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How to continue your studies abroad? Rama Sagna, a young African student in France, shares her story.

1- Who is Rama Sagna?

Hello, my name is Ramatoulaye Sagna, I am 29 years old. I live in Grenoble and I am a research engineer in production, data processing and analysis and quantitative surveys in sociology. My passions are music, not making music but listening to it. I like to travel, discover, and go on adventures.

2- What did you do before you left to pursue your studies abroad?

Before leaving Senegal, I was a student at the University Cheikh Anta Diop where I did a degree in sociology. I left after obtaining my bachelor’s degree in sociology.

3- Why did you want to go abroad?

During our bachelor’s degree in sociology we were presented with a range of specializations that were available to us. Among these options, there were quite a few that were done in France or in private schools. So I chose the first option, which was to go and do it in France. I also make this choice for personal reasons; to discover something new, to go on an adventure, to enrich myself because it is always enriching to travel. And it is also a great opportunity to be able to continue my studies in a developed country. So that’s what influenced my choice to go abroad.

4- How was your trip organized?

First of all, I started to research and learn about French universities, particularly the specializations that interested me. I looked into where they were done and how to do it. I spent a lot of time researching and finding out about training courses in France. From my research, I narrowed down my selection of schools. I then went to Campus France to find out how it works, what is the procedure, what are the steps to take. And once that was done, I started the procedure; I submitted my application, had an interview, went through the whole process until I obtained pre-enrolment at three universities and finally chose the master’s degree in engineering and international project management at the Université Paris-Est Créteil. So there you have it, I got the visa and then I came to France.

5- What were the realities once you arrived? (Social and pedagogical)

Once I arrived in France, from a social point of view, I was lucky enough to have family in Paris who welcomed me and accompanied me at the beginning. I looked for student jobs here and there, and I ended up finding a job as a receptionist in a hotel, and I was able to continue my studies at the same time. After the master’s degree, I didn’t feel ready to enter the job market. I didn’t feel like I was at the level of competency that I should be at, so I decided to enroll in another course at the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences. Here, I did a master’s degree in statistics applied to sociology. This master’s degree gave me skills in data analysis and statistics that allowed me to occupy the position I currently hold. You have to know that when you decide to come to France to pursue your studies, you have to be versatile and flexible, because you have to combine studies and odd jobs to meet your needs, to ensure the minimum: rent, food, transportation, etc. So you have to be armed with courage and determination.

6- What are the advantages and disadvantages for an African student abroad?

The advantages of being an African student abroad is that you can be enriched by a new culture, you discover many things, frankly you get richer. You can meet new people, there are lots of opportunities and you can benefit from a quality training, but you still have to choose them well. You will also have the possibility to study in a quiet environment, without being disturbed – you can be alone and work as you wish.
And as for the disadvantages, for me it is already the fact of being far from my family, of having to rely on myself, there will be no mom or dad who will help us to take steps or to do this or that to inform us, it will be necessary to be awake, curious and to inquire about everything that awaits us here. And the most difficult thing is the lack of support. You can only count on yourself and you will have to find a job to support yourself and make sure you have what you need. We’re on our own. Sometimes people may look at you differently, you’ll have to believe in yourself.

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