What You Should Know Before Studying Abroad


There is a lot to be said for the experience of pursuing a university degree overseas. Besides the opportunity to study advanced programs that may not be available in your home country, it undoubtedly nurtures your personality by making you more self-dependent, open to new communities, and able to embrace different cultures.

When selecting a university to join, your assessment should be based on the quality of its programs, world rank, and, of course, relevance to your potential and ambitions. More importantly, the specialization you choose should be in demand on the job market and covered by the Government Scholarship Program (if you will apply for it). You have to check if the degree can be accredited by Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

Another factor to consider when selecting your future university is the host country.
Qatari students tend to choose UK or US universities due to the excellent reputation of the higher education system in both countries. The fact that English is the official language in both countries is also a factor that allows students to integrate into campus and social life easily.
If you limit your choice to these criteria alone, you are making a mistake. The specialty you want might be available under a better program in another country. For example, medical schools in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Sweden offer excellent and unique programs in specific specialties. So, make sure to search diligently and talk to experts before making up your mind.
The following are three stories of Qatari youths who thought outside the box when planning their university education. They explain why they selected their universities, tell us about their experiences, and provide advice to those who want to make the most out of studying abroad.



Ahmed Al-Shafei

MSc Photovoltaics and Solar Energy
Faculty of Engineering
University of New South Wales

I studied electrical engineering in the UK. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I returned to Qatar to work as an electrical maintenance engineer on an offshore platform. I always had an interest in optoelectronics, a subject that I studied in my last year at university. It is common knowledge that the sun is the source of all the energy found on earth, and I was particularly fascinated by the notion that electricity can be generated directly from solar energy. It seemed imaginative! Renewable energy holds great promise for the future, and it is given special attention here in Qatar. For all the above considerations, I decided to pursue graduate studies in a solar energy major.

I chose to study for a master’s in Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Engineering at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW). As one of the world’s renowned polytechnic universities, its research department has considerably contributed to the global advances in solar energy technology. Impressively, Australia boasts entirely solar-powered industries. It was an ideal environment for studying this field.
I had no problem traveling to Australia where I spent two years studying. My family was familiar with my frequent travels, me being such a globetrotter who likes to visit many countries across the globe. Besides, I had already spent four years in the UK as an undergrad.
I passed the admission and enrolment process easily. During my study, there were no significant challenges even though the Australian university was of a much higher level than the UK one, especially in terms of curricula. It applies a project-based learning system, which requires more self-dependence.

My advice for anyone who wants to study abroad is to select a major where they are confident of performing well. Study without thinking that there is a job for you when you are back home. Do your best to outdo even the students from the host country. Remember that you enjoy more support than them. Achieving better results will boost your self-confidence.
Exploit your free time to discover the host country and socialize with other people. Build and maintain strong relationships with your professors and colleagues, even after you return to your country. Once finished, I returned to Qatar, where I now work as a teaching assistant at Qatar University (QU). I love academia and plan to continue with it. Here, I have the opportunity to teach new generations the knowledge and experience I gained. I will always remain eager to serve my country in any position and any field.



Amal Al-Kubaisi

Bachelor of Computer Science (Major in Multimedia)
Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

I am studying multimedia at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). I chose this major when I was still in middle school, as I loved programing and design from childhood. My family greatly encouraged me to pursue my ambition and study what I wanted. The support from my friends and teachers played a significant role in my conviction that this specialization best matched me.

I selected this university for many reasons. First of all, it is among the universities recognized by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Qatar. It offers a wide range of majors and sub-majors. I have found that studying multimedia caters perfectly to me. Also, the university’s facilities and research centers are very advanced. One good thing in the university is that its academic guidance department works closely with the students to improve their skills and prepare them for the job market. Moreover, the senior year involves a mandatory internship. For this purpose, the university facilitates the approval of students as interns in companies. In the beginning, it was not easy to get a scholarship from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, but I was determined to strive for my goal. At first, I enrolled at the university at my own expense until my status could be adjusted later. My number-two challenge was that there was no cultural attaché. However, H.E. Eisa Al-Mannai, former Ambassador of Qatar to Malaysia, intervened personally to solve the issues I had in my early days, until I got used to living there.

Before you select a foreign university to join, make sure it is academically prestigious, and the major you will be studying is what you seek. When studying abroad, you have to be committed, take study seriously, and be up to any difficulties you encounter. You are also advised to learn the language of the host country, as this will make your everyday life much easier, broaden your mind, and open up new horizons for your learning.
After graduation, I aspire to work as a user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designer. Both are important fields that are widely needed at present and in the future.



Rashid Abu Khadija

Bachelor in International Relations
School of International Cultural Relations
Tokai University

Believing in my potential to serve my country, my dream is to be a diplomat, as international relations is one of the specializations needed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), I tried and managed to win a government scholarship through MOFA. My choice was to study in Japan, because it has friendly relations with Qatar across the board, and it is one of the world’s most developed countries in technology, science, and culture.

I joined the International Relations Department at the School of International Cultural Relations, Tokai University, one of the top Japanese universities. The admission process was strict, due to the limited number of international students accepted by the university. But I was determined to pass the required placement tests, and I was eventually admitted. By virtue of my family’s support in every step I took, I got there.
In my first year, the biggest challenge was to adapt to the new culture. I overcame this challenge by learning Japanese, and I was lucky that the university has an institute that teaches this language. Initially, you may think that Japanese is difficult, but you can learn any language if you put enough effort into it.

From my perspective, deriving substantial benefit from studying abroad depends on your dedication and ability to integrate with the local culture. In general, seek distinction when selecting your major at university. Being a specialist in a unique field will open up opportunities for you in the labor market. If you face any difficulty in your study, never give up! Persevere, and you will get through.
After graduation, I plan to return to my country and devote myself to serving it through excellent work.