Mohammed is one of those rare people who never fail to add a little bit of fun to your day. He’s confident, easy-going and charming. Pretty much every morning, I hear him joking with the Suzie and Michelle on reception before he heads over to mine and Shelley’s (Director of Studies) office to entertain us too.
Every time, he thinks up a new question to ask or a new suggestion to give. I appreciate that he makes the effort to talk to everybody and that in doing so; he’s also giving himself the chance to practise his English every day.
Mohammed comes from Jeddah, which is the second biggest city in Saudi Arabia. The city borders on the red sea, which is something Mohammed says he likes about his home city. He also likes the huge variety of malls and cinemas.
Mohammed lives with his mum and dad in a villa with its private swimming pool. His dad is a police officer and his mother is a housewife. He has a brother and a sister but they’ve both moved out and have their own homes and families.
Motivation to learn English
Mohammed has been studying with us for four weeks and still has another five weeks to go. This is a big commitment to his English skills but for him, it’s worth it as he hopes it will improve his job prospects. Back home, he works as a computer engineer for an international company and he says that being able to speak English well is essential in his line of work.
Aspirations, Hobbies and Personality
My favourite answer that Mohammed gives is in response to my question about his plans for the future. At first, he seems unwilling to answer the questions, but with a bit of encouragement he reveals that he has big ambitions for his future. For now, he’s content to build up his career in computer engineering but eventually he plans to start up his own business. He claims to have a secret plan that will make him his millions. Sadly, he didn’t want to share it with me.
Outside of work, Mohammed spends a lot of time with his family. He says that the relationship to family is one of the biggest differences he’s noticed between life in Saudi Arabia and life in the UK. He gets the impression that people here maybe choose a day or an evening to spend time with their family, whereas in Saudi Arabia, being with your family is just the normal state of affairs.
Mohammed describes himself as honest and friendly. These traits and the fact that he takes part in the many social activities on offer at the Lewis school have made it easy for him to make friends here. He also gets on well with his homestay hosts, who he moved in with just last week.
Impressions of Southampton
Mohammed favourite thing about Southampton is its location. He likes that he can visit cities such as Bournemouth, Portsmouth and, of course, London. Southampton is also a good-sized city according to Mohammed. He previously spent two months living in Cambridge, which although he enjoyed, he found the city a little too small.
The biggest difference Mohammed sees in Southampton compared to life back home is that you can walk everywhere. In Saudi Arabia, the consistently high temperatures mean that the only way to get around is by car.
The most notable thing that I observe whilst interviewing Mohammed, is how unfazed he is by living in Britain. For most people, moving from one country to another, especially on your own, is an exciting but challenging experience.
Although he does admit to missing his family a little, Mohammed seems to have taken the whole thing in his stride. He even seems vaguely amused by the concept of culture shock. It only goes to show that being open and friendly can take you a long way!
Let us know about your experiences of studying or working abroad.
What things did you enjoy and what things did you find challenging?