There is one experience in my life that I look back on fondlymy time studying in England. As I had never been there before, I was quite nervous before I went. I did not know anyone, and this was quite a challenge for me. Up until that point in my life, I had always lived in Dubai. I felt safe and secure because my family and friends were around and I didn’t have to worry about what lay ahead. However, when the opportunity to go to study in England came up, I had no choice but to take up the offer. I’m sure that many people would do the same because this type of opportunity does not come along everyday. The reason why I was being offered this once-in-a-lifetime experience was due to my good grades at my local high school. What made this offer even more exciting was that my school would take care of all of my expenses during my time in London. Once I found out, I immediately knew that I would go there if I was allowed to. My parents, especially my father, were very strict and did not like to let me out of their sights at all. To prepare for the inevitable explanation to my parents, I first tried breaking the news to my younger sister. Her response was one of amazementI could sense that she felt jealous about the tremendous opportunity that I had. She encouraged me to tell our parents as soon as possible so that they would have more time to prepare themselves for it. I concurred with her assessment and decided that I would tell them when I next had the opportunity to speak with them. Later that night, I sat the whole family down in one place and told them of my exciting news. Surprisingly, both of my parents seemed remarkably relaxed about the whole thing. They even offered to give me spending money during my time away! At the sound of this, I felt heartened that this was the right move for me at this stage in my life.
When I first arrived at Gatwick Airport in London, I had someone waiting to pick me up, even though I had never personally met them before. Back in Dubai, I was assigned a host family that would take care of me during my stay in London. As it turned out, it was not really a family that I would stay with; an old lady and two dogs ended up looking after me. The first couple of days were quite tough for me both physically and socially. As I came from the heat of Dubai, I was not used to the cold London weather. It was just my bad luck that I had come in winter! Also, the accents of the local people were quite hard to understand, so most of the time I just smiled and nodded at them.
After I had settled in, my host took me to my first day of classes at an upper class school in the city. As she had been a student there before, she was able to offer me some advice about the place and also what to expect. Once I arrived, I noticed that the school was not like anything that I was used to at all. There were large grass fields with rugby posts and football goals on them. Compared to what I was used to in Dubai, this school seemed huge! When I was in class, I noticed that there were a number of different cultures in the room. This immediately made me feel at ease. It seemed like everyone was encouraging of students with diverse backgrounds such as mine, so I was not afraid to ask questions of my teacher whenever I did not understand something. After a few weeks, my schooling experience in London became normal for me. I don’t know if I could say that it was any better than my school in Dubai, but I enjoyed the experience of learning from another culture and understanding the way I thought about certain cultural customs. Even though I was not British, I learnt that what is important is that I keep my culture because it is part of who I am. When I went back to Dubai, I was able to look and my own culture with new eyes. Things that seemed normal before did not make sense the way they once did. Now that I had something to compare to, I was able to fully appreciate my own culture and the values that it stands for. Overall, I can say that my time studying in London was a great learning experience and it is one that I shall never forget.