A Year of Fulbright Life: Mohamed Al’s Story

For the next year, Fulbright MENA will be showcasing a handful of students as they study in the United States with their new series, A Year in the Fulbright Life. Each month, spotlighted students will share an update as they continue on their Fulbright journey.

August 2019

This was a private gig-themed farewell and birthday party. My invitees (family, close friends, and colleagues) didn’t know what to expect from this party. They knew something was cooking but didn’t know what exactly. I started off by making a quick speech about turning 25 and leaving Bahrain to chase my next chapter.

Soon after, I introduced my bandmates, picked my drumsticks, sat on my throne and we started playing top hits from the early 2000s. I somehow felt that my bandmates and I turned into 5-year old kids who overdosed on sugar while we were behind our instruments, it was such a strange feeling. Whenever the band takes a break, we had an activity. We had a standup comedy segment, open mic, karaoke, and dinner throughout the set list. After having dinner, we turned the lights off and started dancing until it got super sweaty and tiring. Finally, we jumped in the pool and continued our celebration there. it was a truly spectacular night that everyone is going to remember me for! I’ll make sure to invite the same people in the same place for my homecoming party in two years!

My band and I performed 4 songs including an original that wasn’t played live nor recorded yet. The atmosphere was electrifying and there was so much energy in the room, mainly because no one has ever seen me nor my band perform before. In fact, people barely knew I had a band and I can tell that their expectations were pretty low given how I rarely talk about my bandmates or what happens when we practice.

September 2019

This is my first ever photo on campus. It was great to finally see the dragon statue that Drexel is famous for in real life! I was not planning to take any pictures that day, but the moment I saw the statue I asked a young man who was volunteering on campus to take this picture of me and he agreed immediately!

Another picture from my first visit to the campus. You can see some of the iconic buildings of Philadelphia only a few blocks away from the campus! It feels great to be located in the heart of the city.

My roommate and I went to a Martin Garrix concert a couple of weeks ago. Besides the awesome beats and the youthful atmosphere, this was a great way to interact with Drexel students and get to know them outside of the classroom!

I also took this photo (or picture) with a student from UPenn as part of the Welcome Week activities for new residents at Good Food Flats, which is where I’m living with other university students.

October 2019

This was my first ever Halloween party in the United States! It’s crazy how everyone around me was very interested in joining even though everything was organized at the last minute, which tells you a lot about how people in Philly love to break their daily routines!

March 2020

I performed with the percussion ensemble for the second time in an almost sold-out concert at Drexel University’s Mandell Theater. I was featured on most of the songs on the setlist, where I played the electric guitar in “YYZ” (a tribute to Rush’s late drummer Neil Peart) and “wannabe” which is an original composition by me.

I also played the drum kit in “A Fifth of Beethoven,” the darbuka in “Beethoven in Havana,” the buckets in the “Drexel Bucketeers Routine,” and danced with a professional guest dance group.

I participated at the 2nd annual Marketing Crises Challenge at Drexel University. It’s a challenge for graduate and MBA students at Drexel in which a company presents a “crises” scenario and lets students figure out the best way to address the situation in the media and other public relations resources. Unfortunately, my team finished in close second, but we had a lot of fun.

Mohamed is a first-year Fulbright student from Bahrain. He is studying economics and public policy at Drexel University.

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