October 2013 was the beginning of a new phase, as it marked my start in Germany as a non-student. To be honest, it has not been without its difficulties – with many of the student privileges now taken away, it requires a good amount of “dough”, i.e. cash. One of the things I miss most is the University of Bremen’s semester ticket, which provided free travel within Bremen as well as long-distance travel to Hamburg and several other cities in Lower Saxony.
Nevertheless, deciding to stay a while in Germany before leaving for my home country was a great idea. Socially, it has been a great opportunity to meet and interact with the international students in the 2013 ISATEC cohort. I held a garage sale and will be attending Bremen’s “Freimarkt” with friends, the biggest fair in northern Germany. Academically, I was able to travel to China for the 2013 Sino-German summer school in Qingdao. I have also been using my time to apply for internship programs and jobs in Africa and Europe that are related to my MSc. course of study.
In the meantime, I am involved in two different projects focusing on the management of natural resources and indigenous knowledge within coastal communities in Asia and Africa. The Africa-based project, which is a part of a large multinational project, is scheduled to kick off in November 2013. It will study perceived causes of changes in fisheries resources within the Cross River Estuary, focusing primarily on bonga shad (Ethmalosa fimbriata), an important fishery resource in Southeast Nigeria. Traditional knowledge on the species’ life cycle, spawning season and management structure will also be studied. With assistance from both international and local supervisors, the field work will be carried out by students familiar with the topics.
Wondering why someone from this community is involved in a project like that? It’s because I am Nigerian and we will be working with indigenous fishermen and “fish mammies” (women who market the fish) who speak Efik. I have never been to Nigeria’s Cross River State, nor do I speak the local language, but Nigerian “Pidgin English” should suffice for the day-to-day activities. I am really looking forward to this trip as this coastal state has a rich cultural heritage and beautiful scenery.
Wondering what my responsibilities are? Well, I am taking an active part in the management of the project, proposal writing and questionnaire development. I am basically a freelance project manager!