Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) which is also known as Barcelona Technical University is the largest technical university in Spain with most of its students being international students. UPC was founded in 1971 and currently has about 38,000 students. Its languages of instruction are Spanish, Catalan and English language. Mr. Aikins Yeboah is a Ghanaian student reading MSc. Aerospace Science and technology in UPC. Mr. Yeboah shares his experience amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
"I set off from Ghana on 6th September, 2019 and arrived in Spain on 7th September, 2019. We started serious lectures on 12th September, 2019. I'm pursuing a one and half year programme which as I speak, I have only a semester left which will be used for thesis writing. There are about four (4) Ghanaians here in UPC but it's unfortunate that we are not offering the same programme. We sometimes meet during break time or after class hours and communicate in dialect, Twi, small. 'Na yɛbɛ yɛ no dɛn?'. I am the only black in my class but the good news is that these people are not racists.
We live in harmony only that usually, you will see my colleague students gathered according to their countries and having fun, learning together as a group in their own language because they are good in communicating in their native language than English and you feel left out. You see, the advantage I have over them is that, in my class, most of us are foreigners and we are lectured in English.
About 35% cannot speak and express themselves fluently as I do and so most times, I am the one who assists type, edit and proofread presentations in my groups. For this reason, the white ladies love my company and are always around me. These ladies are very good and have been helpful to me. Almost after every lecture, I met the lecturer for a special tutorial which is free of charge. Amidst this Covid-19, I met them on Skype for further explanation on every online discussion.
Madrid recorded the first cases which made them close their schools down. By then, our school was still in session. Later, my area, Igualada in Barcelona recorded the highest case. You know, I heard the news in the evening. I became very scared because I boarded a bus to school that same day where I shook hands with colleagues and even hagged some of them as usual. My fear even escalated when I heard that Igualada the city within Barcelona where I stay has been locked down where no cars go in and come out. My situation became worse because in the same day, I was already not feeling too well and was already showing some symptoms which can be attributed to Covid-19, sneezing, cold and couching. All of us in the apartment were afraid of each other. We all quarantined ourselves for two weeks. In the same week that I felt I had Covid-19 and was keeping it away from my Uncle hence I might die, our lecturers too were bombarding us with assignments and other online studies.
In fact, I was really pissed off and wanted to stop my programme with the university in that instants. I was like "I am going to die and you people won't let me be" aaba! What killed my spirit was that my uncle called me and said it is alleged that doctors have advised not to take brufen because it can kill you if you contract the virus and still go ahead to take it. Meanwhile, this was the medicine I had been taking together with some other tablets. You can infer what was going on in my body. But at the end of the day, I realised that, I was negative. I got healed.
Here in Spain, we now feel that the COVID-19 has come to stay most people and companies have resumed their normal activities. Families don't observe social distancing even when they're going out together. The security doesn't mind you holding each other after realising that you're from the same apartment or you're family members. We only observe social distancing or mask up when we find ourselves in some public places like the malls, offices etc.
I know it might sound weird but I'll say that Covid-19 has given me some sort of advantage. In this place, students have only four hours to work in a day but now because of Covid-19, I work more than that and you have no idea how much Euros I earn. Lol!
We started the online class while most of my work was supposed to be practical. Nonetheless, the lecturer - student relationship here is very strong. They are always ready to attend to us at any point in time. The school will resume in September. We will vacate by the end of June.
Support from the Ghana Embassy
They have given their numbers out to call when you're in need but I am Okay, as I stated earlier, I am working and everything is fine. In fact, I don't even have time. I do my online studies and work.
My sincere appeal goes to our Ghanaian students who came here to study and now find themselves in Government. I'll advise that they should try their best to ensure that they lobby to have our country developed even more than what it is here in Spain. Talk of roads, train, our electricity system etc most of the things here are electronic but if you look at our country, it is not like that yet still we experience light out if not often, I will say in a seldom "dum so" which is very bad. This is because I feel we have more resources than these people. I feel we should find out how we can utilise our own resources and trust me no-one would want to go anywhere seeking greener pastures.
Nonetheless, the Lord is our help. Now the world is evolving, let us take advantage of the online system of doing things which the Covid-19 has brought forth. Let's minimise those manual and red-tapism processes and systems. The earlier, the better for all of us. Thank you.
Reported by :
EMMANUEL BARTELS ANKRAH