Ahmad Aleses: “Education is your weapon in this modern world”

Ahmad from Jordan, who is determined to achieve his goals and reach self-actualization, came to live in Estonia seven years ago. He was born and raised in Amman – the capital of Jordan. However, he is also a Palestinian citizen – his mother is Palestinian, born and raised in Bethlehem.

After he finished his Bachelor degree in risk management and insurance from the Hashemite University of Jordan, Ahmad started his career just like any fresh graduate person, trying to find the market fit and build a career from there. Nevertheless, something felt incomplete. And so, he thought of what his parents always taught him – “Education is your weapon in this modern world”. So, he took their advice and decided to continue his higher education, which is something none of his siblings had done and something his parents always wanted one of their kids to do.

Ahmad. Photo: Ahmad

“How did I end up here in Estonia? To be honest, ask Google! While browsing the internet, I stumbled onto the “Study in Estonia” webpage. I was like, hmm, where is Estonia, what is Estonia anyway?! I had never heard of Estonia before, sorry. Excuse my limited geography knowledge, but Estonia is a little tiny country on the map. Yet I’ve got to admit that there is more to countries than the geographic land size” he started.

He applied to study at Tallinn University of Technology – now known as TalTech. “Once I received my enrollment letter, I had to proceed further, get my visa, and start my higher education journey. In my country, there’s no Estonian embassy, so I had to travel to the nearest country to apply for D-visa and come to Estonia. That was my first time ever applying for a visa, and it was kind of risky” he continues.  When applying for a visa, you need to have certain criteria met, like insurance, flight ticket to the final destination, certain amount of funds in your bank account, etc. Second, he was not sure if he would be granted the visa or not, so that meant that there was still chance for him to be refused.
He moved to Ankara, stayed there for 2 weeks, applied for the visa, and bought two flight tickets – one going to Riga, the other going back home. Luckily, he got his visa just one day before his flight was scheduled to take place.

“When you really ask for education there should be no limits, you go and do what it takes to get it. Hence, always stand by your inner thoughts, go after what you want. It might not be easy, but if it was, then it would have been achievable by many others, and that makes it less special” Ahmad shares.

Ahmad. Photo: Ahmad

Student life in Estonia

Student life in Estonia is full of activities and events. There are many organizations that help foreign students to settle into Estonian life and create a social network in the country. “The school administration made it really easy to blend in. I remember that newbies are assigned to local students who will help you out with settling in, answering your questions, etc. In addition, there are the orientation days, which also help to understand how the system works and what is expected from you as a student” he says.

The main education difference, in his opinion, is that in Estonia, you have more freedom regarding how you receive the education. For example, you can do your classes online from anywhere, you do not have to be in the lecture room every time. In addition, the teaching methods in Estonia guide you to rely more on self-education, which means you are given the right articles, and tips and hints to find information for yourself, rather than given the full knowledge by teachers.

Graduation. Photo: Ahmad

Being far from home

Like most of the international students, he misses some food items from his home country. There are certain spices that you cannot find in Estonia, unfortunately.  “As a foodie person, I learned how to cook our own traditional food. I also had the chance to get to know the local food and explore many others in the region. I’m also known for my sweet tooth, that is why I have my own small online business in Estonia” he says.

What he really likes about Estonians is how people respect time. “I personally am the same way, but some cultures in the Arab region interpret this quite loosely. For example, if you say to be there at 12:00, this could mean anywhere from 12:00 to 12:30” he laughs. “So, this is something we can work on and improve, time is precious and we should respect each other’s time” he adds.

Future plans

Ahmad works in Change Invest, which is a rapidly growing FinTech providing everyone in Europe access to exciting investments - from crypto and stock investing to cash management and investor debit cards. All through a fully mobile solution. “At the moment, I have focused my energy and career to grow with my current, and the best, employer – Change Invest. I see my present and future here. I’m certain that together with our current team, becoming the next Estonian unicorn is merely a matter of time! Go ChangeMakers!” Ahmad added confidently.

Best memories in Estonia

“Estonia has exceeded my expectations in many positive ways. Although you will hear that Estonia is cold and so are the people, I don’t think that is 100% true. Estonians are conservative, and respect other people’s space, but once you melt this small iceberg and burst this “shy privacy” bubble, consider yourself welcomed into their group, family, and life. People are different of course, and you might find it difficult to fit in. Therefore, learning the language will help a lot” he says.

Estonian nature is picturesque and vibrant, it has the most wonderful forests, bogs, and wild-life. There are many things you’d only experience here in the north of Europe only, like endless daytime in summertime, aurora lights AKA northern lights – though not everywhere, still, you are offered this chance to experience it.