Tuesday 31 December 2013

Why ask questions like this when you want to study abroad

The question is how is studying in Germany and how much does it cost to study there. also how is life in general and how do they treat Muslims, and are there mosques and Muslims there. I hear that the people there drink a lot and do bad stuff in public like sex etc. i.e. the environment is not conducive to learning. I want to know how are the students that you had sent are living there, how do they feel about the conditions and how are they studies going.  Of course those that want to practice their religion will do so but those that are Muslims by name only may not care about certain practices and may in fact like that sort of life. 

السلام عليكم .. بغيت استفسر عن دراسة الطب في ألمانيا .. وجم تكلف ؟! و شنو هي الاوضاع الاجتماعية في المانيا من ناحية المسلمين و المساجد .. ادري ان المسلمين موجودين خاصة في برلين ..  لكن شلون نشاطاتهم ..يقولون ان في الويكند تجوف ناس تسوي أمور منحرفة .. كشرب الخمر و ناس سكرانة و علاقات غير شرعية جدام الملأ .. يعني البيئة هناك فاسدة .. فأريد اجوف اوضاع الطلاب الي بعثتوهم شلون وشلون يعيشون و شلون نفسياتهم خصوص هالأمور .. طبعا الناس الي هي محافظة على دينها يهمها والمسلم الي اهو مسلم بس أسميا وغير مهتم وايد في دينه فما بيهمه مثل هالأمور وبالعكس بيرتاح اكثر لها!!

مرحبا اخوي
اشكرك الشكر الجزيل على اهتمامك بالدراسه في بلد راقى جدا مثل المانيا وذلك لان دراسة الطب هناك ذات مستوى متقدم جدا ولكن من الصعب الدخول في جامعاتها لانها تفضل المتفوقين.

وردا على سؤالك بخصوص التصرفات الشائنه للشعب الالماني: دعني اشرح لك تجربتي الخاصه لانني درست في العديد من الدول الاجنبيه والى الان اسافر بشكل اسبوعي الى دول اوروبا وامريكا وكندا قلقد وجدت الاسلام ولم اجد المسلمين. وجدت الاحترام المتبادل ووجدت انهم يحترمون الانسان المتمسك بمبادئه ويكرهون الكذب والرياء ويفضلون التعامل مع الشخص الذي يحترمهم واذا رايت شئ مشين فاغمض عيني لانه لا يخصني ولا استطيع تغييره وبالاحرى لا اريد تغييره لان المسلمين يفعلون ادهى من ذلك ولكن تحت العباءة وبالخفاء.

في اعتقادى لابد ان ناخذ الجيد من تلك البلدان ونتنحى عن الردئ وصدقني اذا قلت لك بان رديئهم افضل من جيدا لدينا

ولربما في ذهابك الى هناك فرصة لتغيير انسان؟

ارجو التفكير مليا بقرار الدراسة في الخارج اذا كنت من الاشخاص الذين لا يستطيعون مشاهدة المناظر التي ذكرتها ادناه لانك ربما ستشاهدها في كل يوم او لن تشاهدها ابدا

المهم ان عندي طالبتان تدرسان هناك وسوف يكتبون لك عن تجربتهما الشخصيه

 My reply to him
Thank you very much for wanting to study in a very advanced country like Germany, especially medicine;  it is very hard to enter a medical school as entry is very competitive, some of their universities only accept students when they did two years at an undergraduate degree, and some want high level of language and high grades in the foundation programme furthermore all the universities accept only the best

To answer your question about improper behaviors by certain members of the German community, let me explain to you my personal experience as I studied in many foreign countries and till now I travel frequently to those countries so let me tell you that I had found Islam but didn't find the Muslims, I had found mutual respect, I had found the people that respect those with principles and hate those that lairs and the hypocrite. They prefer to deal with those that respect them. Whenever I saw youngsters doing things that we do not do, I just close my eyes and pretend nothing is happening, as I am there to learn the good, and ignore the bad, unless I can change things in my own country, I will change others.  Believe me when I tell you that maybe you can be better than me and you may have a chance in creating a more conducive atmosphere for learning,  however I still want you to think deeply into your desicion to study abroad, if these attitudes distract you, then you may as well not travel as you may see the things you mentioned every day or you may never see them.  In any case I have few students that made it there and are very successful, so I will ask them to email you and ecxplain to you their own experiences

Saturday 28 December 2013

Personal statements and what it means.

Dear Student, first let me thank you for contacting me and for sending the reference letter and the personal statement.  I am sorry that it took a long time for me to reply to you.  I was pondering upon personal statements of our students and found that none of the students actually write what it takes to make their acceptance to universities a sure thing. 

