x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Hesitant to leave UAE luxury for university living

From laundry to cooking to, perish the thought, shared bathrooms, I'm nervous about the responsibilities that come with life beyond my family's home.

Teenagers from the UAE are a breed apart.

Yes, we're exposed to a delightfully varied melting pot of cultures and have the opportunity to try a huge range of recreational activities, from skydiving to skiing, to learning the oud.

That's got to eventually turn us into well-rounded, cosmopolitan citizens, right? Not so, I'm afraid, as many of us have become accustomed to an overly decadent lifestyle.

When the time comes to fly the nest, we have absolutely no idea how that scary place known as the "real world" actually operates. Hand me some fresh laundry and an iron and I would probably burn holes through my jeans. In fact, I don't think I've ever actually been near an ironing stand (as I think they're known).

Meanwhile, my cooking skills extend to a mugs of tea, instant noodles and cornflakes with milk.

We had Shirt Signing Day at our school recently, where the students of the outgoing class, Year 13, all hugged each other and wrote cutesy messages such as: "I'll miss you sooo much! XOXO" on each others' school shirts.

They'll be off to university after the summer holidays, and may never see each other again, so the day was invariably brimming with sniffling reminiscences. Most of my class, Year 12, prefer not to think too much about the fact that a year from now, we'll be the ones turning on the waterworks.

When I was younger I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton's St Clare's series. I remember being immensely jealous of the O'Sullivan twins, Pat and Isabel, as they escaped to boarding school for giant sleepover parties with their friends.

But now, doing the same thing at university while worrying about settling in, food, laundry, internships and your new-found independence, is a daunting prospect.

Harry, an acquaintance, after finishing school in Dubai, set off for college in the UK last year. In the lobby of the university accommodation, Harry turned to the dean of the college, who was showing them around, and asked her to summon a bellboy to carry his suitcases up the flight of stairs. He was taken aback when he was informed that this was student housing, not the Ritz.

He was even more shocked when he found out that he would actually have to share a bathroom with 10 other dormitory mates. Actually, when Harry told me this, I was stunned to hear that I may have to share a bathroom with even a single other person.

I'm also fretting about having to manage my spending. Being completely hopeless when it comes to money, I have decided that now is the time to start becoming well versed in financial matters, and I have even skimmed through the business pages of this newspaper.

Interest waning, I gave up. So, I've decided, there's only one solution. When that fateful day arrives and I'm packed off to higher education, I may have to ask my folks to fix up a chauffeured limousine to ferry me to classes and a penthouse suite in a five-star hotel to live in.