One year after the outbreak of war, Hekmat Dabbas left his homeland Syria. First, he studied in the Czech Republic before he came to the Technical University of Munich a year ago. He is a student of Transportation Systems and was granted a “Deutschlandstipendium”. In an interview with TUMstudinews reporter Sabrina Czechofsky, he talks about his time in Syria, his new life in Munich and his goals for after graduation.
Hekmat, you were born in Syria. Tell us a bit more about yourself.
Hekmat Dabbas: I was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1989 and have more or less spent all of my life there, with my parents and my two sisters. When I finished school, I started to study Civil Engineering at the University of Aleppo. Originally, I had planned to go to Turkey to study Medicine – but that didn’t work out, so I completed my studies in Aleppo in 2012.
After your studies in Aleppo, how did you come to TUM?
Hekmat Dabbas: I absolutely wanted to study in Europe in order to have better chances in my professional life. However, the only European embassy that was still open in Syria in 2012, was the Czech. So I could only apply for a visa for the Czech Republic, and I applied for a course of doctoral studies at the University of Brno. Luckily, that worked out without any problems. I was there for more than two years, but I quit in order to study at TUM.
There has been a war going on in Syria since 2011. What was your situation at the time?
Hekmat Dabbas: When the war broke out, I was still studying. Of course, my family and I witnessed what was going on – after all, the situation was especially bad in Aleppo. Eventually, however, the bombings became part of everyday life. Once, I was talking to a friend in the hallway of the University, when a bomb crashed into the building a. We ducked and covered our ears – but after the explosion, we continued our conversation. It was terrifying, but it eventually became normal.
Why did you decide to quit your doctoral studies for another Master’s degree?
Hekmat Dabbas: I had always dreamed of going to Germany. Here, the teaching is superb. I could also have imagined studying in the United States, but I could not have afforded it. I didn’t really like the doctoral studies in Brno very much. Since I was quite close to Germany already, I thought it would be foolish not to make use of the opportunity to study here. Thus, I finally arrived at TUM – and now I’m studying Transportation Systems in my third semester.
How do you like in Germany?
Hekmat Dabbas: Everything is great, except for the fact that my family is not here. They are still in Aleppo and can’t afford to get away. A few weeks ago, I met family again for the first time in three years. When we parted, we didn’t know if we will see each other again. That makes me very sad.
Recently, you were granted a “Deutschlandstipendium”-scholarship. What does that mean for you?
Hekmat Dabbas: The “Deutschlandstipendium” is a great help. I have a student job to earn some money, but the scholarship ensures that am able to pay the rent even without the job. Thus, I have more valuable time to invest in my studies. This semester, I want to show commitment as a “Buddy for Refugees” at TUM. With my experience and especially my language skills, I can probably be of significant help.
What are your plans for after completing your Master’s studies?
Hekmat Dabbas: First, I really hope to find a job in Germany and gain experience. For example, it would be great to work for the automotive or transportation sector in Germany. Some time later on, I want to lead my own company and be independent again. My greatest wish, however, is to be reunited with my family. After all, no one is happy alone.