When he first arrived in the Czech Republic to study medicine, Jamal Ayoub was just 17 years old. The early days of living somewhere completely different to what he was used to were tough on the Jordanian student as this was his first visit to Europe and the first time without his family. But within 18 months, he has got so used to it that now he plans to stay in Brno after finishing his studies.
“I was born to be a doctor. I like to help people and I like to do my best for society. And it's a well-paid job, too,” says Jamal about his motivation to become a doctor.
Towards the end of his secondary school studies, which he completed in Dubai, he learned about Masaryk University from an agency which helps students find universities in Europe. “Based on the ratings, Muni was the best option, and it was also recommended to me by a friend who’s one year older than me and was already studying in Brno,” explains Jamal.
However, the beginning was not easy. “I’ve been to many countries, but I always spoke the local language – Arabic or English. When I arrived in the Czech Republic, it was my first experience with a language barrier. It was also the first time when there was nobody else to look after me and I wasn’t quite mature enough for that.”
His age also turned out to be a more tangible problem. Because his studies in Dubai followed the American education system, he finished school at seventeen and was not yet of age. “I couldn’t find accommodation because of that and in the beginning, I stayed at a hotel with two friends from Dubai who had also come to Brno to study. They also signed some papers for me. It was nice to have them here because we helped each other get used to the new lifestyle and culture. I was lucky I was not alone,” says Jamal.
His arrival in Brno was a cultural shock for Jamal. “Everything is completely different. People think differently. Nightlife is completely different – there’s actually no such thing back home. I also don’t drink alcohol and here you automatically have a beer every time you go out,” he says with a laugh.
What he likes most about Brno are the locals. “Czechs are very open people; you can find friends as soon as you walk out of the door. I haven’t had any negative experiences with people yet. Brno as a city is also very welcoming. The only negative thing I can think of when it comes to Czechs is that they drink a bit too much,” says Jamal.
Another thing that he finds great is the local weather, compared to what he is used to: “I prefer colder climates. Dubai can get as hot as 50°C, which is almost unbearable.” And he is very happy with Brno public transport. “It is the best I’ve ever seen. As a student, I can get along without a car perfectly fine; there are a lot of connections and everything is easily accessible. In Dubai, you can only get around by car or taxi.”
“It was very hard work during my first year; I wasn’t used to studying so much. It helped me to talk to older students about how they learn and get their advice,” he says. On the other hand, English as the language of the study programme was no problem at all for Jamal as he spent part of his childhood in India and could speak English even before he learned Arabic.
Even though Jamal misses his family and Jordanian food, he is not planning to go back and would like to stay in the Czech Republic when he completes his studies: “It’s not certain whether I can get a visa. If it works out, I would like to stay here: I know the local health system, the people, and how the hospitals work. But if I can’t get a visa, I’ll go back to Jordan.”
In the future, he would like to specialise in neurosurgery or orthopaedics. As he says, “Neurosurgery is fascinating because there’s still a lot to explore and discover. As regards orthopaedics, it might sound strange, but I was always interested in the mechanics of bones and joints.”