Challenges Faced In The University Education Essay

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Lets start the essay with the introductions first. My name is Jomana and the meaning of my name is Pearl. I was born on 1st November 1992 which makes my zodiac sign Scorpio. I was born in Abu Dhabi but my family basically belongs to Syria. My father is a civil engineer and due to the nature of his job, we settled here in Abu Dhabi. My mother was a teacher here but after her marriage, she became a loving and hard-working housewife. I am happily living with my family here and love spending time with them. They are a truly loving bunch and they support me through all the highs and lows of life. I am lucky to have them.

Due to the love and care of family, my childhood days were remarkable and I had a very good upbringing. When I started my school life, I always loved to take initiatives in every step and this developed my confidence to an adequate level. In my school, I took the subjects of Arabic, English, Mathematics and Science. Why did I choose these particular subjects? Well it was because of their interesting and intriguing nature that pulled me towards them. However, English was the only subject in between these that truly attracted my attention because of the vast amount of knowledge and variety it offered. It is always fun to learn a new language (Blume & Board, 2010). On the other hand, Math became my weak point because of the difficulty of this subject and that it required a thorough understanding of concepts.

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I also possess some very peculiar hobbies which include cooking and travelling to traditional places. My mom being a great cook, I learned many of the recipes from her especially my favorite ones like Kebab and Tabola. To satisfy my other hobby, we travel to Syria in our summer vacations where I get the chance to visit many prestigious and traditional places like Aleppo castle and Al-Umawy mosque. These places have a certain air of grandiose around them and it is considered essential for every Syrian to visit these places once in her or his lifetime.

My future ambition is to pass University with flying colors and to get a placement in my favorite position of Geographical Information System (GIS). My other desire is to see the world and travel to different places.

Start of University Life

I enrolled in the United Arab Emirates University in 2010 to pursue my higher studies so that I can be equipped with the latest knowledge. In the start, we were taught foundation courses of subjects like Arabic, English and Math so that we can build a general understanding of these subjects (Compte & Postlewaite, 2004). It was around this time that I met a lot of new people and some of them even became my good friends.

I have rented out the University accommodation in the Maqam hostel because it makes it easy for me to attend my classes on time. Another big reason for opting university hostel was that it allowed me to meet with other students from all around the world. Meeting with different people helped me in broadening my perspective about the world and it also gave me a glimpse of different cultures that exist today in different parts of the world (Wang, 2010). This is truly a majestic experience in my view. In the university hostel, it is pretty easy to exchange information on different subject matters and this is also one of the reasons that I chose this for my accommodation.

Challenges Faced in University

University life is a very fast paced life where you need hard work and determination to survive. The learning is not just limited to insides of a classroom but the whole area surrounding the university. Of course when I enrolled back in 2010, there were many challenges that which I had to face and overcome because the University environment is truly a life changing experience (Lee, 2003).

In the start of my University life, the biggest challenge that I had to face was that of a language barrier. As we live in an Arab country where the official language is Arabic, switching to the international language of English was quite difficult for me in the start. Although I knew English pretty well and was able to understand it, the main hurdle was of speaking. In the UAE university, you had to converse in English in all matters and it was appreciated. You had to write, converse and read in English which made some matters difficult (Feely & Harzing, 2007). For Example, in start of my first year here, I was told to collect my roll number from the administration department. The staff at the department conversed mostly in English and I found it pretty difficult to get my message across them. Speaking English fluently was one of my weak points so I had to resort to some English and Arabic mixture to obtain my roll number slip.

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In the classroom, the instructor and the students were required to speak English because we have many different students coming from different nationalities (Cook & Gronke, 2002). English language was the only thing that connected us together and it was a little difficult for me in the start to adjust in this kind of environment. The instructor delivered lectures in English and some of the vocabulary used to just fly over my head. This made me realize that I need to improve on my listening as well.

In the first year of our university, we were required to work in groups in some project matters. The whole class was split into groups of three and four. Just one of my group mates was an Arab while the other two belonged to different Asian countries. At first it was quite difficult to communicate with them because like me, they were not fluent in English language and we had to speak in broken English just to get our message across. The mentality of each group member was also different (Blume & Board, 2010) and coming to a unanimous decision or common understanding proved quite difficult. This consequently led to some major problems in the project on which were supposed to work.

Talk about a hectic life. This was just a start of problems that I was going to face in the future. The most terrifying part of the project is its 'presentation' (Compte & Postlewaite, 2004). Yes, I am talking about the phenomenon of presenting your work in front of an audience. I always had a problem with nerves when faced with a large crowd and coupled with the fact that we were required to speak and converse in English, this added to my dread. Our group work was in tatters because of language and cultural barriers that we faced in the start so all of us feared that we were truly goners. The first presentation of my University life went very shaky. I started pretty nervous and after what seemed like an eternity, erratically concluded it. This was more like a severe punishment rather than a presentation for me. However, it also greatly boosted my confidence and the slur in my English speech was reduced considerably.

In our second year, we were required to do a research paper on a particular subject. We all know that research papers require extensive knowledge on the respective subject and exclusive research skills that are important for its completion. Since it was my first research paper, I did not know where to start and how to develop it in a respectable project. I was aware of only thing that was at my disposal and it was the internet. Although, it helped me a lot in choosing a particular topic and starting it, there were still some essential pieces of information missing. I had to resort to my instructor's help in this matter and he gave me the advice to go in the university library and browse books on my subject matter (Wang, 2010). It was extremely time consuming and hectic to manually search for books in the library related to my topic but in the end I managed to complete my research paper. It took me longer than usual to finish it.

Our classroom is much diversified since it contains students from many different backgrounds. Our teachers are mostly Europeans or Asians who only converse in English. So the biggest hurdle that I faced in my class was that of language barrier. All of my classmates were eager to learn about each other including myself but the communication gap due to language barrier (Feely & Harzing, 2007) kept us from becoming close in our starting period. It really took quite some time for us to get to know each other well because of this hurdle.

During my internship tenure, I also faced quite some trials. The major problem for me in this regard was that I was not quite well equipped with the knowledge required to perform the required tasks. Since the internee is made responsible for some particular tasks, the lack of knowledge about them posed a big problem for me. My performance of the first few days in internship was not graded very well which made me feel a little bit de-motivated. Students who were shy or suffered from lack of confidence (Compte & Postlewaite, 2004) also faced some problems in their internship programs. The University particularly organized some seminars for these types of students so that they can boost their confidence and overcome their shyness.

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In our University, it is mandatory for everybody to study foundation subjects like Arabic, Math and English. Although it is good for developing basic understanding of these subjects, lack of interest in any of these subjects will pose serious problem for the student (Lee, 2003). In my opinion, the interest of the student should be gauged in this matter because most of the students do not qualify in their first attempt. Also due to some particular timing of classes, it becomes difficult for me and the other students to organize our study plans. In order to excel academically in our university, one needs to constantly revise his or her lectures so that a strong understanding is developed. Uneven time tables also proves to be quite annoying when wants to study immediately after the class and there is another lecture waiting for you.

Conclusion

University life is no doubt dissimilar to other types of educational institutions that one goes to. There are many challenges waiting for around the corner when one enrolls in the university and it takes quite a bit of courage to deals with these kinds of situations (Newton & Norris, 1999). I cannot stress enough on the importance of hard work as it is essential. We face challenges in every walk of life and it is always better to be prepared. Thomas Edison rightfully said so, "There is no substitute for hard work".