BZU is an obvious beacon of education for all kinds of young adults that come from various backgrounds. As a second year student at the university who grew up with the English language as my first, I have a pretty hilarious take on what us native English speaking students go through on a daily basis. Here are 7 basic struggles that we face in a nutshell:

  • Pure shock is amusingly shared by everybody around us when we answer a phone call in English while riding in the transportation fords to Birzeit in the morning. We might know how to speak Arabic, but English just seems easier at 7:30 a.m.Answering phone
  • Five minutes into a lecture that is instructed in Arabic, we naturally write down the Arabic title of the lesson in English on our notes, regretting our decision almost immediately when students next to us bombard us with questions. “What’s that word?” “What is this, English?” Yes, yes it is. 

    Writing notes

  • In the process of writing notes in an English-instructed lecture, we are well aware of neighboring students copying our words. If we don’t notice at first, we will find out eventually when someone taps us on the shoulder, asking what the word written in cursive means.
    copying someone
  • Reading anything English out loud is easy up until everyone in the lecture turns to stare at us. 


  • Everyone makes mistakes; sometimes even professors. If we don’t correct their rare grammatical errors, other students will glance our way to confirm that something needs to be fixed. Not all heroes wear capes, right?


  • When we are out and about on campus speaking to friends in English- the language we find most comfortable- it is quite normal to hear the occasional “oh my God!” “yes, yes!” “no, no!” “very good, very good!” “really?”  coming from random passers-by. It is really, truly, very normal indeed.Very good
  • This has to be our all-time favorite situation: cheating on exams is obviously not allowed in the university or anywhere in general, but there are always some students who bend the rules. They come to take a test and sit close to smart students in hopes of getting the perfect grade. What is hilarious is being in a test administered in Arabic and hearing someone let out a not-so-subtle sigh of frustration as they notice English words written down on the paper. We’re sorry?

Writing in English

Speaking English fluently does have its perks. However, it’s not always simple using a language that’s simple to us. Hopefully our experiences will somehow gradually normalize the presence of native English speakers in an Arabic academic environment in the future. Until then, feel free to visit to a Chinese University. There is a high probability that you’ll deal with similar encounters whether you prefer English or Arabic.

Foreign students in Birzeit University

Foreign students in Birzeit University

Have you experienced any of these adventures before? Tell us your story!