Studying in Germany as an international student is not an easy thing for many international students who leave the comforts of their homes and careers back home to further their education in Germany. However for some outstanding ones, beating the odds clearly redefines the narrative of re-writing the African story in such an impressive way.
In our bid to highlight outstanding Africans in the diaspora excelling and making the continent proud, we caught up with Mr. Jacob Sarfo, a Ghanaian PHD student in the city of Göttingen excelling in his chosen field, here in Germany. He recently got back from a year research trip he embarked on in East Africa to gather data for his Doctoral research. Have a lovely read.
- Tell Us who you are, what you do In Germany and where you are from?
I’m Jacob Sarfo. 29 years old. First of all, a Ghanaian, and a proud Ashanti. I’m currently pursuing my Doctorate degree in Germany.
- When did you move to study in Germany?
That was in September 2014, for my Master’s degree.
- Why did you choose Germany as your study destination?
Germany because it offered me the least cost of education (tuition free university education), and yet one of the quality educational systems in the world.
- What were the cultural shocks you had when you first arrived?
I remember being invited for drinks by a German colleague one night. After everything, this guy settles his bill leaving mine. I was shocked as to why he would invite me out and expect me to pay my own bill. Luckily, I had my bank card with me.
- What do you like about Germany?
The Discipline. The Discipline. I repeat.
- Which have been your best moments so far?
I’d say the opportunities I’ve had travelling to other countries working on German funded projects. They have been amazing. I’ve got the chance to learn and meet different shades of people in those travels, and have had my mind widely stretched and opened as well.
- How is your experience with the educational system in Germany and was it worth your move?
I’ll choose Germany any moment for my education. The educational rigour I’ve gone through is huge. I’m a better researcher now thanks to the system, although I have 2 years more to complete my doctorate. The easy accessibility to (new) information, current research articles, subsidies on fees for publication in quality journals, etc. are all a plus for me.
- Give two reasons why you would recommend Germany as a study destination to others.
Firstly, because there are tuition-free universities here. Secondly, the rigour within the educational system prepares you for industry/academia - whichever career path you intend to pursue.
- Describe Germany In three words.
Discipline, Inclusive, Opportunities.
- How do you manage your time and life as a student in Germany ?
I basically give most attention to my studies. Other things about life, I do them as and when they fit into my schedule.
- Any advice to new students who are intending to come study in Germany?
Know your priorities and make them indeed your priorities whiles you’re here. Explore the opportunities available to you here, and how do you do that? – you have access to unlimited internet so surf your area of interest, ask friends/colleagues/your professors, drop an email or walk into the reception of the organization you want to work with etc. Indeed, there is no harm in trying.
Be open-minded, willing to learn regardless of your personal acumen, tolerate and respect divergent views and ways of life. The world is fast advancing with different shades of individuals, and you should know that.
- What's your favourite German word?
Oh, that will be “Kaputt”
- What is your favourite German food?
Actually none. I know, shame on me. I’m sure I haven’t tried any even. I love my Ghanaian dishes with lots of chilli/pepper.
- What is your plan after studies?
I had a stint within International Development Cooperation during my masters, which I loved! So, I will be headed back in there after my doctorate, roughly for about a decade and then finally settle back in Ghana to contribute towards the developmental agenda of my country.
We hope you have enjoyed this interview.
Interviewer: Derrick S. Vormawor (Radio TopAfric)