Yahuza Faisal is one of the pioneer 300Level Engineering students from the engineering faculty of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria who were sent to China in 2018, under the “3+2 linkage program” to study railway engineering at the Central south university, Changsha.
The 45 ABU students have just completed their studies and all graduated with excellent results. Faisal studied Mechanical engineering at ABU Zaria and Transportation equipment and control engineering at CSU China. He spoke to The Abusites about his studies and experiences in China.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Yahuza Faisal, Born on September 11, 1997. I am a Mechanical engineering student of ABU Zaria and Transportation equipment and control engineering student CSU China. I hail from Kaduna State, Nigeria. I love Football and Reading.
Tell us about the selection process. How did the 45 of you emerge and how can you describe the process?
The selection was done across the two departments of Civil and Mechanical Engineering based strictly on academic performance and merit. The process involved a thorough interview session with a delegation of eminent Chinese professors.
The interview session was basically an interaction between us and the Chinese lecturers about academics. The few of us who emerged successfully from the interview session were picked.
How did you feel when you emerge successfully?
The feeling was that of extreme joy. I was extremely excited because it was a dream come true. I was so eager to see myself in China.
What were the major challenges when you arrived in China?
We arrived in China in the summer season and everything was totally different from Nigeria. The weather, culture, environment, everything was different. Food was also another big challenge if not the biggest. It wasn’t just the type of food but also the way of eating the food. They were eating with chopstick which was completely strange to what we were used to.
How did you manage to cope with them?
Well, we are Abusites of course and we can always assimilate. Learning day by day from individuals was the easiest way out of the challenges and we managed to do that pretty well.
How did you cope with the challenge of food specifically?
From the beginning we used to taste different food up to the time we found our taste and adapt to it. But I’m telling you up to now there are a lot of Chinese foods that we can’t eat at all.
The system here in China is more advanced than ours back home. How did you manage to break in?
Well, we were already trained in ABU by spending seven semesters. The ABU system prepared us pretty well. We knew that academics weren’t going to be our problem but still, we had to tighten our belts and continue from where we stopped.
How can you describe your lecturers here?
The lecturers here at central south University (CSU) are very friendly and always try to see that everyone is understanding when they are teaching. Their system here is structured in such a way that lecturers give full support to students and ensures that they get the best out of the students.
They were really helpful and truly supportive. We have to commend them for their efforts.
Have you ever experienced racism or discrimination?
That is another area where the CSU is exceptional and deserves commendation. We never saw or encountered any form of racism or discrimination from the lecturers or students. Maybe it happens outside the school environment but it is not that much compared to other countries. Most of the time Chinese children are happy to see us.
How is your typical day like here at CSU?
We usually have a 90minute class which is divided into 45minutes with a 10-minute break in between. Maximum of four classes a day.
Can you say the perception of the Chinese about Nigerians has changed with your good behaviors?
The credit has to also go to ABU Zaria. Anyone who has passed through the great ABU knows that we are peaceful and law-abiding people. The University doesn’t joke with its rules and regulations which explains why we have a strong ABU security department.
That helped us significantly here. We have been abiding by the school rules and regulations. Living a peaceful life in the campus dormitory. Respecting each and everyone responsible for any of our activities. The president of the school confirm that to our Vice-Chancellor when he came here last time.
Your performance has been excellent. How did you all achieve that?
Actually, our program is taught in English while the Chinese students are taught in Chinese. So because of the language barrier, we haven’t share any class together. But always the lecturers are happy with our performance, and always advising us to make friends with the Chinese students so that we can share ideas together.
I will also return part of the credit to ABU. The background knowledge that we acquired at our various departments in ABU propelled us to this height.
What advice will you give to those who are still here and those coming?
We the pioneers have actually done our best by setting a good example as the first set. My advice to them is to keep working hard and anything they don’t understand they should ask questions both in the classroom or outside. Someone is always there to help.
ABU has given you so much via this opportunity. How can you describe the school and the Former VC who initiated this program?
We really can not thank ABU enough. We understand the importance and significance of this opportunity which is why we have vowed to Insha Allah, do everything within our power to make the institution and all Abusites proud wherever we go.
To our enviable former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, we will always say thank you to him. We welcome him the last time he came here and showed him our gratitude and compliments.
Can you now based on your experience here confirm that we Abusites are naturally ahead?
Abusites are naturally ahead globally not only in Nigeria. You can see how we coped with the Chinese standards in just two years and graduated with excellent results. A system that is one of the best in the world.
With the knowledge earn, what do you think are the major challenges of our railway sector in Nigeria?
Well. We learned a lot about the technicalities of the railway from the management skills up to the vehicle operation and maintenance. I don’t have much knowledge about the railway sector in Nigeria before now, but I am very sure we’re ready to apply our technical knowledge in the Nigerian railway sector to make it look better than what it is by god grace.
Any survival or success tips for your juniors?
Well. Hard work is the key to every success. Respect everyone you meet, you may not know who’s that person.
I understand you now have Chinese names. What is yours and why was that necessary?
My Chinese name is Fasa. Actually, the first thing Chinese does to every foreign student is to give him or her a Chinese name. The reason is to help them remember you quickly because some foreign names sound difficult to them and hard to remember.
How did you manage to stay safe during the COVID 19 outbreak?
Several measures were taken by the school management since the outbreak of the pandemic to keep all of us safe. Part of that is providing us with free meals during the outbreak, which will help us to stay indoor which will help to curtail the spread of the virus.
If you are to change a few things about our Nigerian system, what will that be?
I am impressed by the way we take our classes. I will like to see that in Nigeria. From the lectures and population of the student in class e.t.c