Arabic minor has been awarded a prestigious full tuition and housing scholarship to the American University in Dubai (AUD) for spring 2012 by the William J. Clinton Foundation.

“Dubai offers the best of both worlds for me as a student studying economics and Arabic,” said Carlson. “I will be able to continue my business education in an international financial center, and I will be able to improve my Arabic skills by experiencing the Gulf culture firsthand.”

Carlson has been studying Arabic since his freshman year, taking classes every semester. Currently finishing Arabic 251, an accelerated intermediate level course taught by professors Lillian Farhat and Lara al-Muhaisen, Carlson said that he can now hold a conversation in Arabic on most topics, even though his vocabulary is limited.

“(Farhat and al-Muhaisen) are both very good professors, and I’ve learned a lot from them,” he said. “Not just the language itself, but also the cultural aspects… I have to do assignments where I have to read Internet articles in Arabic so my vocabulary has improved.”

According to Carlson, who is currently interested in a career in finance or working for the government, he found the scholarship when he was researching online, and when he learned he had won, was “humbled and thankful for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation and the American University in Dubai.”

“I’ve always wanted to travel abroad so I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” said Carlson, who has never been abroad before.

According to the AUD’s official website, the university “seeks to further the goals of the Clinton Presidential Foundation to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.”

Awards are only offered to American students who are currently enrolled at four-year U.S. colleges/universities and demonstrate “exemplary academic achievement.” A maximum of ten students are chosen for the scholarship each semester, according to the website.

Carlson, who said he wanted to study Arabic because “the region plays such an important role in shaping global politics,” has engaged in TCNJ academic activities relating to his interests in both finance and international policy.

He participated this year on the College’s team for The College Federal Reserve Challenge, an annual team competition that tests undergraduate students on their knowledge of the current macroeconomic situation in the country. As a tribute to his international interests, he also participated on the College’s University of Pennsylvania Model UN Conference team last year – representing of all places, the United Arab Emirates.

On the AUD website, former president Bill Clinton expresses his “love” of AUD and the scholarship given in his name, and the multicultural composition of its over 2,600 students, who typically represent over 80 nationalities.

At AUD, Carlson said he will be taking an advanced Arabic course and an international trade and finance course in addition to several liberal learning classes.

A few of the many experiences that he is looking forward to during his next semester include experiencing the city’s sites, including the tallest building in the world (the 2,723 foot-tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai), as well as possibly traveling outside of the United Arab Emirates to Oman to see the historical and natural sites as a “complement to the modernized city of Dubai.”

He is also hoping to see some familiar faces at the Dubai’s Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse, which opened last year.

“I’m looking forward to possibly seeing some family members during the semester who have expressed interest in coming,” said Carlson. “My family is into horse racing, so a big draw for them is the Dubai racetrack, which sports some of the top Arabian racehorses in the world.”