This post is intended to help prospective students, who would like to apply to the University of Sharjah, gear up both mentally and physically for the epic ride that’s ahead of you.
As an international student myself, I found it really hard to find sufficient information on the University thousands of kilometers away. So I thought it would help to share some of the important things that I’ve learnt the -somewhat-hard way. Hopefully it would help you decide whether UOS is the ideal university for you, and perhaps ease the process of your admission.
Inshaa’Allah this post will be the first in a series of posts.
If you’re an international student, the dorm is probably the most important part of campus for you. It’s basically gonna be your home for a good 3 and half months or so. I can only speak for the main dorms on the women’s campus, so you might have to search elsewhere for accurate information on the experience in other dorms like the Medical/Mens’ dorms.
If you go to the UOS website > Life on Campus > Student Life, you’ll see this:
“Safe and friendly atmosphere”
The dorm compound has 2 gates, each of which has a guard post. From 5pm onwards, you have to sign in and out at your own dorm block’s reception, as well as the guard post, telling them to which part of campus you will be heading.
Each dorm block has 1 or 2 ladies everyone calls “madams” that are seated at the reception. They are supposed to ensure that no one besides dorm girls enter the block, take your attendance every night, tend to admin issues, as well as give you basic medication like Panadol if you need it.
It is quite annoying that you can’t bring friends from university into your room, according to the rules. But you can get away with it sometimes 😛 Just make sure your friend leaves before 5pm. They do allow them to come into the TV room though, but not into the rooms.
As with any place, you’ll meet some friendly and not-so-friendly people. You’ll learn to develop people-management skills over time as you deal with difficult dorm mates/madams/roommates. Inshaa’Allah you will meet some nice people who will be there to help you and fill you in on the things you need to know about the university. But you have to go out and make the connections, don’t just sit around and wait.
“Conducive to Academic Achievement”
Perhaps. If you push for certain things and are wary of the schedules, the dorm can be a place where you can focus.
For example, when I first came to my room, I had a small study table that had 2 “shelves” that were not even big enough to hold A4 size books. As I started going to my friends’ rooms in other blocks, I saw that they had huge tables compared to mine, with drawers and big shelves. Thus began my fight to get one for myself. You should contact the dorms’ maintenance supervisor directly if you want to request for such things. The madam at your block most likely won’t be of much help, as was in my case.
Each dorm has a computer lab that is open only on certain days of the week at specific times. You are allowed to go to the other dorm blocks to use the computer lab if yours is closed. Take a snapshot of the schedule that is pasted outside the lab. Oh yeah, printing is only in black and white in the dorms, and you have to bring your own printing paper. You are not charged for the number of pages you print. Though the computers have internet connection most of the time, you may need to use your flash drive once in a while when the internet is down. Also, computer labs don’t open on public holidays.
“Close proximity to the University classrooms”
Yes, this is one of the benefits. Unless, you are a fine arts student. Then you would have to take the university shuttle bus to the fine arts campus. They don’t have a separate dorm for the fine arts students on their own campus. It doesn’t take that long, just a few minutes in the bus.
There are 8 dorm blocks, A to H.
Dorm A and Dorm E are the dorms closest to one of the 2 gates of the compound.
Dorm A is closest to the Student Centre and the building W3. It’s the most centralised dorm in terms of distance to the two ends of the campus. From what I’ve seen, Dorm A is the oldest but biggest dorm (in terms of the size of the room).
Dorm E is the closest to W1 and the gym.
There is a shuttle bus that comes every 10 minutes or so to take you to different parts of campus if you don’t wanna walk.
You should ask to see what each dorm is like before choosing which block you want to stay in, to see what best suits your needs/tastes.
There is a common kitchen that has a stove, microwave and oven. Dorm rooms do not have ovens or microwaves provided. They do have an electrical stove each though. If you can afford it, get your own microwave. It’ll save you the walk to the kitchen/corridor (sometimes they put it in the corridor cuz students find it easier to access it there) every time you want to eat. Also, the microwave can come in really handy (more tips in a future post inshaa’Allah).
“Multi-purpose activity room”
Hmmm…my dorm doesn’t have that. Not sure about the other ones though.
It’s a room full of tables like the ones in your rooms, and chairs 😛 Yes people use it, especially during exam periods. Some people hog the entire room to themselves by closing the door! Be bold and just enter if you need to…it’s a common space.
“Laundry and dry-cleaning services”
For the past 2 semesters, such services have been non-existent 😛
Each dorm has a laundry room though, with common washing machines and dryers. Bring your own detergents. I recommend to use laundry nets for small clothes, and to set an alarm to make sure you come back in time to empty your clothes from the washing machine/dryer, because other students will remove them so that they can use it too.
Some peeps wash their shoes in those machines too Bleh.
And some peeps are sooo impatient that they remove your clothes even before the cycle is complete!!! Grrr… some of my friends’ clothes were still wet when their clothes had been taken out early by such inconsiderate dorm mates. So keep a watchful eye out.
Also be warned, I would recommend not to bring fancy and delicate clothing to the dorms, in the possible event that the washing machine isn’t working properly. Happened to me numerous times, the washing machine couldn’t drain the water or kept on repeating the cycle, so some of my clothes got ruined.
“All dorms offer free highspeed WIFI to students”
Ok I’m done.
