So, this week I went back to school. I am at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) trying to find out whether I can (or want to) go back to university to do a DBA or PhD. More of how I got here later, but in the meantime...
I am in a class room in a modern university building on the edge of the desert in Dubai. We sit behind small desks, in closer proximity than strangers on a train, a bunch of postgraduates from Oman, Eygpt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, everywhere. Some of us are just thinking about this, some have started the journey before, even some who did not succeed the first time but want to try again. How different are we really?
Despite all our different origins and stories, we fall, it seems into two basic camps: those who want to learn and those who just want to pass a exam. Like me, most have come for what this course provides, the chance to prepare for something bigger but also to test our wings before we have to fly alone. None of us is set on the final goal, but all of us searching (more inside than out) for what we might be capable of.
Taking us on this journey is Professor Abigail Marks, Head of Research for EBS. Abigail navigates the path between teaching us what we need to understand to do a research qualification and what will be in the exam. Interestingly, in a room where only two of us has English as their first language, it is not language that proves the greatest challenge so much but sentences. For the scientists and engineers in the room, philosophical concepts are not the issue so much as the way they are expressed. As soon as the sentence is reduced to a flowchart, they relax!
Meanwhile, outside our classroom, normal student life goes on...(to be continued)