We met with Mhairi Newlands, a Caregiver from the UK. Mhairi is a UG Arabic alumni studying for Arabic and French at the University of Edinburgh. In an interview with Mhairi, we asked her the following questions:
Tell us about yourself
I’m from just outside of Glasgow and currently live in Edinburgh. I went to the University of Edinburgh and graduated in Arabic and French in 2018. I’m currently working as a CAREGiver with Home Instead Senior Care, but also do some extensive volunteering with the Welcoming Association in Edinburgh.
How long have you been studying Arabic? What is your current level?
I spent 4 years studying Arabic at University and I am continuing to use it with my volunteering. I would say that I am proficient in Arabic and very comfortable in using colloquial Arabic on a regular basis.
What made you decide to study the Arabic language and culture? What & who inspired you? What were your motivations?
I have always enjoyed learning new languages and decided that I wanted to pick up a new language during my time at university. I also wanted a challenge!
Have you had any ups and downs while learning Arabic?
The first year of learning Arabic was a difficult learning curve, but my entire language learning experience at university was mostly a positive one!
What careers are you planning to pursue (or have embarked on) using your Arabic language skills?
Whilst my current job doesn’t require Arabic language skills, I use them on a weekly basis during my volunteering with the Welcoming Association. I work mainly with Syrian refugees and help out at a women’s group and swimming club. I also do home visits, and occasional interpreting and translation for the association. I’m hoping to go into social work at a later stage, ideally working as a refugee support worker, which would allow me to continue using my Arabic
What does it take to become an excellent student of Arabic? What recommendations would you give to anyone interested in learning Arabic?
Perseverance!! I would also really recommend finding an Arabic language partner as the best way to improve and learn more is to practice with a native speaker.
What’s your favourite Arabic word?
I say حلو a lot!
What is your least favourite Arabic word? Why?
Who’s your most inspiring Arab personality?
Nawal El Saadawi
What is your favourite place in the Arab World?
What is your favourite Arabic quote?
I don’t have a favourite quote but my favourite phrase in amiyyeh is ‘دير بالك على حالك’ which translates to take care of yourself
What is your favourite book? Why?
My favourite Arabic book is The Hidden Face of Eve by Nawal El Saadawi, because I think it is a very powerful, feminist book.