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International Britain!

Ahmad Al-Attar arrived in the UK in September 2004 as one of the first Iraqi Chevening scholars to be awarded a scholarship. He has quickly settled down to life in Nottingham and wanted to share his experiences thus far.

Ahmad Al AttarThis is my first trip to abroad. After about 30 years of isolation enforced by the most malicious of tyrannical regimes, I was lucky to get a one-year scholarship to the University of Nottingham in England's 'Midlands'. Frankly, I expected to find myself one of only a few "foreigners" in this country, and I was feeling anxious and afraid of this new experience! My first surprise came in London soon after my plane touched down. I felt there was something odd! It took me a while to realise what it was, but then it stuck me: I could not find many Britons! There were people of every colour and race speaking all kinds of different languages, yet almost none spoke English!

Well, I thought that London is special and, being a huge metropolis, it must be a bit cosmopolitan as well. Actually, more than 'a bit'! But even as I settled in the beautiful city of Nottingham, I was surprised by the number of international students here. The University of Nottingham welcomed this year students from about 140 different countries! The atmosphere is great as people from all over the world meet on this country, get to know each other and, at times, become very close friends!

Many years ago, this very country brought the world together through its military might, but now it offers the world something much more humane: it is offering an opportunity to live in peace and learn how to appreciate and cherish life.

This, I thought, is what the world really needs. As people recognise and understand the diverse cultures and beliefs of different people, the prejudices dissolve and the intolerance changes into understanding. I felt that my country needed exactly that... the blessing of tolerance.

Ahmad Al-Attar

Scholar content  23rd November 2004
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