When people talk about the UAE, what immediately comes to their minds is exotic holidays in Dubai. Do you know that there is more to the UAE than just being a tourist attraction? They also have good universities which offer world class education. Our guest today, Zainab Arulogun, shares her experience studying in the UAE with us.

Hello Zainab. Can you tell us the name of your university and the course you studied?

I studied  at American University of Sharjah and I obtained a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from there.

Why did you choose to study at American University of Sharjah and why Civil Engineering?

I chose the university because it has a strong academic reputation in the region. I was a science/ engineering student in secondary school and as I was going to study in one of the fastest developing regions structurally, Civil Engineering seemed to be the right fit.

What are the requirements needed to study the course?

The requirements can be found on the university’s website here

What’s the major difference between education in Nigeria and in the UAE?

Generally, it varies based on the institution itself and the educational system it follows. My university followed the American system, and used a credit hours based system as a requirement for graduation. The class sizes were small and students had easy access to the professors. Students assisting with academic research were also encouraged. Other educational systems followed in the UAE include, but are not limited to the British, Indian and Australian.

Do you feel the environment at your university was conducive for studying?

The American University of Sharjah is reputed for being academically tough and the university is well equipped to assist students in their learning process, with libraries, laboratories, learning centres etc. The institution encourages students to have a social life as well, with extracurricular activities scheduled throughout the academic year.

Is it possible for students to get a part-time job while studying?

Students on the university-sponsored visas are not allowed to work, except when undertaking an internship to fulfil their degree requirement. However, students are allowed to work within the universities, with a limitation of 20 – 60 hours allowed per month.

What advantage has getting a Bachelors degree from American University of Sharjah given you?

The university has a great reputation with leading organizations in the country, as well as a strong alumni network, which helps when seeking job opportunities in this region.

Can you tell us about the method of teaching used in your course?

Teaching methods are lecture based and depending on the program being studied, there might be design studio and/ or laboratory sessions included. Most courses have a project requirement which will have to be completed individually or as part of a team. The team projects help to understand working and socializing with a group of people with typically diverse backgrounds.

What challenges did you face while getting your degree?

As I mentioned earlier, the university has high academic expectations from its students and by the 3rd week of classes, we the students were basically going from one deadline to the other till the end of the semester.

How did you overcome them?

Through proper time management. I cannot emphasise the importance of time management, especially if you want to maintain a social life as well. It also helped to develop relationships with fellow course mates who you can study (or rant) with.

If you could choose somewhere else to study, where would you choose?

Australia because it’s another different place.

How can prospective students make the most of their stay in the UAE?

They should do what needs to be done at the right time and be open to all new experiences within reason. Study smart and socialise. There are many opportunities here, both within and outside the classrooms, but you might not know of them unless you put yourself out there. I’ll admit, it is easy to get carried away though because the main emirate is the land of glitz and glamour but as long as the person stays focused and grounded, studying in the UAE could be a lovely experience.

Any other advice?

Living in the UAE could be relatively expensive, but once you are familiar with the country (once again, get to know people), you can live well within your budget. You should also note that although students can work at the university, such job opportunities are not guaranteed, so make sure you have enough money for the year.

Are you a graduate? Are you currently studying at a university in Nigeria or you are studying abroad? Share your experience with us. Prospective students have a lot to learn from you. You can send us an email – hello@1plify.com or tweet at us. You can also send us a message on Facebook. We would love to hear from you.