Your personal statement are very specific, it should include what course you intend to study and why you have chosen this specific course, why you are right for the course, your accomplishments outside the classroom (extracurricular activities, etc..) and tie it together with how this will help you with your intended major if possible,  any interests and skills. You could also get ideas of how to write online by searching “structure of personal statements”

This is in general, but in specific you need to explain your goal in life, and sorry your goal is not to study, your goal is what is going to be done with that study, what you are trying to accomplish in life, what you feel you will be, where those studies are going to take you.  Are you going to be passionate about the courses or passionate about what you will do with those courses? 

Also you must show that you had done something to this world, and that you are going to do more, you are going to help someone get out of his or her vicious circle, or you will improve on a medical field. You must show that your ambition is to be the next Einstein, or Thomas Addison, or Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs.  You must show your admiration on something in life, or your dissatisfaction with the status quo and your hope in creating a better life for humanity.

Your studies must help you achieve, and the environment that you will study in must be such that it will push you beyond your boundaries.

Finally and most importantly, you must have an Idol, which can be a family member or anyone that inspired you to do what you are setup to do.

After saying all of this, please re-write your personal statement and try to include some or all of the above points

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Jet Lags and Dreams

Last night was one of those nights where sleep tries to close your eye lids but the body thinks "oh my eyes must be joking its still too early to sleep" sort of night. Yes I have jet lag, and I am not ashamed of it, I bet everyone gets it, it come as  parts and parcel of our job.  I just hope that one day one or two of my students will thanks me for my work and at that point all the tiring nights when I am up and everyone else is asleep will be a worthwhile.

Anyway, so while tackling my 1400 emails that got collected due to my vrious trips, I hear a scream and my daughter jumps out of her room to the living room screaming " a big bug a big bug" there we go again she is having them nightmares, I tell you guys, kids these days bring the nightmares by force; they watch horror movies just before going to sleep, so of course they will have the bugs or whatever it is these movie producers think of to scare the hell out of us while awake, what if we watch them before sleeping? dear lord!!  so I try to remove the bug (imginary) and send her to sleep in my room (the husband is away on another business trip so she wont bother him).  Then when I finally listened to my eye lids I went to sleep, or rather I went to brush my teeth, fiddeled a bit with my creams and toners bla bla bla. I woke up freezing! oh my god, the tempreture is sub zero? I checked the AC, and it was on full fan with low tempretures, it must be another bug from my daughter's dreams crowling to the AC controler and switichng it on :) so I tampered with the controler and went back to sleep.

I didnt tell you that I had met with over 40 universities and visited two of them during the past week, so in my dream I was thinking of what all of them were asking me to do, hence my dream.  I was telling them that they should provide a portal to their students to post all of ther assignments in, and these should be open to the public to see, and should also be picked up by the search engines like Google, Yahoo, Alta Vesta, Bing, and the many others.  Of course my fvourite is Google as it can answer any of your questions, genius. 

Three things will be tackled by this idea, firstly the students will be happy, secondly they will all try to have the best assignments as they know that anyone can check the quality of their work especially when they start to look for jobs, thirdly and most importantly there will be  huge movement on the websites of the universities which should improve their business and drew a lot of people to know about them.  In actual fact many universities are publishing their researchers work on their websites, but how many researcher do universities have? not as many as the total student populations.  Some universities have as many as 60000 students, and if they have to do a minimum of 30 projects, assignements, book reviews etc. a year then that will be 1.8 million assignments/projects on the websites; and if some use tags and adwords, then that is even better.

Well, its just a dream that can be true.

Monday 16 December 2013

Traveling with ease

Well, I said it last time, and I will say it again.  I should not be trusted in booking flights or hotels or even full itineraries, as I get so distracted and may book in the wrong days, wrong flights and wrong hotels.  So for this trip to USA I tried to be smart and let my friend (who happened to travel to the same destination and at the same time) to book my flights with hers.  Omm, did this work out well?  If it was, I wouldn’t be writing this blog would I now??

So she booked us the international flight, which went really well, and we had our two days’ vacation in New York.   New York was so much fun; we did all the stuff we wanted to do, went to the Guggenheim, the Met, did some shopping, walked to the Hudson river, central park, went through the snow storm, and last but not least ate in a Turkish restaurants. These Turks make great meals especially for people like us who like spicy and meaty dishes. 

Then she booked the domestic flights, the first leg went well, apart from misspelling her name and mine, but hers was easy to detect so they returned her to the check in desk, while mine was not that evident, so I passed through, we almost lost our flight knowing the queues in JFK airport.  At the end we got in almost on the dot. And we landed in Miami.

