"You're just waiting for your time to die, so living there is pointless."
Tareq Altourk first travelled from Gaza to Ireland to play in a football tournament in 2016. Two years later he came back.
The then 15-year-old was afraid to return home - he had already witnessed four wars - and ended up staying as a refugee.
He had "Not even a word of English" at first but after a couple of years of hard work at the Le Chéile School in Tyrrelstown he is now hoping to study engineering – predicted grades dependent – at TU Dublin.
Tareq is a talented forward, who can also line out on the wing, and has played for renowned Dublin youth side Cherry Orchard, League of Ireland outfit Cabinteely and now Rathcoole.
He recently had a trial with UCD's under 19s and hopes to reconcile their training schedule with his part-time job in Eddie Rocket's. He thinks the LOI is a "good league" but ultimately his aim is to play as a professional in England, France or Germany.
How does he find football in Ireland differs to that in Palestine?
"The physicality here is very strong," he tells RTÉ Sport. "You need to be a man on the pitch. They are very competitive and play each game as if it’s the last in their life."
"It's very scary. Seeing your friends, family and siblings dying in front of you"
Tareq, who lives in Tusla accommodation with other young refugees, hasn’t been back to Gaza but is in regular contact with relatives through Facebook messaging.
He says the recent Israeli bombardment of the enclave was a scary time for his family.
"The area that they live in is very dangerous because Hamas are based there. Israel are targeting Hamas so you think every attack will go there.
"They had to leave for a couple of days. The damage to my house and others is so bad you can’t live in them any more.
"I know how bad it can be. It’s very scary. Seeing your friends, family and siblings dying in front of you.
"But if we focus on the past nothing is going to change so we have to move forward and live."
Tareq has found solace in football and friends - he says he was never bullied despite his initial lack of English - and that his classmates are "very kind" and "sometimes crazy".
Thanks to those predicted grades, rather than sitting in exams over the next month he’ll take part in the Football for Unity Festival, a collaboration between UEFA, the EU and Sport Against Racism Ireland, which aims to encourage the social inclusion of third-country nationals.
"I’m looking forward to it," he says. "I’ve been ready for a while.
"A different experience playing against different people.
"I like to be competitive and challenge people."