My Studies Abroad: Meet Wesley, A Ghanaian Mechanical Engineering Student In Russia

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Photograph of Opoku John Wesley in Voronezh, Russia

This week on My Studies Abroad, we talk to Opoku John Wesley, a Mechanical Engineering Student studying in Voronezh, Russia. Wesley finished senior high here—he attended Presec—and then he applied through the Scholarship Secretariat to go to university in Russia.

He tells us a bit about his experience. And what the last five years studying in Russia have been like.

Guy … Russia Is Cold

—Opoku John Wesley

The First Year In Russia: Studying The Language

Photograph of Opoku John Wesley in Voronezh, Russia

After the students who applied through the Scholarship Secretariat arrived in Russia, they were picked up by the National Union Of Ghanaian Students (NUGS) in Russia. Wesley recalls how very very different the temperature was as soon as they stepped outside of the airport. Even through the layers that he wore, it felt as though he had just put his entire body into a freezer. You get used to it though, according to him.

The first year was a language study year; you had to pass a Russian Language exam before you could actually enroll into university. As you can imagine, it was tough. And people did come back home. However, Wesley believes that if you were tough enough to stick it out, you could pass the final exam with a little bit of effort.

While they took those language classes, they stayed in a hostel. It had classrooms and administration facilities. They didn’t have to commute for anything, really.

Classes Start!

Photograph of Group; Including Opoku John Wesley in Voronezh, Russia

Now, if you have just passed an exam for proficiency in the Russian language, you’re bound to feel a certain type of confidence. So, after passing the language exam, the Ghanaian students, Wesley included, were enrolled in different institutions based on their areas of specialization.

Wesley was enrolled in Voronezh State University to study Mechanical Engineering. And that’s when things got a little … err … hellish. Wesley soon realized that the teachers who had taught the language slowed their speaking so the foreign students could understand. However, university classes were mixed—they had both Russians and international students.

The university taught at a pace that would seem normal to someone who was a native of the language, however, the international students suffered a bit because of it. Wesley used to record the lectures because otherwise, you would miss chunks of the lesson.

Life Outside Of Class And Studies

Photograph of Group; Including Opoku John Wesley in Voronezh, Russia

According to Wesley, Russians do like to have fun. There’s booze, clubbing … just general enjoyment and all those other pillars of the university experience—if you’re into that kind of thing. Wesley, however, preferred to spend his time in Church.

There was a Methodist church that the international students—Zambians, Ghanaians, Nigerians, etc—attended. Wesley soon found himself in a group called Students for Christ and his membership pretty much filled his week with activities.

Aside from church, Wesley enjoyed Futsal. Now, you have to understand, Russians are big on football. In fact, Wesley had a particular Math teacher that would pass minutes of lecture time discussing football with the students. Anyway, Futsal is basically football—except that you play it indoors. And it’s a five-on-five sport. And one of their Futsal stars; Neymar from EquatorialLma Guinea now plays for his country’s national team.

Wesley has picked up a few medals himself playing for both the Ghanaian and Nigerian teams.

Medals Won By Opoku John Wesley in Futsal Competition

Nobody Cares About Coronavirus

When Coronavirus hit, there were some cases in Welsey’s hostel. And the reaction was appropriately significant. There was a three-week lockdown which limited external contact. Classes moved online as well. The students were fed, and if they needed anything else, they used a delivery service.

However, now, things are much different. Churches resumed with a cap on the number of people. Outside though, no one is wearing a mask, and people seem pretty lax.

So currently, Wesley is a first-class graduate of Voronezh State University. He’s just waiting for the graduation next week.

My Studies Abroad is a weekly Kuulpeeps series that brings you the Ghanaian schooling experience—from other parts of the globe.

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