Nacht van de nacht

Like many other students from around the world, Adewale John Adebusoye (28) and Paul Okwonkwo (32) arrived in Delft on a cold autumn day, ready and eager to tap into the wealth of knowledge and training this great university offers. Fast forward to graduation day two years later and both men were also faced with that common question among students – what next?
Adebusoye decided to stay in the Netherlands and further hone his skills as a software engineer at Yokogawa Europe Solutions in Amersfoort. His compatriot, Paul Okwonkwo (32), returned home to a job as a military officer-instructor in the Nigerian Air Force.

From his air force base in Kaduna, Nigeria, Okwonkwo looks back with amazement at his decision to study at TU Delft, while Adebusoye describes his Delft experience as ‘worthwhile’, stressing the effect that the Dutch culture and way of life had on him and his studies. Adebusoye: ‘I had to alter my mindset towards challenges, learn to see them as learning experiences, while also adopting the curious mindset of an engineer. I also gained the ability to identify what tools I needed to solve challenges, find those tools, and then apply them to solving problems.’

Okonkwo meanwhile describes his Delft experiences as “a rollercoaster ride”, in which he says he had ‘some good moments and a handful of sad periods’, yet does add that he’d gladly do it all over again if given the chance. When asked about his experiences with Dutch people, their culture and way of life, Okonkwo is rather philosophical, simply saying that ‘they’re nice fellows with close-knit social circles, but I admire the Dutch for their honesty, efficiency and attitude to work’.

Despite his admiration for many aspects of the Dutch way of life, such as ‘Dutch directness’, Okwonkwo decided to return home after graduation. When asked why, Okonkwo, a career air force officer, hinged his reply on the military code of espirit de corps and patriotism: “I returned because I already had a job back home that I cherish so much.” He was eager to make a difference with the knowledge and experience he gained from TU Delft in his country.
For Adebusoye, his decision to remain in the Netherlands had more to do with career and personal development.  “It was about my growth as an engineer”, he says. “Back in my home country, I realized there were so many things I didn’t know.” In the Netherlands, Adebusoye believes there are more challenging “projects and valuable experiences, and I’m hungry for this! I felt I’d get the maximum training and exposure if I stayed behind in the Netherlands, and so I did.”

Maximum exposure
When asked if they had any regrets about their decisions to come to Delft, Adebusoye was first to respond. “I don’t have any regrets”, he began, “because once you make a choice, you must understand that your choices have consequences, and be prepared to handle the results of those choices. I can say however that I’m learning and growing in my profession here and getting the maximum exposure.”

While agreeing with Adebusoye’s point of view, Okwonkwo expressed dismay at what he described as ‘the slow pace of development and people’s attitude to work in my country.’ This, he said, makes him ponder his time in the Netherlands. When asked about what he missed most about the Netherlands, Okonkwo quickly replied, ‘uninterrupted power supplies, fast internet connections, good roads and the Dutch efficiency’.

Adebusoye meanwhile spoke of how he longs to re-live the Nigerian way of life after three years away from home. The software engineer said one of the things he missed most was ‘the sense of community’ back in Nigeria, a sense of community that makes people ‘watch out and care for their loved ones’. He also misses “getting around the Nigerian system of ‘getting things done and the freedom of being able to just stroll to a friend’s house on a whim’, without having to make an appointment in advance.

Nevertheless, Adebusoye is grateful for the opportunity of studying in the Netherlands that his scholarship afforded him, describing the experience as an ‘eye opener’. He says that studying at TU Delft instilled in him ‘the passion to achieve’, an experience he declares that opened his mind and way of reasoning, especially ‘the realization that every engineering problem is indeed a challenge that can be tackled by applying many different approaches.’
Okonkwo also expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to study at TU Delft: ‘I’m happy for the knowledge gained from my studies, the friends made and wealth of exposure from visiting other European countries.” But would he recommend TU Delft to other young students looking to study abroad. “Sure I would”, he says, “but with a clause that the person should be ready to work hard – otherwise they shouldn’t bother applying.”
Adebusoye agreed: “TU Delft’s MSc program is very intensive and you learn a lot in two years. And then the quality of work you get to do for your thesis is amazing. The standards here are high and professors demand quality work from you.”

When asked about their future plans, perhaps ten years from now, Adebusoye replied: “I’m an entrepreneur, so I see myself running my own businesses, mentoring others and giving back to my community.” Okonkwo however declines the calling to be a ‘social entrepreneur’, saying instead that in ten years time “I hope to have obtained my PhD and developed the knowledge base required for efficient lecture delivery and development of the human capacity required for Nigerian’s development in the field of aerospace engineering.”

Okwonkwo hopes that in future Dutch scholarship agencies will increase the number of scholarships granted to African students, as this he says will help alleviate what he calls the “intellectual
bankruptcy” in Africa.

Although both men had mixed feelings about their lives and studies in the Netherlands, they both viewed studying at TU Delft as a privilege. Adebusoye: “One cannot come here to study and not leave a changed person.” 

 In de nacht van 30 oktober was de skyline van Delft donkerder dan anders. Dit in het kader van de landelijke Nacht van de Nacht. Vanaf 20.00 uur doofden de lichten van een aantal markante gebouwen en locaties, zoals hier bij Ikea.

Aardedonker is het vrijwel nergens meer in Nederland dat één van de meeste verlichte landen van Europa is. In Delft is de hemel permanent verlicht door winkels, kantoren, straatlantaarns en tuinlampen. Deze verlichting kost veel energie.

Editor Redactie

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