Everyone, meet Talal Al Hajri.
Talal comes to us from Dammam, Saudi Arabia, a city close to the waters of the Persian Gulf. He has studied here at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) for approximately one year. At the young age of nineteen, Talal seems to know where he is going and is determined to meet his goals.
Talal grew up watching American movies and TV programming, which introduced him to English as American culture.
“I used to watch these films that were from America and I knew that someday I was going to learn English and travel to the United States to study,” Talal said. “One day I just told my parents that my dream was to do this after graduating high school. They were happy for me and very supportive. I know my dad was especially happy because he had the opportunity to study in America, too.”
When Talal has free time, he enjoys playing ping-pong (in the student dorms), basketball and soccer with the friends he has made while attending CESL. Something that may surprise you about Talal is his love of old-school hip-hop music. “Most people wouldn’t think but I enjoy listening to all the older rap music. My favorites are Dr. Dre, Eminem and Snoop Dog,” confessed Talal.
Talal has high hopes after he completes his time here at CESL. “I know that I want to continue on at OU and study Law,” Talal said. “I look forward to being an attorney one day. I’m not real sure which area of law I would like to specialize in yet but I think that Family Law and Criminal Law would interest me the most.”
While Talal admits it has been challenging living in a new country and being a student at the same time, he is proud of himself for gaining new skills that he didn’t have before he left home. “Living on my own has made me learn about money,” Talal said. Back home, I never knew how to spend money or how to save money. Now I can live on a budget and it’s made me more responsible.”
Often times, our current students have some of the best advice for future students out there wishing to come to America and study English. When asked what wisdom he wishes he could share with those who may still be at home in their native country and thinking about coming to CESL he replied, “the thing you have to remember is that learning a new language takes a long time. Don’t worry if you’re not learning quickly or doing well at first. You just have to study hard and not give up. Be patient and you will reach your goal, just like I am doing." He went on to say, “if I could change one thing about the world today, I would make things to where everyone could have an education no matter how much money they had. Even if they were very poor with no money, they could still have an education.”
When asked what Talal wants people to know about his people back home in Saudi Arabia, he said, “we are kind and we are generous. We are very nice people.”