MSU interior design senior Michael Bry discusses Clinton Scholarship experience in Dubai

Michael Bry, a senior in the Interior Design Program in the School of Planning, Design and Construction, was an awardee of the prestigious 2018 William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to study abroad at the American University of Dubai last fall.

Image of Michael Bry.
Michael Bry, a senior in the Interior Design Program and recipient of a 2018 Clinton Scholarship, in Dubai.

Michael Bry, a senior in the Interior Design Program in the School of Planning, Design and Construction, was one of the awardees of the prestigious 2018 William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to study abroad at the American University of Dubai last fall.

“This was my first time traveling out of the United States. Jumping straight to Dubai seemed like going from zero to 10 in one step, but the excitement outweighed any nervous feelings I had,” Bry said.

“The way of life in Dubai was very different from what I was used to, but it was a fantastic change of pace,” Bry said.

“I never thought that I would get to experience what it’s like to live outside of the United States, so having this opportunity allowed me to fully experience and appreciate the Middle East, and allowed me to form friendships across many different cultures,” he said.

“The people that live there aren’t very different from the people that live in America. I definitely fell in love with the culture and plan on going back.”

Each semester, 10 U.S. students are offered the Clinton Scholarship to strengthen their expose to Middle Eastern culture. The recipients must demonstrate exemplary academic achievement. The scholarship covers full tuition and housing for a semester.

“Receiving the Clinton scholarship was a great honor. It allowed me to experience life in a culture that I haven’t experienced in depth before. I never thought that I would get to travel abroad while attending a university, so being granted the scholarship seemed to open new doors for me,” Bry said.

Bry heard about the scholarship opportunity through Linda Nubani, PhD, assistant professor of interior design, and said he couldn’t pass up the chance to spend a semester in such an iconic city.

“My biggest educational takeaway would be my exposure to how much the Islamic religion is incorporated into the teaching and curriculum, and that the language barrier is also present for English-speaking students,” he said.

Bry said that he only took one interior design course while abroad; however, said he was inspired by the new incorporation of different materials in unique settings, as well as the extravagance of the designs.

“I would say that learning to adapt into a new culture, and learning to love it has been the most impactful on me,” he said.

“Living basically by yourself in a vastly new place for that long can change you for the better by allowing you to grow and flourish in a way that wouldn’t be possible with your familiar comforts.”

“From this trip I’ve been thinking more about what I want to do for a career. Commercial/hospitality design is still on the table, but I’m much more open to change than I was before,” Bry said.

When comparing the interior design approaches between the Middle East and the United States, Bry felt there was more attention to detail and unique designs in the Middle East.

“I think that such an extravagant and opulent place calls for a greater attention to be new and fresh,” he said.

Bry felt that the exceptional faculty of the Interior Design Program prepared him well for this trip and as a result he felt like he could “really hold my own with the design program there.”

He said that after studying in Dubai, he feels inspired to think in ways that he hasn’t before and plans to use different shapes, forms and styles in his future works.

In addition to the educational learning opportunities, Bry said he also learned more about himself, while immersed in the new culture.

“Studying abroad taught me a lot of lessons. Being self-sufficient would be a good over-all theme, as I had to rely on myself a lot in order to move about the city with no phone service or figure out my residence visa,” Bry said.

“Leaving your own culture, and getting inserted into a new one can be a lot harder than you think. I never thought that it would be easy to adjust, but it’s one thing to actually experience it first-hand.” 

“Speedbumps aside, living in the Middle East was an amazing experience. There is such an atmosphere of caring inclusivity that is exemplified by the people that live there,” Bry said.

“The food, music, art, fashion, and religion allowed me to be fully immersed in the culture of the Middle East, and it allowed me to learn more about myself.”

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