Studying abroad is not exactly easy. Things become doubly hard if you know little of the language spoken in the particular country. This was Dr Julius Butime’s lot when as a fresh graduate he proceeded to the University of Navarre under scholarship.
Landing the scholarship
Amidst a work camp deep in Uganda Julius learnt about a research scholarship opportunity from his lecturer and mentor, now Professor Izael Da Silva. He expressed his interest in the same to Izael. A few weeks later, I imagine in sunny Ugandan afternoon, Julius walks into a Cyber Café to check his email. Personal digital devices were luxuries back then it appears. And he finds the email which communicated that he had been awarded a scholarship to pursue a masters and a doctorate degree in Engineering. He was delighted, and having accepted the invite, began processing a visa.
The butchered spanish
His first days in Spain were difficult. The main problem being that he did not yet know Spanish. But a spirit of charity punctuated the centre he lived in, he would have a translator who would be at his beck and call for live translation. That meant, if people laughed at a joke, he would be the late laugher, triggering a second wave of laughter. Daily immersion in Spanish company would eventually force him to master Spanish, though at some point he had to take Spanish classes. For his studies, he was allowed to use English. The mastery of the Spanish language is one of the things he holds as a treasure from his staying in Spain.
Stereotypes are everywhere, and there are stereotypes regarding everything and everyone. Do you guys have computers? Do you guys have electricity? Julius would meet such questions. Julius made it his mission to try to paint the true picture of Africa and its people.
How deep is your pocket?
It should be mentioned that prices were interestingly higher, case in point a winter jacket cost a clean 15k. Such a jacket is a must-have lest you freeze to death.
Be not Oscar Wilde, pay for the sunset
There’s one thing which we should be grateful for. Practically every day, we wake up to a sunny morning, then follows a sunny afternoon and evening. In Spain, in all Europe, it can rain non-stop for days during winter. If the sun comes out it’s only for a much lesser while. Julius notes that the weather had interesting effects on his moods, a rainy day would mean gloomy spirits. What has your experience of studying abroad been like?