Nour Tawfiq Alhaj | 2019 – 2021 in Disaster Management

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“The road to success is not easy and not decorated with flowers. You must resist to get what you want.”

Name : Nour Tawfiq Alhaj

Origin : Palestine

Background of study : Disaster Management

Year of Graduation : 2021

I’m Nour Tawfiq Alhaj, a Palestinian woman from Gaza. I come from my country with a determination to succeed. I faced so many difficulties and every time I fell and felt like I was on the cusp of failure, I was standing up again with God’s help.

I was always sure that the difficulties I had in my life were only periods that made me stronger. I did not get to Indonesia through a road paved with flowers. Starting with my exit from Gaza and the difficulties I faced at the Rafah crossing until this moment, there are still many difficulties in my life. But I’m still fighting with all my might to prove to myself that I can complete the path I’ve chosen and make my parents proud of me.

They were the main reason I came here. With their prayers, I could get what I wanted. I got a partial scholarship to study for a master’s degree here in Indonesia. I started my college years in USK majoring in Disaster Management where I hope to learn and gain knowledge about better preparation before, during and after disaster.

When I first arrived in Banda Aceh, I was very impressed with the beauty of nature in Indonesia. During the first year of my study, I was able to participate in many activities and events held by the college. Here, I also met my fellow friends from Gambia who then became my closest friends on my two-year study journey.

Meeting friends from a different part of the world is definitely one of the highlights of my experience studying here. I also visited many places and travelled to many cities in Aceh and learned about the customs and traditions of the occasions here. Nevertheless, with the emergence of Covid 19, things began to change. For me personally, I found that online learning was the biggest challenge of all during this period. It became difficult to practice what we learn in classes as we were unable to communicate directly with the lecturers to understand the material in depth.

During my stay here, I noticed how much people in Indonesia love Palestine. When they knew that I’m a Palestinian, they would ask about my country and my family there. Everyone was always eager to know more about Palestine. They welcomed me warmly as if I was a part of their family. This is something that helps reduce the anxiety of someone who is away from their family like me. I love Indonesian food and love trying new types of food. But my biggest challenge was eating spicy food. When I attended an event where food was served, I would ask first if the food was spicy or not, and then my friends would start to laugh.

Two years were enough to change my personality a lot and broaden my knowledge in many aspects. For me, the most valuable lesson is to learn about the correct scientific methods in writing my master’s thesis and research paper. Thanks to my supervisors who always guided me through the journey of preparing for the research. They helped me go through the thesis defense examination, and finally on 25 August 2021, I reached the end of my master’s journey in which I graduated with an “A”, a Cum Laude. At the graduation ceremony, I wore the Palestinian kuffiyah. I am proud of being a Palestinian girl who graduated from this university.