Skip to main content
Northwestern University

A Quarter in Qatar

Bryan Lee ’19 is learning first-hand about geopolitics and international relations at Northwestern’s campus in the Middle East

It was more than wanderlust.

Weinberg College senior Bryan Lee’s cultural curiosity and passionate interest in U.S. foreign policy prompted him to pack his bags and travel 7,000 miles from Evanston to study in Doha, Qatar — a small peninsula in the heart of the Middle East.

Lee is spending the fall quarter at Northwestern University’s campus in Qatar, where he is learning first-hand about the region’s culture, geopolitics and international relations. In addition to engaging with fellow students from 40 countries, Lee is studying social, political and economic developments as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

What made you decide to study in Qatar?

I decided to study abroad in Qatar because it is important for Americans to gain exposure to the Middle East and learn for themselves about the region’s political and cultural characteristics.

What’s been your most compelling experience there?

My interactions with the Qatari people have been compelling, as they have inspired me with their sense of optimism about the future of their country and the role of education in it.

What sort of differences have you noticed between student life in Qatar and on the Evanston campus?

I have noticed that student life is more spirited on the Qatari campus, since the campus enrolls far fewer students than the Evanston one and therefore everyone knows each other here.

What’s been challenging about this quarter?

I have found the longer class times to be challenging, since I am in three courses that meet for two hours twice a week and one that meets for four hours once a week. That being said, it does allow me more time to review the course material and discuss it with my classmates.

How does this study-abroad experience fit into your academic and career plans?

I hope to be involved in politics and international relations in my career, and I hope my study abroad experience gives me insight into how the United States and Qatar can strengthen their strategic partnership and continue to work together to solve problems in the region.

What will you miss most about Qatar after you leave?

I will miss seeing the friends that I have made on the Qatari campus, who have been incredibly friendly and generous in showing me the sights around Education City and Doha.

What’s the most interesting class you’ve taken at NU-Q?

The most interesting course I’ve taken at NU-Q has been Qatar on the World Stage, which explores issues like the Qatari diplomatic crisis and preparations for the 2022 World Cup. Qatar does not receive much attention from the American press, so it has been interesting to learn more about its developing role in the international community from my professors.

Would you recommend this experience to your classmates and why?

I would gladly recommend the Semester in Qatar program to any student on the Evanston campus. I think the exchange of people and their ideas and beliefs between the Qatar and Evanston campuses make them each more intellectually and culturally dynamic. 



Back to top