By Michael Seifert
“Even in Syria, my dream was always to continue my studies and do a Master’s degree,” says Qoutayba Abboud, a member of the tünews INTERNATIONAL editorial team. He was able to make the dream come true: in 2022, he successfully completed his studies in aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart with a master’s degree. In Aleppo, he had already completed his Bachelor’s degree in this subject in 2009. However, after two years of military service and a job at Latakia airport as a security engineer, it was clear to him: “Continuing to study in Aleppo was far too dangerous because of the war, especially since I had married in 2013.”
It was still a long way to his studies in Germany when Qoutayba set off on his flight with his wife and one-year-old son Ibrahim in September 2015. The flight took them via Turkey, across the Aegean Sea by boat first to Greece and then via the Balkan route to Berlin, where the three arrived on 5 October 2015.
“From the first day in Germany, I thought about realising my dream. The first crucial challenge was the language, that was clear to me. I started learning the language on the very first day. I knew that I had to reach the highest level, C 1, in order to study,” Qoutayba says. After his asylum application was approved in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and he moved in with his brother in Tübingen, he started a language course in June 2016. “I managed B1 in six months, which was quite easy to do, but the exams in B 2 and C1 were really difficult, like exams at university,” he recalls. By the end of 2017, the C1 TELC level had also been achieved. It was only when he applied to the University of Stuttgart, the only university in Germany where aerospace engineering can be studied, that Qoutayba found out that he had to pass another language exam, namely C 1 TestDaF, a language exam specially tailored to university studies. At the second attempt, he passed that, too, and was finally able to start his studies in the winter semester of 2018.
But then came a shock: “I will never forget the first day of study. It was actually a great joy for me, but at the same time I realised that there was still a huge mountain ahead of me. I understood almost nothing in the first lecture. It was a surprise for me that C1 was not enough for that, because I didn’t understand all the terms.” But Qoutayba didn’t give up: “Step by step I worked my way forward, in the beginning I worked day and night.” He translated the lecture materials on the internet word by word on his PC and sometimes needed a day for two pages. Slowly, his listening comprehension improved and at the end of the semester he passed all three exams.
The contact with a group of study friends helped him a lot. Qoutayba remembers how it came about: “One of the group sat next to me and noticed that I was a foreigner because I took notes in Arabic. And through him I then got to know the others. They were always very helpful with practical problems and until now we still have good contact.”
Learning the material did not cause the 37-year-old any problems; the basics from Syria in mathematics, physics and chemistry were very good, he says. In his studies, he specialised in numerical simulation and aircraft design and layout among eight electives. For the upcoming transition into professional life, he sees a wide range of career options, for example as a computational engineer, and good opportunities in the Tübingen/Stuttgart area. Because computational simulation on computers is needed everywhere, he thinks especially of “artificial intelligence”. Qoutayba explains: “For me, mathematics was something special and I always had the best grade. That is a gift given by God, that is how I came into the world. But I was not so good in Arabic. My primary school maths teacher still asks my parents what I do today.”
Qoutayba’s special thanks go to his wife Balquis: “I couldn’t have done it without her, I couldn’t have done it without her help. For the whole family, studying was a big burden, especially the exam period was very difficult for us because I had to work all the time.”
Until recently, the family, now with three children, lived in the small village of Bebenhausen, which Qoutayba appreciated very much: “We wanted to have contact with the people. In the meantime, we know almost all the people there. And the whole village knows my children.” And he has also been officially German for a year and feels well integrated: “We have accepted a lot from here. If you want to, you can do anything here in Germany.”
Qoutayba Abboud hat gerade sein Abschlusszeugnis an der Universität Stuttgart abgeholt. Foto: Balqis Alomran.