Could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Robert Debbas, I am Lebanese, actually 18 years old and am a first-year student of the Bachelor of Science Program at École Polytechnique. I lived my whole life in Beirut, Lebanon until I moved to Dubai in 2020. There, I spent my last two years of school at Lycée Georges Pompidou. Apart from that I speak French, English, Arabic and am currently learning Mandarin. In addition, I describe myself as a very curious, rigorous and involved person. Moreover, I am passionate about mathematics and I like cartography. As a sports activity, I really like badminton. Lastly, I'm open-minded, understanding and down to earth person with everyone.
Why did you choose the Bachelor of Science of Ecole Polytechnique?
I chose to take the Bachelor of Science program from École Polytechnique because it is first and foremost, a high-level and prestigious program. Secondly, École Polytechnique is located in France, a country I am familiar with being French-speaking. Third, this program is structured in such a way as to lead any student well in his future specialization. It is very general at first, until it gradually becomes very specific. Finally, this program taught in English offers the possibility for students to do an exchange semester in the third year in prestigious universities in the world such as UC Berkley or Columbia.
Could you tell us how the first year is going?
In general, I feel pretty good. Although the classes are more difficult compared to what I was used to and the workload has escalated, the classes are also much more interesting which compensates for the work effort. On top of that I feel less academic pressure now than I did in my last year of high school. Moreover, I cannot omit the fact that the change of environment and lifestyle was a real challenge. In other words, the distance from the family, the responsibilities to undertake when one lives alone as well as the change of climate took me out of my comfort zone. Despite this, I still consider myself managing everything pretty well.
Do you have a favorite course?
Yes, I do, and this is one of my maths subject which is Analysis (Introduction to Analysis). In this subject, in order to prove mathematical properties, we build reasoning starting from definitions of basic concepts, which I find, like many, very satisfying. Some demonstrations that we covered during this course are quite counter-intuitive and require a lot of creativity which makes them very interesting.
In addition, this program allowed me to discover computer science that I had not really done before, which I find very interesting.
What would be a great memory of your first year in the Program that you would like to share with future students?
Excluding many good times experienced these past three to four months, a very good memory would be that of “Bachelor giving”. It is a tradition within the Bachelor which takes place at the time of the American holiday, the “Thanksgiving”, but which however does not celebrate the same thing. Indeed, it is an evening where we celebrate the diversity of cultures within the three Bachelor promotions. For dinner, the students prepared typical dishes from their countries. Throughout the evening, some performed to show their talents in front of everyone. The energy was very nice. At the end of the evening we all gathered in the main square in front of the lake to watch fireworks. It was a great time for everyone.
What are your ambitions for the future?
Being very curious, I am interested in almost all scientific fields. As I said, the Bachelor of Science at École Polytechnique offers me the possibility of making my decisions gradually over my three years so as to make the best possible choice. After these few months, I plan to take the double major in mathematics and computer science in the second year with perhaps a minor in biology. One ambition, although still too vague, would be to do a Master's in the United States to become a computer engineer and even potentially a Master's in Business.
Any piece of advice to future Bachelor students that you would like to share?
One thing that I really advise French-system students that are applying to the Bachelor program, would be to start learning math and even physics vocabulary in English. I used to watch English maths and physics videos on YouTube. This will allow you to be comfortable speaking at the time of the interview and more comfortable in general throughout your Bachelor studies.
Otherwise, I recommend that any future Bachelor student be autonomous, that is, learn to be fully independent and consistent with work and above all, organize themselves in such a way as to take some fresh air, go out with friends or even to do whatever leisure pleases one outside of studies. It is something that we often hear but which is nevertheless very important to endure everyday life in the Bachelor program.