Yes there is wifi in places like the study room and the TV room. Sometimes it can be highspeed, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s not even there. There is hardly any/no wifi connection in the rooms. You would have to bring your own Ethernet cable to plug into your laptop. Talk to your dorm mates to see how they survive no wifi in their own rooms 😉 It’s kind of a secret, cuz it’s against the rules.
“Visitors are welcome during visiting hours”
Not sure if they are talking about visitors to the university or visitors to your room 😛 As I mentioned earlier, according to the rules, you can’t bring non-dorm friends into your rooms. But where there is a will, there is a way 😉
Also besides the first day you move into your room, your female relative won’t be able to come to your room/help you take your things to your room. I tried and failed.
Other Useful Information:
Grocery Shopping Trips
Every week they take the international students to a nearby mall in the evening for about 2 hours, so you can do your weekly grocery shopping there at Carrefour. I would recommend to buy 2 weeks worth of food, so as to avoid the uncomfortable bus trips. They pack you like sardines in a can, and it’s quite troublesome to carry all your bags up and down the bus.
Buy a freezer bag to keep your frozen/fridge food cold, sometimes you end up waiting a long time to go back to university.
Student Centre Convenience Store
You can get some necessities from there, but in terms of fresh food, it’s quite limited. You have to make sure you come on the day that the fresh produce is delivered, so that you can grab the good stuff before they are all gone.
Fresh produce include apples, bananas, berries. mushrooms, cucumbers, onions, garlic, potatoes, lettuce, capsicum, tomatoes, and the occasional cauliflower and broccoli.
Remember to always check the expiry dates on the long-shelf life food items, even in Carrefour. They often keep the food there till they are just about to expire.
Big Mall Trips
Every week, on Fridays, the dorms arrange to take the international students to one of the major malls in the country, like Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Festival City etc. It’s a whole-day affair, so you’ll leave around the late morning, and come back at night. It’s optional of course, and there’s a fee to pay of about AED 25 if I’m not mistaken.
For your fellow dorm mates who actually live in the country, they get to go to these big malls on Wednesday. You can join them too, but you won’t be able to go on Friday then for that week.
The dorm also arranges trips to other places of interest, the most frequent one being Global Village. If you want to go with your non-dorm friends, you can sign up for the trips that Student Affairs arrange. Initially those trips were meant for only non-dorm students, until a certain loud-mouth went and made noise, so that dorm students can join as well. You’re welcome 😉
International students get a weekly taxi pass, that is, if your parent/guardian who registers you at the dorm gives his/her consent. With the pass, you can leave as early as 8am, but you have to return by 10.30pm.
Be warned, if you are staying in one of the “smaller” dorms, they will move you the big dorms like Block C and D during holidays that last for more than a week. That includes long Eid holidays and Summer vacation. So if your taking the summer session, you would be moved.
But they don’t make you move during the study breaks before exams Alhamdulillah.
Go to block D…my friends and I didn’t have amazing experiences in block C.
You have to be physically in your dorm block by 12am, but some blocks seem to allow you to wander the dorm compound till 1am. The earliest you can leave the block to wander around the compound is 5am.
But if your authorised guardian wants to pick you up, he/she can come at any time.
Don’t Trust So Readily
If you have roommates, you may want to keep all your valuables away in your closet, and lock it before you leave your room. It’s better to be on the safe side, until you really trust your roommate. Also, the dorm has a master key/card, so people can enter your room for maintenance if you are not around to open the door yourself.
Also, when the helpers come to clean your room once a week, watch them while they do so, just to be on the safe side.
Write your name and university ID number on important things too, if possible.
For the Bug-Haters
Cockroaches and weird drain worm things are common, so I’ve come up with a way to fortify my room against them. Here’s a few things you need:
-A laundry net, approx. 30cm x 20cm
-Cockroach repellent gel
-Drain catchers for the sinks
The bathroom has a vent, which is an entrance for such unwanted visitors. First, squeeze drops of the anti cockroach gel into the open parts of the vent, then use the masking tape and cover the vent with the laundry net.
Next, put drain catchers in your bathroom sink and kitchen sink. When not in use, cover the bathtub drain with the plug provided.
Squeeze the gel around the kitchenette.
If you are able to, buy the anti-insect paper to line your kitchen cupboards, to prevent all kinds of bugs from nestling there.
Other things you may want to buy for your room
Make sure you take a look at your room when you register, so that you have an idea as to what supplied you would need to buy.
These are my suggestions:
-Retractable bathroom shower curtain rail
–Door hangers…something like this
Comes in very handy due to the lack of places to hang your clothes. You can find these in shops like Daiso.
–Baskets…lots of them. Some with hooks for your bathroom to keep your stuff in, especially if you have roommates. Some for your kitchenette to keep all your things in etc.
–Table lamp. Unless you want to go to the study room every time your roommate wants to sleep. It’s also handy if you need to wake up at night for whatever reason and you don’t want to disturb your roommate by switching on the big lights.
–Fluns. You can get cheap cardboard ones from IKEA.
–Small clothes hanger
Very handy to hang your small clothes.
–Big water jug…there’s a water dispenser in the corridor. Saves you the many trips to refill your water bottle.
–Microwave, if you can afford it.
–Cleaning supplies. It depends on how big a neat freak you are. They do clean your room once a week, but in my opinion they don’t really clean that well.
–Bed-bug spray…I’d recommend you spray the mattress, the bed frame, and even the curtain when you first move in.
I really hope this post was of some benefit to you guys. Feel free to share/comment.