The taxi driver cheated her and returned to her 30 dollars instead of 70 dollars. But that was really the only mishap we had in Miami. I did my conference and we went to Orlando, had our trip and all was good.  We then returned back to Miami for me just to stay the night as I have to leave the next day back to Dubai, and she stays with her friends and continue her vacation.

Nothing seems to be very strange so far, as we had discovered at New York’s airport that my flight back goes to another airport, and I have to take a cab or the shuttle, and may end up losing my flight as its very tight.  So the check in person advised to buy a ticket there and then for 339 dollars, or go to the airport early in Mia and ask to change the flight as sometimes they do that, and charge only 50 dollars.  Being mean, I decided to take the second option.  I tried to ring http://www.cheaptickets.com/  no one replied hence being called cheap tickets.

I arrived to the airport as promised, had to pay 369 dollars for changing my tickets, 60 dollars for the luggage, and I was stranded at Miami airport as New York has a snow blizzard and all the flights are delayed. We don’t know when we will be flying, but the weather is nice the sun is shining and I love Miami.  

Once we reached JFK all was great, but then our flight was also delayed, so we reached Dubai few hours late, and guess what!!! my luggage didn't arrive, I think it loved the weather in NY!

 after saying all of this, I will still say that I love traveling, and will do it over and over again.

Tuesday 10 December 2013


I am totally wrong, I always thought that with the help of people or money one can do anything one wants. Well, maybe this is true, but not in every facet of life.

Why am I saying this all of a sudden? I would love you to guess, but I cannot wait to find out, so I must tell you :)

At last I watched Steve Jobs movie, if I said I loved it, then this will be the understatement of the century. Even though I read the book, and I followed every new thing he created, hated it when they took his company off him, bla bla bla,  the movie this time proved that a movie can be better than the book.  I loved him before but I am loving him even more now, not him as a person, because he is dead, but becasue of what he represented.  The Vision that he had and what he wanted to give to humanity is something so rare and is similar to what the scintists do, create something without having an agenda of making money out of it.  They money will come, but the reason for creatng that thing is to help humanity to prosper and make life easier for them. 

If this vision is in everybody's mind, our world will be a better place to live in. If we all had vision, we will not have wars, and the only thing humanity will quarrel about is who is going to provide better things for our future generations, not who is going to conquer the under privileged countries.  

I think we must teach kids in schools of how to form a vision, I think vision should be the subject of talk shows and we should have a "Vision Idol Show" that can be franchised to all the countries (similar to Voice or American Idols or American Got Talent)

What do you think guys?

So How is your LIFE going?

This is the first question I ask my students when they come back to Dubai and visit us in the office.  I dont ask them how are their studies or how were their teachers, or if they passed or not, as all of these will be answered if I knew how they did life-wise. 

An international student needs to know that he has a home to go back to, not to dread, he needs to know that he can have nice food, not a muggy kidney beans pie, he needs to know if he can wash his cloths in the same building he is living in, rather than carry them to the closest launderett, he needs to know if the gym is close by, if there is a prayor room on campus, and if its easy to find the location to Qibla.  He wants to know if the supermarket is not very far from were he lives, and he can get his linen and day to day cloths fom a shop that is not that expensive.  He wants to have friends to visit and he needs to know if the local doctor is ready to see him even if he only has the flu. Also if he is feeling down he wouldn't be pushed aside but someone will counsel him and help him in his delemma, he also needs to have his finances sorted, or helped find a job, or to find a bank that will not place a lot of charges on him.

Whether we like or not, the university life represents only a third of a students' life, and the two third is spent around the unviersity, so we must focus to make it easy for him.  If not then we cannot blame him for not passing.

I wonder if a professor had asked a student on the reasons of not doing an assignment well? maybe he had a flood in his room, or his refrigerator was not working and the can of milk was bad, so he got food poison.  If a professor finds out more about a student, maybe he can be his best research assistant.  Not all students are lazy, some of them are damn good! some of them are very creative and some of them are going to be our next Steve Jobs, or Einstein. Think about it universities! you can have the researchers who will put you on the top 200 best universities in the world.  All you need is to look after them.  

Thursday 28 November 2013

Its a memorable day

First of all congrats for winning the Expo 2020, five years from now we will have six months of expos in Dubai, and business will improve for everyone, I will be part of it of course.  Even though I will be 62 at that time, but age has nothing to do with it I guess.

My day was hectic, I arrived late from Bahrain last night after spending 5 days of back to back meetings, outings, presentations, and budget setting for the new office there. Seeing the little one was the icing on the cake, but of course she doesn't like me, I think its because I am not there all the time, so a reminder to me "go to Bahrain often granny!!" . 

