From Dubai to Canada: Our university experience | Top Universities

From Dubai to Canada: Our university experience

By Stephanie L

Updated June 15, 2021 Updated June 15, 2021

Sponsored by Canadian University Dubai (CUD)

Transfer programmes can offer unparalleled opportunities to experience a new culture, meet new people and grow as a person, all while graduating with an internationally recognised degree.

For Canadian University Dubai (CUD) graduates Faraz and Hasnain and current student Bhaanvi, this has certainly been the case.

The Canadian University Dubai offers education based on the Canadian curriculum, allowing students to start their degree with CUD in the heart of Dubai and then transfer to one of its Canadian and international partners to graduate.

TopUniversities caught up with Faraz, Hasnain and Bhaanvi to find out more about their study experiences in Dubai and Canada.

First impressions

Faraz is originally from Pakistan but grew up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He always knew that he wanted to pursue his undergraduate degree outside of the UAE. Towards the end of his high schooling, both he and his parents came to learn about CUD and its transfer to Canada opportunities.

He said: “Naturally, we felt that CUD was the right choice as it provided a portal to not only Canadian, but international education as well.”

Faraz studied business administration and transferred to Brock University in Ontario in 2015. Having never visited Canada before, Faraz wasn’t quite sure what to expect – not even with the weather.

He said: “I distinctly remember thinking about how much more pleasant the weather was as I stepped outside the airport. On a more profound level, I was excited and exhilarated for what was to come, for the next chapter in my journey.

“As the days and weeks went by, I felt more and more comfortable with the new country in which I had found myself.”

Fellow graduate Hasnain transferred to York University, also in Ontario. Like Faraz, Hasnain also remembers being excited, but it was the warm welcomes and friendliness of the locals that has stuck with him.

He said: “[I was] very excited and nervous at the same time! It was a new place, along with new people of different cultures and I didn’t know anyone yet.

“I went during the winter season which made my experience even more difficult. But the people are so nice, they can sense if you are lost or need something that would be useful to help you with. People will gladly assist you with anything to make your journey more comfortable.”

Comparing learning in Dubai and Canada

Studying at another university can be different to the style of teaching you’re used to, particularly if it’s your first time studying abroad. It’s a good opportunity though to experience different teaching and learning methods and immerse yourself in a new academic setting.

Faraz considers the first half of his studies at CUD as good preparation for studying in Canada.

Faraz said: “Academically it became slightly more challenging and demanding when I transferred to Brock, however much of this was because I had begun to specialise in finance during the second half of my business administration degree.

“It was difficult to place any expectations on what Canadian education would be like, mostly because I wasn’t aware of what this transition would entail exactly. The presence of various extra-curricular clubs and activities on campus was refreshing to see and participate in.”

Hasnain found that each university’s teaching methods and curriculums complemented each other well.

He said: “Studying in Dubai was challenging since I was majoring in computers for the first time. The professors at CUD are very professional in helping and supporting students.

“In Canada, you will be exposed to a lot of practical resources needed to join the workforce there.”

Originally, Bhaanvi was due to transfer to the University of New Brunswick (UNB) last year, however due to the coronavirus pandemic she was unable to travel as planned. She is hopeful that she will be able to transfer this coming autumn instead.

In the meantime, Bhaanvi has been able to attend classes virtually which she says has been fun and enabled her to make new friends along the way.

Making lifelong friends and having new experiences

One of the main perks (and attractions) of transferring to another university is all the people you will meet – some of whom might become lifelong friends as well as the opportunity to experience different cultures and perspectives.

Although Bhaanvi has not yet had the opportunity to study in Canada, while studying at CUD she did join the student council and various other extracurricular activities. She says this helped her realise there is more to university than just studying.

“For years, I was just focused on being a bookworm and acing my exams. 

“Balancing out things in life is always important. I made some amazing friends at CUD and memories which I will cherish for life.”

Support whenever and wherever it’s needed

The prospect of transferring to another university in another country is exciting but it can also be a daunting and stressful process. Fortunately for Faraz, Hasnain and Bhaanvi, help was at hand whenever and wherever they needed it.

Faraz said: “One of the transfer co-ordinators at CUD provided all the necessary information to successfully complete the process of transferring to Brock. In addition to demystifying the whole undertaking, they also assisted with the university application.

“The fact that CUD has established relationships with universities in Canada which allow for students to transfer their credits abroad is what makes this all possible to begin with.”

Bhaanvi agrees: “CUD provided me support in all aspects. My transfer co-ordinator guided me throughout the process. From helping me pick transferrable courses at CUD to shortlisting and applying to universities, they had my back throughout the process.

“The registration department had sent in all my documents to the universities in a timely manner and made sure I hadn’t missed out on any deadlines either.”

Words of wisdom

Faraz, Hasnain and Bhaanvi all agree that being able to spend your degree studying at two universities is an exciting and challenging, life-changing opportunity – and for prospective students who may be looking for similar opportunities, they offer some parting words of wisdom. 

“If it is an option that is feasible considering your circumstances, I would strongly recommend you do it. I think it’s an unbeatable investment that will pay dividends for the rest of your life. However, it will only be so if you truly leverage all the opportunities that are presented to you and really make the most of your international education,” said Faraz.

Bhaanvi and Hasnain agree.

Bhaanvi said: “I would say ‘go for it!’ Stepping out of your comfort zone may seem like a tough decision. Leaving your friends and family isn’t easy and university applications can be a tough process. However, students at CUD are lucky because we are guided throughout the process and our whole transition from CUD to a university in Canada is an amazing experience.

“Going to a new country, meeting new people, and learning from professors with different styles of teaching is an altogether wonderful experience.”

Hasnain said: “Be ready to learn and explore. One needs to have the passion to learn different things while studying the major courses at the same time. Also, explore different routes of your current journey. Join university competitions that will help you succeed in the future – it will give you the edge that will help you be unique amongst others in your field.”

Want to know more? Watch this video and see what Ebtisam Afrand, a transfer student at Concordia University has to say about her experience studying in Canada.

This article was originally published in June 2021 .

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for and (until September 2021), Stephanie created and published a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.


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