Studying vacation English in England: Mohammed's story
We had the chance to meet Mohammed, a 27 year old student from Saudi Arabia who is studying an English course in the UK.
We discussed with this Kaplan Liverpool student his experience of living and studying abroad.
If you would like to read the interview with Mohammed in Arabic, visit the Kaplan Arabic blog.
Could you tell us about yourself?
I’m 27 years old, and I am a university student in Saudi Arabia, studying languages and translations and majoring in English Language.
Could you tell us about your experience with Kaplan?
The experience is very different here, the atmosphere is friendly, and everyone from students to teachers and staff are like one big family. Their caring makes you feel really special.
What did you like most about the school?
What I like most is the teachers, they love the work they do to the highest degree possible, I have never met people who have love for education more than these people, I did not expect the way the teachers treat us, it’s amazing.
What about the teaching at the school?
The classes are fitted with smart interactive whiteboards in which an electronic panel interacts fully with the person in terms of touch and sound. It is a simulation with the computer in front of you directly, we usually use it to show page book and do exercises. We also listen and watch videos and read the texts from smart boards directly.
We also have Chrome Books, which are small computers that we use when we want to access the internet. We also use the K+ books and programs to help improve our English language. There is also a set of DVDs and books that will help you greatly and websites that the school offers you when you arrive, such as: Macmillan and Merriam Webster to help you improve your English.
What made you want to learn English?
Learning English at the moment in the social system in which we belong to is essential. Getting a certificate from the home of the English language will be a great motivation for you, and makes you feel satisfied that you excelled in something. The global demand is currently evolving; socially, culturally and economically, and we came to the UK to learn the language from its origin because it is fundamental for the global system and very necessary for us.
Have you noticed any improvement in your English language?
The assistance they provided us in the short time that we spent here was great, we talk with the teachers and staff in English, you are obligated to use the English language in every place you go, in streets or if you want to order food in a restaurant, all people are talking to you in English and you have to use the same language, this is when you will notice an improvement in your language. In general, my English was good but I had a bit of hesitation which I noticed disappearing after the third week.
What is the hardest thing you faced since your arrival here?
The most difficult thing we faced since our day of arrival is the night, the night here is very short during the summer, you sleep and the sun is still shining, contrary to what we used to in our country, this was the biggest problem, it was a shock to my biological clock.
What do you think of the city of Liverpool?
Liverpool is one of the most beautiful cities that you can possibly visit. The city cares about its heritage; most of the existing buildings were built in the Victorian era. It’s very normal to enter a restaurant that dates back to the 1760s. Also, the city of Liverpool is pedestrian-friendly, when you are a student you have to walk a lot. People generally have a preconceived notion about the city of Liverpool as bad in terms of the people, but this thing has changed dramatically, people are very nice, it is also one the safest cities in the UK.
Liverpool enjoys an easy access to all places and there are multiple entertainment venues, if you want to go to football stadiums, or do trips on boats or play paint ball ... there are a lot of things that you can do.
There are also many historical places that you can visit such as the Museum of Liverpool which is one of the most important museums in the world. The oldest Chinese community in Europe is located in Liverpool. This community amazes you and makes you interact with it in a fascinating way.
Have you been to other British cities?
We visited several other cities such as Manchester, Blackpool and London, These cities are nice and we had wonderful time there, but you feel nostalgic for Liverpool. The atmosphere is great here too; you do not suffer from high temperatures and high humidity. Although Liverpool is located on a river, you do not feel the humidity.
Tell us about your experience with the international students and your interaction with them.
We have a new group of students every Monday, and I meet them and I go out with them in the afternoon to familiarize them with the city, and take them to restaurants and cafes. During World Cup we would go with them to watch the games.
International students have a preconceived idea about my culture because of the media, and in order to overcome this problem you must be practical and quick, because the first five minutes are very crucial. When you meet for the first time and start talking with them they will change their idea completely.
You must be a social person with international students and your interaction with them is the only thing that makes you benefit from this experience, because if you have friends from the same nationality or if they speak your native language you will not benefit from this experience.
International students are the ones who help you in this matter because you are forced to speak with them in English to deliver your idea and this thing makes you sometimes improvise and use hand gestures to describe your thoughts. In order to benefit from this experience, you do have to interact with them and this will open new horizons for you.
What about the accommodation?
I stay at Atlantic Point, which is a student housing apartment where each flat consists of four or five rooms depending on the building, fully equipped with wardrobe, desk, chair, bed, night stand, private toilet of your own. Your room is locked and the key is with you 24 hours. The building is equipped with CCTV cameras and security guards around the clock.
How do you feel about your experience in accommodation?
We have never had any problems in terms of accommodation, we have a laundry and ironing room and the office guard helps you in almost everything, whether to describe a specific place you want to go to or how to reach it. The services offered are great. It is also particularly suitable for students who come on their own; it is the best option for them because they meet different cultures and nationalities. There are nearly 300 people to interact with daily. The atmosphere is very safe and friendly.
What about teachers at Kaplan?
Ms. Fatima, who is from New York - the United States, is very passionate about the work, you can notice that in her voice and she always pushes you to do your best. I simply did not expect that kind of attention, it is not a matter of qualifications only but teachers here really love their work.
Would you recommend Kaplan International English to your family or friends?
I have one sentence that sums up everything: "when a person loves their work they will succeed" The atmosphere here really great atmosphere, I really cannot describe it in simple words. My experience at Kaplan Liverpool is one of the best experiences in my life and I would recommend it to everyone.