From Casablanca to Grenoble : Interview with a Moroccan student at Polytech

As a foreign student myself, I found it interesting to try to get to know how it’s been for others who have been more or less in the same situation I’ve been in since coming to France. Finding a foreign student to interview in Grenoble doesn’t amount to rocket science, so it’s safe to say I’ve had my options here at Polytech.

Anwar is a third-year IESE student from Casablanca, Morocco. This is his first year at Polytech Grenoble, but he’s been in Grenoble – and France- for more than two years now. After getting his baccalaureate in 2019, he traveled from his native country to France in order to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in industrial science. He applied for Polytech at the end of his second year and got accepted for the three-year engineering curriculum.

Choosing the major, and the school

Anwar studies computer science and electronics for embedded systems, which he chose because he opted for electrical instead of mechanical engineering back when he was a first-year student. He considers tech to be such a big and ever-changing domain, as well as the biggest industry in the world. One can’t deny the last statement, with GAMAM (Google, Amazon, Meta, Apple, and Microsoft) being a solid testament to its veracity. In his own words, “in embedded systems, you work with both hardware and software to create such marvelous things”. If those aren’t the words of a passionate man…

The decision to switch from a normal university to an engineering school is one he took a while back, as he considers an engineer diploma to hold more value than a standard Master’s from uni. He chose Polytech Grenoble because the IESE program was one that suited him perfectly, and allowed him to stay in the city he loves.

Coming to France for the first time

Now obviously acclimated to France and Grenoble, Anwar came quite a long way and endured many a hassle before getting to where he is now. Moving alone across countries as a high school graduate is a hard experience, but what makes it even harder is when you do it when you’re 17. As a minor, getting an apartment alone is very hard, while opening a bank account and getting a part-time job are simply impossible. Luckily, he did speak French already and had an uncle in Paris, but things were complicated as he was quite busy with work.

Living a unique first year in France

As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also part of the “cursed” class as it is referred to in our countries; the class that came in the summer of 2019, months before the outbreak of COVID-19. As a result, borders got closed, so he couldn’t book his yearly summer trip to go back home but found consolation in discovering Grenoble even further with his friends. He did go back home in the summer of 2021, nearly
two years after leaving.

Life at Polytech

At Polytech, he participates in many extracurricular activities and lately took part in a challenge organized during the “Journée Polytech Pro”. The challenge, which took place two weeks ago, consisted in finding solutions to existing problems such as polluted oceans for example, and his team ended up winning first place. As a result, his first impression on the school is a very good one, and he thinks he’ll graduate with everything he needs in order to get into the job market.

His current situation…

Two years later, he still misses his family sometimes but says he puts things in perspective by always remembering the first lockdown back in 2020, when he was alone and panicking in his studio. Today, he’s doing fine at Polytech and has a part-time job. He also got fairly attached to the city, which is stress-free according to him, and the traffic jam isn’t as bad as Casablanca, the city he grew up in.

… and his future ambitions

Regarding the future, his short-term goal is to just succeed this semester by passing each course and participate in more projects that would help expand his engineering culture. Also, he plans on doing a semester abroad to improve his English and discover another culture, among other things.

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