I reached my first meeting for the day late, and after the meeting I spent hours on the phone following what is happening to my sister who is diagnosed with another cancer in the womb, she had a tumor removed from her breast, so we convinced her to go to the most famous hospital in the country, she did after great resistance.  Once she reached there and being admitted, she was going to undergo various medical checks, which she didn't like so she took off, my sister, her husband and my nephew ran after her, but she refused to go back. then on the way back to Dubai, lots of phone calls happened, and now she is going to Lebanon to be tested by a very famous oncologist there, hopefully (that is her saying as she is in denial) he will discover that she doesn't have cancer and she will be back on the next plane home.  We also hope so of course, as no one wants to have cancer in ones house.  Cancer is something we hear about, but do not want to experience t first hand.

So all the celebration of the Expo2020 didn't do much for us, as we are all sad to know that our sister is not feeling that well.  However looking at her talking and chattering away with the friends who visited makes one feel that its all a medical mistake, as she looks fine, and maybe she is fine, but one must make sure.

Hopefully when 2020 arives, we will all be having booths in that expo and my sister will be selling something or the other there.  I want to have a tea stall, with my special cookies, to be sold to those that are tired from walking in the huge setup that Dubai is preparing.  Or better still, my art project will also be approved and Dubai will be very colorful in preparation for the expo.  One never knows, but one has to plan.

Please wish my sister the best of health, and see you all in five years in Dubai, its our city, and we love it.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Owning a million tongues

My father used to say that learning another language is like owning another tongue, being another person and marching with a new costume. This is all true as languages represent the culture, tradition, way of life, simplicity, complexity and many more of these adjectives that are used to describe a country and its people.  We cannot stop there; even the way people speak their language can be depicted on a canvas to show how the people behave or what kind of body language they would use. 

Today I had a student in my office who wanted to go to Germany to study Medicine, I explained to him that he needs to have at least the first level of the language to make the visa process easier, however finding a school that teaches the German language is not easy, and if we do, the sessions are not as regular as we would like them to be.  So I asked the student if he has a smart phone, he took it out of his pocket, and I asked him to download an APP to teach himself the language, we did that at the same time, and soon both of us learnt few words.  What I noticed that both of us were speaking in a very strict manner, same as how the German speak.  The French people move their shoulders and make noises from their mouths, the Italians shout, the Arabs scream, the Spaniards sing, The English rolls marbles in his mouth, and there it goes for the rest of the languages.  More often than not, you don’t only recognize a person by the way he/she speaks that he/she are from Germany, France, Bahrain or England, but also by the way he/she walks, eats, drink and even writes. 

Our schools teach mainly in Arabic, we also study English and sometimes French but we are not privy to other languages; as much as I would love to see that we are taught Latin, Asian languages, other European languages, or even Portuguese, but this dream needs a long time to be fulfilled. 

The belief of owning another language is not on the ministry of education agenda, so if there are schools that will teach a language, it will be mostly English language schools, French schools and off late Goethe institute and Berlitz had opened German language branches in the Gulf region.  I haven’t seen many Korean or Chinese schools opening their doors, nor Turkish, Iranian, Indian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Banghali, or even Arabic. 

My opinion on the lack of love to languages stem from few reasons:
1.       The Arab world is still busy in raising themselves to the level of OECD countries
2.       The level of poverty is still high and people are busy fighting for their lives
3.       The Democracy experienced in OECD countries is yet to evolve in the Arab world, and till then most of the inhabitants will focus only on the basic educational necessities instead of indulging in learning another language. 
4.       Most of the jobs that require a second or a third language are provided to the expat community that live in the middle east, as there is an inherent deficiency in the recruiters’ mind which assumes that all the Arabs only possess one language.
5.       The illiteracy level needs to be eradicated first before we venture into studying another language.

Of course if we want to find more reasons we can by conducting a study on the tendencies and linking it with the behaviors of governments, companies and people in the Middle East, and align the curriculum taught in the Arab world to see any comparatives that are explicitly mentioned in it.  I doubt though that a study of this nature would take place as every one may think that we have more pressing issues to think about instead of trying to find why people do not take up another language?

To end this opinionated article I would like to add that many of us would love to learn another language at night and after work, travelling to another country is what most of us do, but its costly and not possible to all.  So if investors are clever enough, then opening schools in the middles east will be the best investment they had ever entered into.  If you want to ascertain this fact do check the history of Eton institute in Dubai. It started with a small classroom teaching English and grew dramatically into a large institute that teaches over 23 languages in a matter of few years.  The owner more than tripled his investment and also is indulging in raising charitable events and community engagement which is a refreshing way to do business in the Middle East.

Bonne Lecture
Gute Lekture
Boa Lietura
Good Reading
قراءة جيدة