Halfway across the world

Akram, Mohammad, Hatam, Amine, Sarah and Mazhar.From the extensive range of programs we offer, to the international students who come from all around the world, Waterloo is known for being one of the most diverse schools in Canada.

This year, we’ve broadened our diversity even further and become a new partner university with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE).  AGFE is a scholarship program aimed at high-achieving students who are interested in furthering their education.  These students come from various countries in the Middle East: Syria, Egypt, Algeria, the UAE, Somalia, Lebanon and more! 

Last week, I was lucky enough to sit down with Akram, Amine, Hatim, Sarah, Mohammad, and Mazhar, the six AGFE STEM scholars joining us this year, and chat with them about how they’re adjusting to life in Waterloo.

What program are you all in?

Akram: I’m studying Mathematics.

Amine: I’m doing my Masters in Electrical Engineering.

Hatim: I’m doing my Masters in Civil Engineering.

Sarah:  I’m here to study Health Studies.

Mohammad: I’m doing my Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Mazhar: I’m studying Biology. 

How has the transition from home to Waterloo been for you?

Akram: The first week is always hard.  I was confused, and not really settled.  People are helpful – well, sort of!  I get the wrong directions sometimes, but it’s okay, because I understand that they’re just trying to help where they can. Traditional residence is nice, though.  My roommate is just like me, so that helped a lot with the transition. I’ve also been adapting by keeping myself occupied and finding a lot of events to attend!

Mazhar: It’s a little bit challenging.  I never took chemistry, so that’s one thing I’m working hard on right now.

Muhammad: It’s been two weeks, so I think I’ve adapted pretty well.    

Are there any services, clubs, or programs that have garnered your interest? 

Akram: The Entrepreneurial Society, and Maximize Your Potential!  I’ve actually already attended two of the Maximize Your Potential workshops.  I also have my first session in archery today.  There’s also the Student Refugee Program; I find it quite interesting and I’d like to participate.  And, the Data Science Club – full of cool people. 

Muhammad: Everything is interesting!  I’m trying out for the track and field team, and I’d like to get involved with ice skating. 

That’s good to hear!  What are you most looking forward to during your time at Waterloo?

Sarah: Snow!  I’m very excited to see it for the first time.

Muhammad: I’ve never had poutine!  I want to try it. 

Akram: Don’t try it!  It’s bad.  Well, it’s good until you put gravy on it, but that defeats the purpose.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to making new friends. 

Hatim: I’m looking forward to getting good grades.

Mazhar: Yeah, just working on grades basically.

Are you missing home? 

Muhmamad: I keep up with them on FaceTime, so it’s not that bad.

Akram: I haven’t seen my mother. That’s the most important thing.  Maybe I’ll go back home between the winter and spring term. 

Last question: What do you want the rest of UWaterloo to know about you?

All: We want everyone to know that we’re friendly and open-minded!

Akram: I’m a food enthusiast, so if anyone wants to come try Taco Bell with me, that’d be really appreciated. 


Learn more about the Al Ghurair STEM Scholars program

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