Studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity like no other, especially for an Arab girl like myself.
In the past few years, the number of Arab students studying abroad has been increasing with the US, UK and Canada being the most desirable destinations for students. For example, the number of Egyptians studying in the UK has jumped by 87% between the academic year 2012/13 and 2016/2017. However, there are still not enough Arab girls who are given this opportunity.
Here are my top 8 reasons why other young women should commit to this amazing experience:
1)Becoming more open-minded.
Arab countries aren’t as diverse as European countries or the US. Even international schools are primarily attended by Arab students. This makes any Arab girl’s experience abroad far more interesting as she’ll be exposed to multiple cultures and people from different backgrounds. She’ll learn to be more open-minded, get to understand different mindsets and recognize their perspective on certain issues.
2)Improving the language
Practice makes perfect, and when someone is forced to speak English constantly for a couple of years, their language skills will improve massively and will eventually think in both languages’ mindsets. It’s also important to note that the English we use to speak to teachers in classrooms is slightly different than the one we use to chat with friends at the pub. For this reason, Arab girls will also have the opportunity to learn the slang of the country they live in and how to speak differently to a variety of demographics.
3)Travelling the world
Most Arab countries need visas to travel to other countries and plane tickets are not as cheap as in Europe. Every Arab student should benefit from their student visas and plan low-budget trips across the world to explore and learn about other cultures. Nothing is more fun than travelling with your uni friends!
4)Experiencing moving away from home
It’s socially not accepted in most Arab countries to move out from their family home before getting married. So why not try it for a couple of years without being restricted by your parents’ house rules?
We definitely need more Arab ambassadors around the world to break stereotypes around our culture. And before you ask: no, Egyptians don’t go to school by camels and Jordanians don’t live in tents. If more Arab girls studied abroad, we can raise awareness about our real culture and traditions and dismantle stereotypes. This will also allow Arab girls to get to know new cultures and disregard stereotypes surrounding them. It’s a two-way process and a win-win situation for both.
6)Getting to work part-time
Working part-time while studying is regarded socially as a taboo, especially for girls. However, in Europe and America, this is significantly more common. Arab girls can get the chance to work part-time abroad as retail employees, waitresses or chefs and live their ‘Cooking Mama’ dream!
7)Becoming more responsible
This experience can also become quite stressful at times and Arab girls will start to worry about things they never worried about before. For example, they’ll find out that the fridge won’t get full by itself and the food won’t be ready when you come back at 6 pm from uni. Arab girls will start getting out of their comfort zones and do household chores, grocery shopping and cooking, create a bank account and register with a general practitioner. However, all these things they never worried about before and the little things took for granted back home will definitely build up their independence and give them a sense of responsibility.
Not one Arab university is ranked in the top 200 universities around the world according to Times Higher Education. This shows that Arab girls will not only have access to better education if they study abroad, but they will also have a higher chance at employability. Being a graduate from any top university abroad will be a useful asset when applying for jobs in their home countries.
Finally, when an Arab girl is given the opportunity to study abroad, whether it’s in Europe or America, she is given an opportunity of a lifetime. Her mindset will change as well as her lifestyle. She will grow surrounded by different cultures and get out of her comfort zone.
Words By: Fatima Abdelwahab
Edited By: Yasmine Moro Virion