This is the second part of Ahemd’s, (a student from Saudi Arabia), experience of studying in two English speaking countries. On the fist leg of his adventure he studied in Melbourne, Australia, which you can read about here. For part two of his exploration he moved to the other side of the world to Cleveland, Ohio in the U.S., where he currently resides.
Studying English in Cleveland: Why Cleveland?
Cleveland is not one of the most famous cities in the U.S., so the question had to be asked, why did Ahmed choose to study there. The answer is simple, because the University accepted him. However as you will find out, Cleveland ended up being a pretty good destination for studying English. Studying English in Cleveland was his initial goal given that when he first arrived he could only understand half of what people said, but he is currently studying there for his Master’s degree in Accounting.
Studying English in Cleveland: The English School
Ahmed’s experience studying English in Cleveland was very different from his Melbourne experience. He gave me a quick comparison between the two and explained why he had more success studying English in Cleveland. The first difference was inside the classroom. The classes were shorter and each class focused on it’s own discipline. There was a class specifically for writing, another specifically for speaking, one just for reading and so on and so forth. He felt like this allowed him to focus better on the task at hand. The second difference was the resources that the school provided. He mentioned that there are a lot of organizations and clubs for international students to join. There was even a tutoring program, where native speaking University students would tutor the international students. He also had the opportunity to participate in a homestay (where he lived with a family). All of these things contributed to his ability to assimilate and to his success in studying English in Cleveland.
Studying English in Cleveland: The People
Interacting with Americans was the biggest change between studying English in Cleveland versus Melbourne. He felt that overall they were friendlier, a little happier, and more welcoming of foreign students than what he experienced in Melbourne. He most enjoyed his homestay experience over the American holiday season. This takes place every year starting with Thanksgiving at the end of November, and continuing on to Christmas, and then ending with New Year’s Day. Many families invited him to spend the holidays with them, and it was during this time that he learned a lot more than just English. He specifically said that it made him realize how close American families are, something that he had not been aware of previously. He stated that being able to work with people who think differently and have different beliefs than him was important to his future. Being around these families made him feel welcomed by people who had different cultural beliefs and thoughts, which he thought made his life experience richer than that of his peers who stayed in his home country.
Studying English in Cleveland: Studying at the University
As previously stated Ahmed didn’t just go to Cleveland to study English. His ultimate goal was to receive his Master’s degree in accounting. With that in mind I thought it would be nice to get a comparison from him on the differences between school in America and school in Saudi Arabia. He says that the way the class is conducted is different. In America he and his fellow students were asked to do projects, papers, assignments, and to work in groups. He said he was asked to give his opinion more and not just repeat what he had learned from the professor. He said in his home country he’s just asked to do the assignments and take the exams.
Studying English in Cleveland: The City
We already know that Cleveland chose Ahmed more than he chose it. Yet, he found that he liked Cleveland. He finds it to be a good place to study and a good place to live. It’s not quite as exciting as Melbourne, and he admitted he didn’t find very many exciting things to do in the city, but he enjoys living there. He says the lack of exciting events is not so bad because it helps one to save money. If you come to Cleveland he recommends that you take advantage of the parks, especially the ones near the lake, which is one of his favorite things to do.
The city is not that big and not that small, and it boast some great sports teams. He made it very clear that “we have the best basketball team”, and he takes the time to enjoy the games. Taking in some American sports is definitely something that he’s taken advantage of during his time in Cleveland. In addition to the basketball he enjoys the Cleveland Indians (baseball), but like anyone with sense doesn’t recommend that you waste your time on the Cleveland Browns (football). Overall he really likes Cleveland. He’s been to many other American cities, but Cleveland is his favorite.
Studying English in Cleveland: Traveling Around the U.S.
Like most students who come to the US Ahmed took the opportunity to travel to other cities. Three of them stand out in his mind. He really enjoyed the LA area. He not only went to the city, but also the surrounding areas, in particular Santa Monica. He’s been twice and especially enjoyed, Disneyland, Universal Studios, the beach, and the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Boston was another American city that he enjoyed, and one that I don’t think enough students visit. Ahmed (and I) warn that it’s an expensive city, (so he recommends staying with a friend if you can), but according to him it has great food, and the best downtown.
He also spent some time in one of my favorite cities, Chicago. There are endless things to do in the city, you can just walk around and pretend you live there and be thoroughly entertained. He most reveled in walking near the river, and he noticed that the city was very clean, especially when compared to New York. He also thought Chicago was a little easier to navigate and he noticed how friendly everyone was.
Despite visiting all of these great cities Cleveland is his favorite city. Go Cleveland! If you’re a little curious about Cleveland I’m writing a series of articles telling you more about Ahmed’s favorite American city. The first one will be about food. People are always asking. what is American food? Well Cleveland is a foodie town and you’re going to find out why and get a better understanding of what Americans like to eat.