Hossam is the first student of the International Scholarships Program to be admitted to the prestigious École Polytechnique. This 22-year-old Yemeni arrived in France three years ago.
Hossam, our readers want to know all about you!
I arrived in France after I got a scholarship from Yemen LNG, in collaboration with Total, to do a BSc in Mechanics at Marseille University. When I graduated from high school, I did not speak any French. In my country, scholarships to study in France are very desirable so I decided to follow intensive courses in French for a year. I wanted to get at least a B2 level and do whatever I could to be chosen for a scholarship in France. After several exams, motivation and language tests, I finally obtained the scholarship to come and study here. Only fifteen out of hundreds of applicants were granted one!
How was it then when you arrived in France?
The first year was a bit tough. It was a complete new world for me, everything was different: the language, the culture, the education system… I truly felt estranged from my country. But after a few months, I started feeling comfortable as I was getting a better grasp of the French language and the classes I attended. If I had to mention one difficulty, I would say the school hours. In Yemen, we get off at 4pm, whether in France you can be in class until 7pm at night! The lifestyle and learning processes are very different but all of this helped me be more independent and autonomous.
Hossam, in September, you started studying at École Polytechnique, a prestigious Grande École in France. How did you make it into this school?
In third year, I had this incredible teacher who strongly believed in my abilities and thanks to his support, I decided to apply to École Polytechnique. A lot of people told me how difficult it would be to get into this school, and that the competition was fierce, but I was determined to give it my best shot. From January till June 2014, I can really say I lived a double life; I was juggling my classes in university and the additional classes I attended outside of school to increase my chances at passing the written tests. All this hard work eventually paid off. In June 2015, I received the good news: I was accepted at Polytechnique!
What do you think made the difference in your application?
I think what made the difference is the unwavering desire to succeed, and an unfailing motivation. I also like developing my potential to the highest level possible and giving the best of myself.
Where do you see yourself after graduating from Polytechnique?
After I graduate, I would like to become a consultant or an expert in information science. Although I’m still not sure where; I wonder where the wind will take me!
To conclude, what do you feel grateful for today?
I’d say that anytime I was having a tough time, there was always someone to help me, support me and encourage me to stay on the right track. I strongly encourage youngsters to go and study abroad but they have to keep in mind that it takes a lot of courage and determination. Today, I find myself in the position of helping people as I am currently doing an internship for the French Ministry of National Education in Strasbourg. My job is to go to primary and secondary schools in order to help pupils with learning difficulties who live in deprived areas. It’s truly a very enriching experience.