Student interviews July 7, 2021

An interview with Saba Khatatneh

Saba Khatatneh has been studying Medical Biotechnology on our Faculty since 2019 when she was granted a Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship. She was born in Saudi Arabia and received education in Pharmacy, but wanted to learn more about microbiology and biochemistry in particular, subjects that piqued her interest during an international championship in high school. Boasting great academic performance, there appears to be no obstacle for her to receive her degree next year. We conducted a short interview with her about the challenges of the past few months and summer plans, among other topics.

How are you feeling now that summer is here and Covid-19 related regulations are getting less strict?

It has been a long time since life was around every corner in Budapest. People with their kids, pets or even alone having a nice dinner, grabbing a coffee to catch with each other, or studying groups with university friends was all out of the question since the pandemic was hard on all. Now with Covid-19 restrictions are expanding our distance circle, it is amazing that I can see how life is coming together again and summer is more enjoyable, it's human nature to feel more comfortable and happy when seeing other people are happy and enjoying around, even when no one knows each other, it is just the positive energy that is reaching. I am filling up with energy, waiting for my exams to finish and enjoy that positive energy around me too. So, let's say I am super excited, happy, full of energy and can not wait to get some of the old normal life back, with caution of course.

What are a few of the everyday things that helped you survive studying in a foreign country with a pandemic going on?

One of the most important things that made living here alone as a foreign student during the pandemic much easier, was to have friends whom I can call my new family. Nothing can beat loneliness, but my friends here helped me during this whole time. Although we couldn't meet that often, or having fun as we used to, feeling that we are there for each other was enough, despite the fact that we all were foreigners. Also, contacting my family every single day, seeing them and making sure that they all are fine was a big relief and support. Not forget to mention, being busy in school and exams was a good strong distraction from feeling lonely.

Was attending courses from your home more to your liking than doing so in-person? What did you enjoy about online studying?

Online education at the beginning was somehow weird, not getting personal contact with the lecturer caused a little bit of confusion during the lecture. But with time and the support of the professors, either by email or during the lecture, made it very normal and I got used to the online lectures. Also, it was amazing to get all the lectures recorded which helped so much to review the class multiple times and not to lose any part of the lecture. Also, let's admit it, taking the lecture at home with comfy clothes and a cup of coffee was nice and saved a lot of time in my days. But not to get to go to the university, meet my professors and my classmates, and live the whole experience was a bit disappointing, school is not only about classes and exams it is about the whole experience.

Looking back on the past 2 years, how well do you feel you fit in at Pázmány and Hungary in general? Do you feel at ease here or are you still in a mild state of culture shock?

Hungary in general and Pázmány in particular, since day one made me feel I am more than welcome here, as a foreign student and as a foreign person. I did not struggle with a culture shock or tried hard to fit in, everyone was nice and welcome which made it super easy to fit in. Especially our international coordinator who welcomed and helped me so much Ms Tünde Magdolna and Ms Kinga Péceli.

If you were to start your studies this year, would you choose our University?

I would say that Pázmány had offered me the best science and knowledge, more than I have expected, through the remarkable men and women of science (my professors), it added a lot to me and gave me so much to admire and to be thankful for. It needed hard work of me to meet what is expected by my professors, but it is without a doubt worth it. So, definitely yes I would choose Pázmány as my university again.

Are you pleased with your choice of Pázmány? In what way do you speak of it when talking to family & friends?

As I mentioned before, I am pleased with what Pázmány had offered me. When speaking to my family about it, I am always talking in enthusiasm and contentment. I didn't have the chance to recommend it to any of my friends yet, but when someone is asking for my opinion, from my experience Pázmány would be an excellent option.

What are your plans for the summer?

Aside from getting my internship done this summer, I am looking to work more on my thesis, and trying to get prepared to do exams all over again with the state exams! Despite all of that, I am excited to see and explore Hungary, cities and towns other than Budapest, as Covid-19 stood in the way of that. Although I might not have the time for it but visiting my family is always part of the plan.