Studying abroad: Emirati students adjust to Ireland life

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Studying abroad: Emirati students adjust to Ireland life

If you ask anybody who has studied abroad, they will tell you it’s a life-changing experience.


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Tue 12 Nov 2013, 12:32 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:56 AM

Emirati students studying at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland. — KT photo by Dhanusha Gokulan

Undertaking your graduate studies abroad provides an optimal way to learn a new culture — but, on the downside, you are finally on your own. Adjusting to a new environment, weather, and facing a cultural shock are some of the things that several students don’t look forward to when considering an education abroad.

Take Emirati national Ashwaq Obaid (19) who is pursuing medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

“I was worried about the new kind of lifestyle that I would have to lead in the university. Would there be a lot of hard partying? And how would I adjust to such things?” In the 2011-2012 academic year, 269 Emirati students were studying in Ireland, of whom 81 per cent were medicine students. Of them, 35 were studying in an offshore location.

Khaleej Times caught up with a few students from the UAE who were studying in Dublin, Ireland, and asked them what made the ‘going tough for them’ and how easy or difficult it had been for them to integrate into the Irish culture. Before beginning their main studies, most Arab students were asked to undergo one year of language studies to meet Irish higher educational requirements.

Challenges faced

Authorities in Irish varsities and the educational departments pointed out that there is an improvement in the language skills of Arab students coming in to Ireland.

However, they still find it tough to sharpen their oratorical skills.

“Studying medicine is not easy. Being a student of medicine is in itself a challenge and apart from having to learn to become a doctor, we would also have to learn to live in an environment that is very alien to us,” said first-year medicine student and Emirati national Mohammed Al Shehli.

Integrating into society

Like a lot of Emirati students studying in Ireland, girls like Obaid found it relatively easy to adjust herself to the cultural landscape of the place.

“People are a lot more conservative here as compared to other Western or European nationalities. The Irish hold family and religious values very dear to them and adjusting was easy,” Obaid said. Though a major chunk of the UAE students travel to Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom to pursue their higher education, students who come to Ireland to study say that it is far more practical to study in Ireland, as compared with other countries.

“It’s cost effective and quiet. You tend to study better in quieter places,” she said.

Second-year medicine student at the RCIS and Dubai national Reem Aman agrees.

“Travelling in and out of Ireland is easy, and we didn’t have a problem adjusting because most I’ve met so far have been very welcoming.”

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