Mohammed Altaher is 25, and comes from Baghdad in Iraq. He is the first graduate of his university to be sent abroad to study by the Iraqi government, and has been studying at English UK member the Northumbria School of English in Whitley Bay. He is about to start his Masters course at Newcastle University.
I liked the flexibility of the school – they could start on any date I wanted. And I liked the way that they answered my emails. I also had to arrange English courses for other students from Iraq, and I had to organise things for those students. I didn't receive good responses from other places but the Northumbria School of English organised everything for me.
Also I wanted to come to the North East because we really like British culture. It's quite cheap to live here – I can buy fruit and meat and everything.
I arrived in March with English at IELTS level 3.5 and I got level 6 after two months, and level 7 in speaking. I worked very hard. I was in my room, I didn't go outside. Christine, the principal, corrected my essays every day. My spelling is very good now, and I find English people can't spell words like hobbit and maisonette – but I can.
My university course in Baghdad was in English, so I had technical English but nothing else.
I like it in Whitley Bay. I go into the bar, for example. I like buying clothes – I am very well-dressed. I like the British culture and it has a very good reputation in Iraq.
People are very friendly here. I like the transport in the UK but it's very expensive. I don't like the cold – I've just been back to Baghdad and it was warm there.
I like the weather. It means that it is not dusty. There's lots of dust in Iraq. And I like that people are always very honest.
It has changed the way I do things. I buy flowers now and I wouldn't have before.
Now I can go to Newcastle and do my Masters' in Mechatronics – it is one of only six places which offer this course. [Mechatronics is a combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, computer engineering, control engineering and systems design engineering to design, create and make useful products]. And when I go home I will be a lecturer in technology at Baghdad University.
Of course. I've already arranged for 15 more students to come to the Northumbria School of English.
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