We sat down for an interview with one of our many international students, Zaher Akkad. The Syrian student is currently doing his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering in Miskolc getting ready for his last year and thesis while working as a seminar teacher in the University.
Why did you choose Miskolc?
The University of Miskolc has a unique mechanical engineering program with CAD/CAM. I am sure any mechanical engineer would understand how charming this name is. That what made me put Miskolc as my first choice while I was applying for my Masters in Hungary. Moreover, I am in love with nature. Watching videos about Miskolc and its amazing location filled me with enthusiasm to start my study here.
How do you like the country so far?
Before moving to Hungary, I had different prospectives for my future life. Hungary did not put me down; I’m living an amazing experience here. What I like the most is the rich cultural diversity. Next to my beautiful life in Miskolc, where I do not consider myself a stranger anymore, I love Budapest, which every time I go to, charms me with its fascination. I lived there for more than one month last summer and that’s where I met my fiancée and fell in love with her. We discovered Hungary together from Esztergom in the North to Pécs in the South and we also have amazing memories from Lake Balaton and Siófok.
Did you have any difficulties with the culture?
Moving to a new country, with a language that I do not speak and one that has a different culture than mine carries many difficulties for sure. Even so, the friendly nature of the Hungarian people and their continued attempts to support me helped to move forward through those difficulties.
How does it differ from Syria?
Syria is a country that holds thousands of years of cultural depth. My city of Aleppo was founded in 5500 BC. Everything in Syria is linked to the rich history and Arabic identity. Despite the geographical distance from Hungary, I always observe how the Hungarian people are proud of their identity and culture which they preserve within the many surrounding European cultures. This reminds me of my country, which I am fully proud of as well. In my city Aleppo, there is a memorial mentioning that Kőrösi Csoma Sándor was there in 1820 during his way to discover the Hungarian origins.
You are the first international mentor in the ESN program here. Why did you apply for that position?
With the desire to give back something to my university, I applied to be an ESN mentor. My volunteer work was an interesting opportunity, which allowed me to make new friends, either Hungarian or international. The support, which was provided to me by ESN Miskolc, was a clear example of Hungarian kindness. Now I am a volunteer at Alumni Hungary Network, which is a great experiment for me, since its scope includes all of Hungary.
Any plans to stay here?
I will be pursuing my PhD at the University of Miskolc in September 2019. With the support of my current supervisor, Dr. Felhő Csaba and my prospective PhD supervisor Dr. Bányai Tamás, I am starting my academic career enthusiastically.
The interview was made by the Magazine of the University of Miskolc.