Comparing Life in Different Locations in Africa & the Middle East

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  • 0:00 Two Regions, Hundreds…
  • 0:30 Istanbul, Turkey
  • 1:25 Wadi Rum, Jordan
  • 2:15 Mogadishu, Somalia
  • 3:20 Gaborone, Botswana
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Africa and the Middle East have over 1.4 billion people, so daily life across these regions is really diverse. This lesson takes a look at four locations to demonstrate just how much diversity those regions display.

Two Regions, Hundreds of Lifestyles

While researching opportunities to be an exchange student, you find an organization that offers the chance to study in Africa and the Middle East. Looking for something different than the chance to study in Europe or South America, you take a look at the organization's website, imagining little more than oil rigs and safaris when you think of those two places. However, as you soon find out, it's hard to condense the lives of more than 1.4 billion people into such a small group of stereotypes.

Istanbul, Turkey

The first picture that pops on the screen is a picture of the skyline of Istanbul. The tall minarets of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque immediately catch your eye, so this is a place worth looking at. As you start to read, you find out that Istanbul is one of the world's largest cities, and despite what some people think, it is not the capital of Turkey.

Clicking on the tab about daily life, you find out that people here live much like they do in other big cities, although few big cities can claim a history going back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Knowing you'd want to do some sort of internship while you're studying, you find out that Istanbul is a major financial center, as well. Istanbul definitely looks like a comfortable place to spend a school year, but it's not necessarily what you were looking for. With that said, you see a sidebar for another place in the Middle East, and you click it.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

You had no idea where or what Wadi Rum was, but those pictures are nothing short of amazing, like something straight out of the adventures of Aladdin or Lawrence of Arabia. Camels, tents, and a sky full of stars - you find out that Wadi Rum is a massive preserve near Petra, Jordan. Here, people live a very different life. Sure, some people live in the cities, but if you were to study here, you would be given the opportunity to live as a Bedouin, a nomad who still herds goats, sheep, and camels. Now that would be an experience!

However, besides some Arabic language classes, you notice that education is pretty lean. Knowing how to milk a camel is only so useful when applying to colleges, after all. Figuring that something with a less familiar name may be a good option, you click on a link under the Africa heading.

Mogadishu, Somalia

You're met with good news -- and bad news. Mogadishu, Somalia has a beautiful harbor, classes in everything you could imagine, and food that has been given a 5-star review. However, the whole page has been grayed out, and you are met with a pop-up saying that due to current events, studying in Mogadishu has been suspended.

Curiosity gets the best of you, and you search 'Mogadishu.' You're soon met with the reason why. Civil war has consumed this city for years, taking what was once a very wealthy region and plummeting it into chaos. The environment may be pretty, but the political situation makes this a nonstarter for you. You can't even imagine what it would be like to be a student here. In fact, you wonder if it's even possible to study here, given the conflict. Quickly, before you read any more about the tragedies, you go back to the exchange program website and search for one last place.

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