I’m Pooria Zarrabi from Iran. I attended the Master in Civil Engineering (Building Construction) which started in October 2015 and finished in April 2018.
Portugal offered Master’s degree in English program in Civil Engineering so it was one of my destination choices in Europe. There are several branches of Civil Engineering program and I was looking for a program with majoring in Building construction. The Polytechnic of Leiria offered one of the programs that had the course I was interested in.
My best memories are the times spent with my Professors, the discussion I have had with them and the friendship I built with them at the end. Moreover the time I spend with my international and Portuguese classmates and the friends I have found in this journey of my life inside and outside university.
The most surprising part of the culture in Portugal and mainly in Leiria was the similarities I have found with my own culture in Iran. The warmness, the hospitably and willingness to help, the family gatherings and last but not least the marking system which is out of 20 are very similar to Iranian culture.
At the moment, I am aiming for a PhD Positon to continue my education.
Going back to school after many years of working in the industry as an engineer was a big challenge for me at the beginning. The Polytechnic of Leiria helped me to upgrade my knowledge and combine my work experiences with new and updated methods in construction and mainly in sustainability. In terms of the personal growth, the program in English mixed with Portuguese students gave me the opportunity me to integrate with other international students, exchange ideas and learn more about other cultures.
The international relation office was very helpful in terms of making the process of getting visa, gathering international students for welcome parties, Christmas gatherings and on. For further improvement in my opinion the network needs to focus more on accommodation issues for new students. Arranging accommodations before arrival and providing flats for couples will also be beneficiary. This would attract more students to choose Polytechnic of Leiria and will expand the alumni network. Based on my own experiences, finding accommodation was a big challenge at the beginning and during my studies.