Morristown, N.J. (September 13, 2016) – Tim Habboub, '20, biology, brings a world of life experience to College of Saint Elizabeth. While born in Boston, Mass., of Syrian parents, Tim has spent a substantial part of his upbringing in the Middle East and, most recently, Germany.
During his secondary school years, he completed an exchange year in Cairo, Egypt, living with a host family and learning the Arabic dialect spoken there.
When Syria began to experience unrest in the northern part of the country, Tim's mother decided to move to Germany where she had secured work. His father opted to stay in Damascus with Tim's older brother who is attending college, and with other family members. Tim then qualified to go to the Berlin International School, which is part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
"The school was rigorous, but I earned credits towards college," Tim explains. "We had to take two languages, a social studies subject, science, math and art."
Tim took English and German and is already fluent in Arabic, including different dialects, and has an understanding of basic French.
At the IBDP, he had to take a theory of knowledge class which required him to write a 4,000 word essay, take standard level classes and higher level classes.
"The higher level classes are worse than AP (Advanced Placement)," he explains. "I was fully prepared for college level work after those classes."
Tim came to the U.S. to attend college for several reasons.
"Because I am a U.S. citizen, I was given grants and financial aid to study here."
Higher education in Europe has requirements unique to each country.
"In Germany, if you fail the entrance exams to medical school three times, you are banned for life," he explains. "In the Netherlands I would have to learn another language, and in England, the cost was prohibitive because I am not a British subject."
"CSE really impressed me with its small classes and beautiful campus," he says. "I've only been here a short time and I already know that my professors care about me."
Tim is majoring in biology and plans to go to medical school after graduating from CSE.
"My mom suggested I start out on the East Coast because it is close to Germany, and I googled small schools on the East Coast and CSE came up" he says. "For medical school though, I want to go to the West Coast like Washington or Oregon."
Tim is a fan of the TV series, Grey's Anatomy, and even though he knows that being a doctor is not like playing one on TV, the series did give him some extra motivation.
"CSE has a good international student program that helps us learn how to live here," he notes. "The transition has been easy, except that I am not used to the excess of resources that Americans have!"
He is very interested in environmental causes and conservation and possesses an amazing knowledge of recent American political history. He has been active on campus, becoming involved with different clubs and activities during Welcome Week.
In the meantime, Tim is looking to graduate early by taking 18 credits per semester and keeping his high GPA.
During the interview he received an answer to a text he had sent earlier to his mother in English. She replied in Arabic, to which he answered in Arabic. She then replied in German. He says, "We do that all the time; keeps us fluent in our languages."