I believe joining the FFEEBB scholarship program was one of the best decisions I have made in my life, it gave me a unique opportunity to choose the best courses at the best European universities and to do the research work I really wanted to do. The best thing about the program is the amount of support I have received; once I was accepted and within a few weeks I received my acceptance letter, my Visa and my flight tickets and the sky was my limit. During my experience, I never was worried about paper work nor feeling alone abroad as there was always a full support all the time from a team of coordinators giving me advice, answers and helping me at any situation. During one year I was able to take courses in very advanced topics, meet amazing people from different cultures, learn new language “My Italian language is getting better and better every day”, visit many European cities and practice different sports that I did not play before in my life like Skiing or Rugby. This program is a great opportunity to discover your real abilities and to redefine yourself, with no limits and no boundaries.
My story began when I heard from a friend that my university “Alexandria University” would be participating in a grand project in which students would be provided exchange opportunities between Egypt and Europe. At once I realized that it might be my opportunity to complete my PhD research with great facilities. I have always dreamt of finding a new learning atmosphere and new techniques to teach. Life for me is all about how much you able to understand and how much you able to use this knowledge, not simply measuring your ability to save dumb information.
So I asked my faculty and searched on the internet to find out more about the project and how I could apply. The next thing I knew, I had an email saying “Congratulations on your successful application!” from MS. Anna. From that moment I prepared myself to travel abroad.
To prepare yourself to travel abroad even if you will only stay a couple days3 things you have to take care about
The first thing:
you have to know the local language of the county which you will visit, In all cases English is a universal language however, in some other countries like France, it is not sufficient to use solely English, especially with common people or in the street and markets, so as much as you can you have to know general phrases to ease the communication with others. So I encourage every student “if you have a free time, studying languages is an interesting hobby”, it makes you open minded and in an indirect way to know about other cultures.
Search and learn about the traditions and customs of the country which you will visit to know about the life style there and daily routine to avoid any miss understanding. It may happen because of the large gap between Eastern and Western Culture. For example French people have no problems with the public kiss even if you do not know them it’s like say hallo in other way but in the east it’s a big mistake to do it like this way. So you have to understand that they do not know anything about our traditions and try to gently deliver what you want to tell others of it, without emotion may cause a tense atmosphere.
The last thing:
If you want to communicate well, try to look for common points between you and others better than looking for points of difference. And concerning about my mobility (6 months) it was a short time to discover much more things because of focusing on my research but I wish to find much more time at the next 6 months extension there, to try new things. However this I’ve tried to enjoy my weekends with other international students visiting the famous places at Nancy and participate in a social activities like arranging a dish party. Actually I am a cooking fan so I love learning about other kitchens (with attention to avoid non halal foods), on weekends we arrange a dish party with other international students in which every student prepare a special dish from his country usually we arrange it at one of our houses.
At last days in France we arrange a trip to Paris "city of lights" to visit the most famous places for 3 days with other Egyptian students, in which we visit: Tour Eiffel et du Musée du Louvre, Eglise de Notre Dame de Paris, Avenue des Champs-Elyseé And other famous places, actually it was great!
The coolest person I’ve met at France he was Prof: Desobry (contact person at INPL). He was so gentile and opened mind person, He always has a several solutions for any problem we faced there, you can feel free when you speak to him because he will get your point of view, and he will help you as much as he can. I think he’s able to satisfy all parties. Finally it was such a wonderful experience!
Whoever said that travelling has 7 benefits is totally ....”Wrong”.
Travelling has at least 700 benefits.
First of all let me thank the FFEEBB team here in Cairo and at Cardiff - UWIC as I bet they worked hard to make our scholarship such a useful one. The following tips and hints will help to avoid any mistakes and recommend many great places to go to when on exchange. Congratulations for winning your scholarship, you have got the opportunity to study and gain a degree abroad. What I mean by abroad is that you will represent yourself and your country in an academic oriented environment in which you have to prove to be responsible, clever, smart and socially active. It’s not an easy task; however it’s not too complicated either. Although situated in the countryside of the Netherlands, ITC is an international institution where you will meet international students and professors from all over the world. They are very friendly, funny, joyful but yet, very strict and punctuate in their profession. Most probably you will see whole new teaching methodologies, examination techniques, experimental processes and cosy lectures. Nonetheless, you will even learn from your colleagues; since they come from different backgrounds they will have another perspective when looking into things. What I liked most is that the professors are keen to listen to the students and even to discuss the validity of all their opinions before they try to provide their knowledge. During this process they refine their knowledge and rethink it scientifically. Although being experts in their profession, they learn while teaching, so you will feel like they are your friends not your professors.
