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“Spread the word that there’s an English track”

Her first encounter with Problem-Based Learning was quite a shock, laughs Ghada Almojadidi, a second-year Medicine student from Saudi Arabia, originally from Makkah. “I arrived in the middle of the year that prepares students from my country for Medicine. The first thing I noticed was that the teacher wasn’t talking; it was the students who were talking. Then after a while the tutor asked me: ‘Ghada what do you think?’ I wasn’t used to that. It was a culture shock for me.” Now, more than two years later, she loves PBL. “I don’t want another system anymore. I like studying in Maastricht. We do a lot of practice in the skills lab, we get to meet patients – simulated patients – in our first year. It becomes so natural. In my country you meet them very late in your studies.”

Ghada Almojadidi first spent 18 months studying in Melbourne, Australia. “I studied English and wanted to apply for Medicine. But that was impossible in Australia: only 2 out of 200 international students get a place. A fellow student told me about Maastricht. I immediately applied.” She’s doing well – “I passed everything” – but she misses the international classroom. “Most of the time I’m in class with fellow Saudis. There’s 30 of us altogether. Sometimes we have 2 or 3 people from other countries in our PBL group. So that’s a pity, you’re not meeting anybody new.” She has a tip for the faculty to increase the number of students from different countries: “Spread the word that there’s an English track. A lot of Dutch students don’t know about it.”

Ghada doesn’t meet a lot of foreign students. “I took some Dutch classes, where I met some Chinese people and some from England. But it’s hard to keep in touch when you have to study hard. I might take another Dutch class. I don’t believe in living in a country without speaking the language. It’s once in a lifetime that you get the chance to learn Dutch from native speakers.”

She lives in a house together with her younger sister Mai, who is a first-year student of European Law School. “We’re a bit spoiled with three bedrooms and a living room for the two of us”, she laughs. In contrast to Ghada, Mai meets a lot of foreigners. Ghada: “I’m really jealous; she meets people from all over the world. That’s what studying abroad is all about.” Mai smiles. She started in September 2011 and has already learned a lot, she says modestly. “I improved my English and I’m less shy now. I speak to a lot of people from all over the world. And yes, I bring them to our home too.”

 

 

Riki Janssen

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