From uncertainty to student presidency: Hisham’s story

INTO Glasgow Caledonian University’s President did not have the typical INTO journey. Palestinian born Hisham left his life in Saudi Arabia to come to Glasgow in January 2018 to study an International Foundation in Science. However, he soon realised a career in science wasn’t for him and changed to business studies. Here’s what Hisham had to say about his experience.

Career choice confusion

Hisham and a friend socialising at the INTO centre

When I graduated from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. My father recommended some fields of study, most of which were science. I researched courses and career options which I thought at the time would suit me best. Not once did I ask myself if I had a genuine passion for this subject. I now realise that’s the mistake I made.

Struggling with my choice

Before I left Saudi Arabia, I had doubts, and I’m going to be honest, I feel like I lied to myself. I told myself that my doubts were just nerves about my big move to Glasgow.

My first week at INTO Glasgow Caledonian University (INTO GCU) was really hard. I was nervous and quite upset because I felt really homesick. I tried to get through it by focussing on my studies. I studied harder in my first term than ever before in my life, but no matter how hard I studied, I didn’t do well and my grades suffered.

Time for change

Hisham smiling for a photo while using a laptop at university

I felt like I needed help, so I spoke to my father. He told me if I wanted to change to something that suited me better, he would support me. I gave myself two weeks to think really hard about my future and about where I saw myself in seven years’ time.

The more I thought, the more I saw a businessman. I’ve always dreamt of starting up a business. After I told my father, I went straight to the INTO GCU staff. They helped me in every way they could to support my change. So now I’m here studying an International Foundation in Business!

First year learning curve

My first year made me understand the struggles students face. In my first year, I learnt so much; how to live independently, how to balance studies and social activities, and when I should sleep in between all of this! My first year was an important learning curve, even with all the difficulties.

I believe if you want to be successful in life, you need to fail so you can learn and grow. When you make a mistake or you feel stuck, it gives you motivation to change. I’m motivated and ambitious because I don’t want to go through the same struggles as last year.

I’ll channel this energy into my presidency, and I’ll work hard to make sure students going through anything similar have the support I had to get on the right path.

Finding that work-life balance

Hisham playing pool with a friend at the INTO centre

I’m excited about the changes I can make because change is always good. I want to focus on making INTO students feel more confident in themselves and their studies, because university life is stressful and intimidating at times.

I believe entertainment is important as we need a good work-life balance. If we just study all the time and our only focus is getting good grades, then it’s easy to burn out. To prevent this, it’s good to encourage activities where students can take time to destress and have a break.

Presidential advice for students

Hisham talking to three INTO students at a table in the INTO centre

To my current and future students, I would say ‘always believe in yourself!’ Never think there are things you can’t do. If you feel like something isn’t working for you, take time to figure out what does.

For me, the beginning was my issue. I doubted myself and I didn’t want to acknowledge that my course wasn’t right for me. It was a mistake but I’m glad I went through it because now I know myself better and I can help others in similar situations.

I’m so grateful to all the students who voted for me. Without them, there’s no way I could do this!

You may also like to read 9 things to expect as a new international student in the UK or 7 reasons why studying in Scotland is amazing.

Want to study in Scotland? Find out what courses we have on offer at INTO Glasgow Caledonian University on our website.

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Ciara McAuley

My name’s Ciara and I’m a Content Editor at INTO, based in Brighton, UK. I’m a keen writer and enjoy creating inspirational content to help guide our students through INTO programmes and beyond! In my spare time, I love to try out exciting new restaurants and socialise with friends.

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