Almost one month since my arrival, things today are totally different that what I used to do one month back for the past 16 years. (I know I keep ranting about this thought, but trust me this is the hardest element of my experiment) . On my way to the university this morning, I recalled that moment when my wife convinced me to take serious steps towards enrolling in a graduate school. I recall that moment, when I read the program requirements and finding out that GRE with a certain score is one of these requirements.
Back in the 90’s, I overheard some of my senior fellow students talking about the GRE and how hard it was, I never attempted to look at it to test myself. I had humble academic ambitions back then, except for earning some good grades and graduating to start my professional phase.
On that day (in 2013) when I started looking at the GRE, I looked around to be more familiar about the test, what sort of skills it checks, so I started by surfing Youtube for some superficial ideas. During that phase of the preparation, I had a strategy of placing myself under continuous motivations; watching the PHD Movie, watching some promotional videos about life in the University of Alberta, and changing AED 350 into Canadian Dollars and placing them in a jar on my desk where I studied. Later on, I went to my local Jareer Bookstore where I purchased an excellent test preparation kit, to get ready for this exam.
I watched the accompanying DVD first, and prepared for this step emotionally, which turned out to be the hardest step in taking this exam. I kept reading and studying for 40 days, and kept reminding myself that I will do my best in this exam, but if somehow I did not achieve the required score, then I will try next year or a couple of months after, looking at the bright side that this might be a positive thing from the financial aspect.
Three weeks after I started preparing for the test, I booked the test date, so that I force myself not to procrastinate anymore. That was one of the tips provided by the book.
On the test day, I went to the test venue, I was somehow nervous, but managed to have relatively decent scores; I achieved a score higher than required in the arithmetic part, and close to the required score in analytical writing. And thanks to the guys at the university for allowing me in with such score.
Meanwhile, another important step was to look for references. Trust me this step is harder than taking the GRE exam. The reason is that I had to remember who taught me what, at what year and then I started looking for contacts. This step alone was around three months long. I was so disparate to find references I spoke to all those I know who had relation with my undergraduate university. Gradually, references became stronger and I ended up securing more than double the references required.
I sincerely owe to all professors and managers who wrote reference letters.
Meanwhile, I had to secure some documents as part of acceptance requirements; Certificate of Completion, Transcript and later on, a document to certify that my medium of study was in English.
I submitted all required documents and waited anxiously, for good three months, hoping for a positive answer, and so it was. That moment was a turning point in my perception for a dream so remote so far fetched to become a few administrative steps away. I received my first unofficial acceptance letter in April, and then things went south, when the administration advised me that my documents are incomplete; I foolishly submitted a General IELTS score instead of an Academic one. To cut to the chase, they advised me that it is too late to have an Academic test, so I sent them the medium of study that exempt me from having an English proficiency test again (Praise to my Lord).
A few days later, I received my official acceptance letter, I was thrilled, my coworkers could see the excitement in my eyes, including senior managers who gave me all the support required to complete my academic journey. Somehow I feel obliged to succeed in this experiment because of all those people who cooperated with me to make this happen.