Club President Marie Claudine Zangna on Her Experiences Studying in Freiburg

Freitag, 1. Juli 2016 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Thema: 2016-2, Clubnachrichten, englisch, International, Kamerun, Newsletter

Marie Claudine Zangna earned her higher education entrance qualification at the Deutsch-Französisches Gymnasium in Freiburg in 1979, before going on to study pharmacy at the University of Freiburg. Today she is president of the University of Freiburg alumni club in Cameroon. Alumni’aktuell spoke with her about her experiences studying in Germany and the goals of the Cameroon Alumni Club.

Alumni’aktuell: What’s the biggest difference between Germany and Cameroon you had to get used to?

Marie Zangna: The biggest difference was the climate; at first I was always cold. And the language was also difficult. When I arrived here I could only say “Guten Tag” and “Bitte.” Another thing was that punctuality is more important here than in Cameroon. Things are more relaxed where I come from; people often come late to appointments.

Marie Claudine Zangna
Marie Claudine Zangna during her visit to Freiburg (Photo: Alumni Freiburg)

Alumni’aktuell: Which countries are especially popular among African students who want to study in Europe?

Marie Zangna: French is one of the official languages in Cameroon, so France has always been popular. But German universities also have a good reputation, and more and more young Cameroonians are coming to Germany to study. The German courses at the Goethe Institute in Yaoundé are well-attended. Now there are even a lot of schools that offer German as a foreign language, and you can earn a language certificate while still in school.

 Alumni’aktuell: What kinds of challenges did you encounter finding work in Cameroon with a German state examination degree?

Marie Zangna: After graduating, I first had a job at Merck in Darmstadt and then worked in France. That helped me a lot, because I learned the French words for specialist terms in my field, which I had of course learned in German during my studies. The transition to Cameroon was thus not so difficult for me. Then I got a position at a French company in Limbe, in the southwest of Cameroon. There’s an examination in Cameroon that allows pharmacists who completed their studies in another country to have their degrees recognized.

Alumni’aktuell: How’s the situation on the labor market in Cameroon? Is an international orientation an important factor like it is in Germany?

Marie Zangna: It’s now possible to study all fields in Cameroon. It depends on the subject: Medicine or pharmacy, for instance, are offered at various colleges and universities. Degrees from foreign and Cameroonian universities are treated equally today, but in the long term I can imagine that companies will begin to prefer hiring people who studied in Cameroon.

Alumni’aktuell: Why did you become a member of the alumni club?

Marie Zangna: There are a lot of things you can’t achieve alone, so it’s important to connect with others to achieve something together. Since we all studied in Freiburg, we have similar ideas for projects and similar ways of thinking. We get together and try to get to know each other better, help each other, or exchange experiences. Personally, it makes me happy when I can support young people. I recently got a visit from a young woman who is studying medicine in Cameroon and would like to do her specialist training in Germany. I couldn’t answer all of her questions, but I was able to tell her where to go for more information.

Alumni’aktuell: Your club focuses especially on environmental protection and the environmentally friendly disposal of hospital waste. Why are these topics important to you?

Marie Zangna: We participated in an alumni seminar on hospital waste in 2008. It piqued our interest and motivated us to get involved in this area in the long term. Recently, we had a joint workshop called “Denkfabrik” (“think tank”) with alumni, the DAAD, the Goethe Institute, and the German Embassy. Our alumni club would like to do our part for Cameroon, and that includes waste disposal and insulation for hospitals. We are trying to work out ideas for improving the situation in our country. The club has initiated a partnership with municipal authorities.

Alumni’aktuell: Your son is studying pharmacy in Freiburg. What advice did you give him to help him settle in?

Marie Zangna: When you arrive in a foreign country, you have to be aware that a lot of things won’t be like they are at home. You’ve got to be open to settle in. Otherwise you won’t get anywhere. It’s not easy, but you always have to keep your goal in mind to achieve it. In the end, it’s not about just having a good time but about completing a successful course of study. My son doesn’t know yet whether he’ll one day take over my pharmacy in Yaoundé. The important thing for him now is to finish his degree.

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