Saturday, May 14, 2005

Work and Study

"Surely Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the hour, and He sends down the rain and He knows what is in the wombs; and no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow; and no one knows in what land he shall die; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware" verse 34 Sorat 31

"He it is Who made the earth smooth for you, therefore go about in the spacious sides thereof, and eat of His sustenance, and to Him is the return after death" verse 15 Sorat 67

These are 2 verses from the Koran that explain, as my interpretation, how human deal with today, tomorrow and work.

Gaining one's life is the most important issue for adults after school. Also it is a crucial matter when one decides to move to a new country.

Finding job in Canada is not that tough. Here I talk about work in general. I found a job one month and half after my arrival. First, I submitted my application to the Quebec Bar Association requiring a review for equivalence. Meanwhile I had to find a job to pay my billsvwhile waiting the out put of my application.

X: So how did you manage that?

I tried to apply what I had learnt during the information sessions in the Carrefour d'intégration. I prepared my résumé à la québécoise (no pic, no age..etc). I walked streets and streets looking for Help Wanted boards.

X: Have you find the job that way?

Not really!! I think it was late August. I was reading in a crowded bus when I saw an old lady. I stood up and let her take my place. After some stops there was a free seat. I sat down. Later I offered the seat for another lady. She said thank you, she did not want to sit. I got out of the bus then I went to take the underground. The lady to whom I offered my first seat was again in the same wagon. She started to talk, why she di take your seat? She meant the other old lady! She thanked me, then she started to ask questions. I told her that I just got here from Egypt and that I am looking for a job now and so on. It was a surprise because she speaks some Arabic basically with a Lebanese accent. She is a widow. Her husband was an Egyptian from Alexandria. She gave me her phone number and asked me to call if I need whatever.

X: that is nice!!

Yes, I called her later just to say hi. She was so cool. She asked me if I was still looking for a job. I said yes. She told me that one of her friends was looking for an employee. She proposed to call her. I did and that was how I found my first job.

X: This is crazy. You adjusted your CV, you walked streets and then you find your job underground!!

This is "no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow". This is what we can call in Arabic Maktoub. I did my part and the out put came from another side!!

X: What about the Bar Association?

I got the news later in October. I was surprised because they asked me to do 60 credits before the Bar's school (4 Months). I had prepared myself for 30 or maximum of 45 credits. Later I discovered that it is a standard if you have never studied Quebecer law and common law! It is a long way to do, but at that time I was in and I had to swim!!
I applied for Mcgill law school and I was happy to start the long way in January. There I met about 6 students going through the same equivalence program, but they had already started one semester before me.

X: So how is it at Mcgill?

Usually students who start in the fall session enjoy a reception from upper year's students showing them the school, facilities and so on. As I started in the winter I did not have that kind of reception, it was not fun at all. I had to find my way by myself.
Studying law at Mcgill is quite different from France. Classes are limited in number of students. There is more interaction and discussion. Professors give students courses syllabus that includes introduction, learning outcomes, obligatory course materials, course web-page, professor's contact information, class teaching format, methods of evaluation and a plan or lecture outline by class.
The course based on the jurisprudence available in the course packs usually prepared by the professor. Readings are heavy and mostly conceptual rather than doctrinal, drawing also on allied disciplines.
Many professors use webCT which is a web-page for the course where students may find more materials, submit the assignments and interact with the professor. I was surprised that students take their notes during the class on their laptops. We have wireless connection in the class and almost everywhere in the school.
There is a sense of rival between students. The session is only 3 months and we have a lot of readings and assignments so we run all the time. My study in France was relaxed and cool, I mean compared to Mcgill rhythm.
Studying law in France was so close to Egypt. The difference is again the number of students in the class, but it was basically the same. In Cairo University there was not classes only big amphitheaters.
Evaluation methods are different. At Toulouse University they mix oral exams and written exams. Both Cairo University and Mcgill rely only on written exams. At Mcgill all are open book exams. Sometimes they use take-home exams and assignments.
I prefer the McGill model, though it takes time to become familiar with it especially when you have already studied law according to another method.
A big difference was the loan/fund offered to students. It is a mechanism to finance your study. The government supplies a portion of this financing program and the rest is a loan that you pay after your studies. This is a good mechanism that does not exist in France. Permanent residents are eligible for it.
Also, there is a difference between my experience in France and Canada. While professors are not very accessible in France compared to their follows here in Canada, students in France were more accessible. I was really lucky to be with this wonderful group of DESS- juriste international promotion 2001. You are the best guys!!

X: How you feel the difference? Why this difference?

Ah for people and friendship you have to come next week to listen to my stories!!


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