Education they say is the key to a successful future. Pursuers of this key either find themselves in comfortable or uncomfortable zones especially in a foreign land. The enablement of the environment causes some to fall off the ladder while others climb up regardless.
Mr. Hubert Varlet Nwolley is a Ghanaian student who is currently reading masters in French didactics and linguistic in Université D'Orléans(University of Orleans) in Château de la Source, 45100 Orléans, France. It is one of the oldest and popular French universities with a total number of 18,000 students.
Some notable alumni include John Calvin, an influential French theologian, pastor, and a reformer during protests reformation, Molière, a French playwright and actor and Pierre Fermat, popular for the last theorem in number theory and other great men.
Mr. Nwolley, who is making Ghana as an Anglophone country proud in a francophone country, shares his story amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Let me start by saying that Africa, specifically my country Ghana is really behind and therefore needs to speed up in terms of technology" he expressed passionately. He believes that his country is not able to be located in Organisation and resources. He added that "You don't wait for something to happen before you enjoin students to do the needful.
I felt misfit and unpleasant here in France for the first two months after my admission to continue my studies here at the University of Orleans. The system of education is totally different from what I went through during my undergraduate years in Ghana. Immediately after I got here, I was enrolled on the E-LEARNING platforms.
We were already taking some lectures, quizzes, exams, and other academic activities online before the Covid-19 set in and so the Covid-19 couldn't hinder our studies. But come to think of it, someone who has been nurtured with paperwork and later finds himself in a paperless environment, you can just imagine the uneasiness. Some lecturers come from different cities so you hardly get their time.
*Support from the university to foreign students*
The university has not done anything extraordinary. They only send us messages of encouragement and enlighten us on the health protocol we should observe to help mitigate the spread of the virus. It is rather the Students' Representative Council (SRC) executives who have sent some messages across that if you need help with regards to food stuff, you should register via a link but personally, I feel the process is too long and cumbersome because some of us have registered and re-registered but still we have not heard from them.
*My source of survival*
You see, the fact is that, I have relatives here but they are also students just like me. And just like the survival of the fitters in the jungle, we are actually in the same soup where everyone is fight for his or her own survival. Hehehe! I work for 20 hours in a week for survival. The work I do is not permanent job, it is something temporal. They only call you when there is a job, if there is no job, then my brother forget. Hehehe ! You can be working just for a month and after that, you can be home for two or more months before you're called again. Hmmmm! So you can imagine how I manage to survive here.
The unfortunate part is that, there is no money home for them to send you some. Besides, I knew the condition before I opted to take the bull by its horns to come here. Sometimes, I even send some of the income home to my humble family. Currently, the company I work with has been closed down.
The only intervention that has kept me surviving here is the France Government aid fund. Every legal resident is eligible appy for support when you become financially down. The money is paid through you or your landlord whether you are a citizen or a foreigner. This is what I depend on to settle my monthly bills.
*The negative effect of COVID-19 on my education*
Just as in Ghana, pursuing a master's degree here takes two years and you are allowed to choose between research work and an internship at any place of choice in any country at the very moment you start the programme. The students who chose a research work begun right from the word go in the first year to be able to finish on time. I opted to do my internship in Ghana. I was supposed to be in Ghana now for my internship. I finished with all my documents, preparing to return to Ghana, my motherland for my internship before unexpectedly, this pandemic took root.
Due to this, I have been enjoined to either wait for another year to do my internship or do the research work which I didn't psychologically prepare for to be able to compete successfully with my colleagues. As I speak, I have not made the choice yet hoping that the COVID-19 situation gets better for the lockdown here in France to be lifted on 11th May.
This will help us to know the date for the reopening of France borders to international students or foreigners. But frankly speaking, the hope I gathered to come to Ghana for my internship is degrading gradually. As you know, France is the sixth country on the world's coronavirus chart and so I am afraid that stigmatisation will hinder my smooth internship which I wanted to do in my former University in Ghana. So I am still thinking about whether to differ my programme, do the research work or still wait and come to Ghana after the Covid-19. In fact, I am still thinking unconditionally. Hehehe!
*Advice to colleagues in Ghana*
They should not relent and should try as much as possible to pursue their dreams. I am hopeful that this pandemic will be over soon where things will return to its normalcy.
EMMANUEL BARTELS ANKRAH
A student of University of Cape Coast