September 2018: Asking Ahmed

He's the friendly face at IELP orientations who can give you the scoop about everything from authentic shawarma to mechanical engineering.


Name: Ahmed Aljandal

Country: Saudi Arabia (Riyadh, capital city)

Program: IELP


IELP: Hey, Ahmed! Can you tell me how you came to Temple?


AHMED: When I was a child, I thought about studying abroad but my parents said they couldn’t afford it. Then I got a scholarship. My father had been in Philadelphia a few times before, and he told me that it was a beautiful place. I see myself going to college here.


IELP: If I only had 24 hours to spend in Saudi Arabia, what would you tell me to see or do?


AHMED: In the capital, we have a lot of restaurants – more than Philadelphia actually. The most popular food is Middle Eastern food, but Indian food is very popular. We also have Japanese restaurants, American restaurants, all kinds of restaurants. We have something for every budget. Shawarma is very expensive here, but in Saudi Arabia it’s like $1. The sauces, the bread, and the chicken are different in Saudi Arabia.


IELP: What’s the best thing you’ve seen or done in the U.S. so far?


AHMED: The best thing I did in the U.S. was go to Ocean City with my friends in the IELP. It was incredible. I went to the boardwalk and bought some clothes from the shops.


IELP: Can you teach me to say something in Arabic?


AHMED: السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ (As-salamu alaykum) is how you say “hello” in Arabic.


IELP: What are some of things you’ve learned from going to school with people from so many different countries?


AHMED: I know about a lot of other cultures and languages from my friends. Like in Japanese, I Iearned they don’t have a plural in their language. If there is a chair, they say “chair” whether it’s one or more than one. In Arabic, we have singular, we have a word for a couple, and if it’s three or more, we use the plural.


IELP: How long have you been studying English?


AHMED: I started learning English in middle school, but it was just because I had to. In high school, I started to learn English as a second language. The IELP classes have helped me a lot. Six months ago, I could hardly make a sentence in English without grammar mistakes.


IELP: You’ve been a volunteer at IELP orientations. Tell me what that is like.


AHMED: Orientation is an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Afterward when the students see you on the street, they will greet you, and sometimes hang out with you at parties.


IELP: What are your plans for after you graduate? Do you want to return to your home country?


AHMED: I want to be a mechanical engineer and work in the capital of Saudi Arabia like my dad. He is working on designing something that brings water from the sea to the capital. We’re in the middle of the desert, so it has to travel 1000 km.


IELP: What’s something you would tell students thinking of coming to the U.S.?


AHMED: I was afraid before I came here because I would miss my family and friends. It was my first time outside Saudi Arabia alone, and I was homesick for the first three days. But at the IELP I made friends. All the people are so kind. All of my friends came from other countries so they are in the same situation that I’m in. I saw that they were happy and adjusted, so I had to do what they did.


Give Ahmed a wave if you see him on campus or at the next orientation!