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Was this the wisest choice ?

  1. Apr 15, 2012 #1
    Hello folks,
    I was born in West Africa, Sierra Leone of non African parents but environmentally I'm African. I've been living there all my life. I was in the best school in the country and when I took the London A Levels at age 17 I was first in the whole country in the science stream. That was where good fortunes departed.
    Most of my friends with decent grades left for America, England, Canada etc and were accepted at MIT, BROWN, KINGS, UCL etc. I could have been welcomed there as well but monetary restrictions caused be to stay back in Africa.
    Earlier I really had the inspiration of being someone great in later life so the simple idea of not making it to America (which I dreamed of) was a physiological blow. I was forced to enroll at the University of Sierra Leone, FBC. Actually its the only higher education university which offers engineering in the country. The university is really poor in every standard. Lectures are 1st degree holders etc and just a decent student could ruffle them into a state of confusion. The dean is more of a bench man rather than the commissioner. Every possible bad thing existed there. I felt I was wasting my time there but had no option. I tried for scholarships but being of another race getting a government scholarship was like going to space.
    So I continued on hoping something will change. I hope my point is clear. Though you might argue that one is responsible for making himself, which can be considered true, but the environment plays a huge factor. You need to be surrounded by the right people and by the right technology. Imagine I was pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering and never really saw the inside of a lab for 3 years.
    My unhappiness was ripe and felt my dream is being robbed from me. Now, don't think I was doing badly. I was always first in class, but that was not my point. I needed to b useful and competitive outside Sierra Leone if I had to have any chance to forge ahead.
    Then came the bombshell which has put me in a quandary ever since. In the second semester of my last year as an undergrad of electrical engineering I got a scholarship to Ukraine. If I accepted the scholarship I had to leave immediately and leave my 3.5 year course. Maybe this was a good omen. I really had to take that decision because if I didn't I would have always regretted it for the rest of my life. The scholarship to Ukraine was an undergraduate one in Petroleum Eng which was what I wanted to do before commencing university.
    I left my course and now I am in Ukraine at age 21 trying to figure out myself once more. I am currently learning the Ukrainian language because all the tuition will be in the language. Today made me 6 months here. Though I came first in the first semester of the language I cannot profess to have any control over it and I'm really worried if I will be getting afterall what I came for. Next year I'll have to study with Ukrainian students and I don't believe I will have the ability to understand fully what will be said or read difficult texts.
    At this point I have lost faith in education and maybe afterall this is not where I was destined to be. I yarn for English which is so simple, clear and yet so powerful compared to a language where the grammar takes away the possibility of being powerful. I feel I need to ditch the whole concept of education and look elsewhere.
    This is my story. I have been burning to share it and listen to what others think or even proffer an advice.
    Thanks for reading.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2012 #2
    I think you made a wise decision. Don't give up your hopes just yet.

    Sure, you're in a tough situation right now. You're starting a course without even knowing the language!! But, thing is, reading a course in another language isn't that hard as you think it is. There are only a limited number of terms and words that you need to know, and once you do, I think you'll be alright.

    I took some math courses in other languages as well, and it was easier than expected!!

    You were first in the country in science, so that can't be the problem. If you work really hard in getting the language straight, then you'll be ok!!
  4. Apr 15, 2012 #3
    But what about the age factor. I'm 21 now and seeing all my friends with whom I shared the same class now going for masters is disheartening. Its not jealousy. Its a feeling of disappointment though I cannot be held fully guilty for it.
  5. Apr 15, 2012 #4
    Big deal, I know plenty of people who graduated far later (several engineers who graduated around 26-28) and all ended up having successful careers. I'll share my story with you:

    I am in a similar (but incomparable) situation. I did most of my education in English (I attended a bilingual school in my home country(Spain) and lived in the US for many years). I even got into a big-name university in the US on a full tuition grant but for reasons that are not pertinent, I had to abandon my education and return to my country of birth.

    I spent some time getting a non-university degree in order to gain access to higher education in my country (as I was not allowed to transfer and was forced to take entrance exams, which with my little exposure to the Spanish educational system, were well out of my league).

    Eventually I got into a distance-learning university (I live in the Canary Islands, so my options were very limited), got through the first year and a half of a degree I didn't really want to do and then managed to transfer out to physical university which had the major I had always wanted to do (and a reputation in it). I am doing very well according to an adviser (I am 1 of 4 that's actually managing to pass every course, out of around ~20 students in my year).

    4-5 years ago I would have never thought I'd stand a chance against Spain's educational system but a bit of persistence goes a long way.

    Things will get better, don't let these woes break your spirit. You made a wise decision, take full advantage of your opportunity in Ukraine, something good will most certainly come out of it.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
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