#WeAreInternational Alumni Stories 

Wendy Ouali

North Africa region, Algeria, English Literature and Language, Class of 1968

Wendy met her Algerian husband, Tarik, in Sheffield, married him a year after graduating and moved to Algeria with him where she wrote books about being British in Algeria.Wendy-Ouali

Extracts from her book:
“The Arts Tower at Sheffield University had been completed in 1964, and the students in our year had, in fact, been the first to attend lectures there. It had seemed all shiny and new when I had timidly walked through the front doors into the atrium at the beginning of my first year in October 1965.

During our first few weeks in Sheffield, we had noticed that there were groups of foreign students in the Students' Union. There were Greeks, Jamaicans, Americans, the French and those from various Arab countries, including Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Helen told me that they were a group of Algerian students, sent over to study engineering for their country’s nascent oil and gas industry. The Students' Union was a wonderful place, because it enabled students from all the different faculties to meet and socialise. It had, in fact, been the place where, the preceding November, he had brought his cup of tea to sit at a nearby table and had spoken to me for the first time.

One evening at the beginning of November, a young man carrying a cup of tea came over to sit next to Helen and me in the Upper Coffee Lounge. I guessed that he was one of the foreign students, because he had an indefinable accent – French, and yet not French. He made none of the usual mistakes in pronunciation – not a “zis” or a “zat” to be heard. In fact, his English was surprisingly good. He made some silly joke about turning into an Englishman because of his choice of hot drink. Throwing him an exasperated look, I stood up impatiently, told my friend that I was going to work in the Library and stalked off without a backward glance. I could feel his eyes following me as I walked out of the door.

He was nothing if not persistent, however.”

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