The Dutch life style is a story to be told, yet a shocking experience to most of our eastern traditions. The Dutch culture goes way back in history, most of the museums tell the story of Dutch farms and early villages and the international relationships with their neighbouring countries. Don’t miss this useful background information since you will find a lot of evidence of their history embedded into their modern culture. Try to learn what is useful for you and your own beliefs. The Dutch way of life has many great ideals that you may want to let influence you, such as being punctuate, going to bed early and waking up early, time for work is no joke whilst time for fun is not negotiable, respecting traffic law etc. On the other hand, try to avoid the negatives that appear in the Dutch daily life such as smoking marijuana and drinking beer, these aspects might pull you away from achieving good grades, not to mention the side effects on the human body.
Try to blend into a group that have the same interests as you, try to spend time together, study together. This will take a huge load off your shoulders if you reach the point that you miss your family and friends at home. Don’t let yourself fall into depression due to home sickness by not talking about it; speak about it to your friends they will cheer you up and help relieve you of any bad mood. Always remember you are studying abroad for quite a long time, so make your family proud.
If I may speak freely, I want to give a few tips for Egyptians who are travelling to any European country, not necessary the Netherlands. Take an elastic water pipe with you from Egypt to be used as toilet douche, trust me it will make your life easier if you know what I mean. From a traveller’s point of view, get the international driving licence before you leave Egypt, since you may want to rent a car there and travel around, especially since renting a car is not expensive when you are a group. As a last tip, don’t take too much luggage with you; the Netherlands has supermarkets and food markets trust me.
Since you are in Europe, which lies in a different climatic zone to ours, by any means don’t miss the first snowing event in the beginning of winter! GET OUT INTO THE STREET and scream as loud as you can... make snow balls and throw them at your friends. If you are in the Netherlands, take your companions and go together to Enschede Dreignalo where you will find an indoor Ice-skating track just behind the cinema compound, it’s a wonderful sensation not to be missed. Of course you are in the Netherlands (or wherever you have chosen)to study and further your education, but that doesn’t contradict the fact that you are in the heart of Europe; try to save some money and travel to the places where you feel you have been there before; to the places where you have heard a story here or there detailing an event in the alleys of that city, or some music that you love that is played in a tight street under the moonlight, or even a dish you want to enjoy while sitting in an European plaza. Try to witness the magic of Andalusia (Spain), walk all night in the old part of Paris, observe the architecture of Berlin and taste the essence of history in Rome. Basically, don’t stay in one place (Enschede in my case) the whole time.
Finally I would like to say that this is a once in a life time experience, get the best out of it, build your international network, enjoy your stay carefully and always remember that you are representing your country and your beliefs; so try to do well and good luck.
After finishing the taught modules and courses for my BA in Translation and Interpreting for English, Arabic and German at Graz University in Austria in July 2010, I planned to spend six months in an Arab speaking country, in order to improve my language skills but also my cultural understanding of the Arabic world. The FFEEBB scholarship was a perfect opportunity, as it made financial and organisational obstacles redundant. At the end of August 2010, I flew to Cairo and then travelled by car to Fayoum about an hour away from Cairo.
The dean and the whole staff of Dar Aluluom Faculty (Islam and Arabic Studies) and Fayoum University offered me a very warm welcome. However, I was surprised to find out that I was the first foreign student from a Western country and that I was basically one of the few Western people in the whole of Fayoum. So you can imagine that my presence attracted a lot of people's attention and soon I was well known in my faculty.
The faculty's hospitality and helpfulness to improve my Arabic, the High Standard Modern Arabic as well as the Egyptian Dialect, and to enhance my knowledge about Arabic literature and Islam made my stay at the faculty a very fruitful one.
Outside of university I was able to join the local female Volleyball team of Fayoum. I became a member of the Egyptian Volleyball Federation and I attended matches in Alexandria and Cairo, which helped me to find friends beyond the university campus.
I gained a deep insight into the Egyptian culture and its lifestyle outside of Cairo and the touristic places mostly attended by Western visitors, which, I am sure, will help me to become not only a translator of words but also a translator of cultural differences and understanding.
Since I finished my undergraduate degree in Egypt in Architecture engineering, I have sat my goal to undertake my master’s degree in Europe knowing how much this will impact both my professional career experience as well as my general life experience. However, I was aiming for a slight career shift as I have always dreamt of studying Product Design. Unfortunately, funding these studies was a real nightmare.
After 2 years of searching and applying for different programs, I got lucky to be offered a scholarship opportunity to do an MSc degree in Advanced Product Design in University of Wales Institute, Cardiff under FFEEBB program. During the early days of my program, I was very excited about the experience of living in the UK on my own for the First time. However, I was a little bit anxious about the competition in the course as I was the only international student undergoing this course as well as the only student with no product design background.
Now as I am almost done with my taught modules and starting to prepare for my major project, recalling my experience during my past few months, all the fun I had with my friends, classmates, and flatmates here, the knowledge I gained through the course, even the stress before the deadlines, I just remember all of these moments with a wide smile on my face. I am thanking God for such chance and wishing to get back to Egypt soon to help building the new Egypt we always dreamt about.