10th December 2019
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Meet Dr Frederick Oritseweneye Pessu.

Can you please tell us where you work?

I am a lecturer in Corrosion engineering in the Institute of Functional Surfaces, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds.

What motivated you to come to the UK or leave Nigeria to study abroad?

The fundamental motivation for me was how I had imagined myself as a key player in the Nigerian energy, oil and gas industry. I grew up in Warri, Delta State Nigeria, that has one of the four major refineries. Warri metropolis is such that wherever you are, you will always be able to see the burning flames from the refinery. We experienced the effect of gas flaring every day, especially during the raining season when the sooth are washed down upon us as acid rain. I also read about these things and the refining process that leads to this. I decided I wanted to be in this industry to make a difference. I mean, we can fix these things but first I need to become a key player.  That was what inspired my academic path. This became matched by the desire to have a better educational development that I had envisaged necessary to achieve the dream of becoming a major player in the Nigerian Oil and energy industry.  This was what inspired my pursuit and being awarded the PTDF Scholarship to study for a Master’s Degree in Oilfield Corrosion Engineering at the University of Leeds. I am still in the process of becoming.

Did you encounter any culture shock here in the UK?

I believe it is normal and expected to encounter culture shock when arriving the UK for the first time. I would perhaps imagine that the degree of such experiences would be different for different folks. The most profound was more of a weather shock than a culture shock. This is because I was coming from a tropical country to the UK in the winter. However, the culture shock starts drip dropping when you start taking classes, meeting people and calling your professor by her first name without any prefix and of course the summer when you have the chance to experience the ostentatious display of profanity that the limited summer shines brings to the UK.

In your opinion, what are the major differences between education in Nigeria and education in the UK?

So for me the only constant was myself and my insatiable desire to succeed. Now what became obvious is the difference in the platform available for me to succeed. In the Nigerian University, Education is a top-down approach of dissemination of knowledge, while in the UK, it is a balanced between top-down and bottom-top approach. In the UK education system, leaders are trained from the classroom outbound into society while in Nigeria, we are trained to believe the limit set before us by the system. Aspiration is tamed. This to me may be more of a cultural influence on our education system. This can also be linked to Nigerian Family dynamics.

How did you cope with the challenges?

I believe an open minded student can successfully adapt to the challenges in the UK. An open mindedness that is inspired by God is very fundamental. So there is a guided path of grace for you. You may have to be open-minded to be able to see it and thread. You must work hard too and try to embrace the sane aspect of the UK culture. Try to glide along with the British sense of humor. It is full of annoying sarcasm.

In your opinion, what are the major challenges a Nigerian student studying here in the UK has to overcome?

I think you just have to overcome your dogmatic self and inspire self-belief. The education system here can be more of a self-learning experience where you are expected to take a lead role in defining your personal outcomes but under very brilliant guidance. I have had great experience with my tutors/supervisors/teachers. A key constant in my experience thus far is Professor Anne Neville. She has been a fantastic teacher, supervisor, academic mentor and Boss.

How can Nigerian students access funding study abroad?

I think there are a lot of scholarship schemes out there. Although harsh economic times have actually induced some changes in the academic scholarship landscapes.  There are also international Scholarships available to Nigerian students. Students can also leverage of some contacts already established in the UK to be aware of some of these opportunities.

What’s your advice to Nigerian students in Nigeria who have ambitions of studying abroad?

Well I would say studying abroad is just one thing, the other is trying to study in abroad as a means of escape.  If the purpose and motivation is right, there will always be an opportunity. You just have to keep trying and because the purpose is right, that will also inspire the right strategy too.

How do you think Brexit will affect Nigerian students coming to study in the UK?

This is a very tricky one. I know most Nigerians voted for Brexit on the premonition that Non-European union (EU) students can now be given equal opportunities as EU students, and that such opportunities will trickle into the job market here in the UK. The truth is both sides of the argument will affect Nigerian students negatively and positively. But in end, Nigerian students will still have a strong home in the UK and so too will the opportunities be.  Sanity and common sense will always take precedence and the UK citizens are best at applying these.

Thanks so much for talking to us. It was very insightful and inspiring. We wish you all the very best. Continue excelling!

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