For a young girl who had not seen much beyond her country – Syria and its neighbour Lebanon – coming to Hyderabad seemed like a major event and rightly so. For nothing could have prepared her to face her four-legged terror, called dogs, that she was to encounter everywhere on the streets of Hyderabad. After 11 months of stay, the initial fright of the canines has been replaced with amusement.
“I was amazed to see people feeding and playing with street dogs. Since there are no street dogs in Syria, I was initially scared of them. But the fear is now waning,” says Leen Essa, a masters student pursuing communication from the University of Hyderabad.
A media graduate of Damascus University, Leen was an assistant teacher in broadcasting direction when she got a scholarship to pursue higher studies at the UoH. “Though I was one of the best students in the University, had completed several courses in Syria and had some experience working as editor, I left it all to become a student again,” says the chirpy 25-year-old.Though Leen calls India a “nice and safe place”, the process of adapting to Hyderabad was not very smooth. Be it the hot spicy food or the hot climes, Leen is still learning to adapt. “Apart from the well-known fact of Indian traditional food being spicy, I have also had a tough time dealing with the heat here,” she reveals. Like every expatriate, language has been another problem area for this native Arabic speaker.
So, does she regret coming to the alien turf? “Absolutely not!’, she exclaims. “I agree there have been difficulties – I have faced unpleasant situations on buses and on streets but most people here are so warm and sensitive. Yes we do have to study a lot in very less time, but then I have a bunch of extremely helpful friends,” she gushes. On an afterthought, Leen adds, “Besides, India is safe and peaceful. Syria has been at war for the last four years. It not safe anymore.”
Having seen Hyderabad – it’s pretty and not so pretty facets, Leen suggests that anyone who comes to Hyderabad must visit all the places of historical importance and especially the famous Hussainsagar. “I also feel that education offered in Hyderabad University is quite advanced,” she says.
And, , what will she miss? “Coming to Hyderabad has been a learning experience. It has made me stronger and more independent. I will miss my classmates and the peace here,” she reflects.
However, there is one thing that Leen has not been able to decipher, “How are you able to eat such spicy food?”
Syrian national Leen Essa, pursuing master’s degree from UoH while admitting that her stay in Hyderabad has been a learning experience is keen to know how Indians are able to eat spicy food