A Cameroonian student in Sopron

Interview with Bob Mbouyem Yimmou, our first English language MSc student.

Soft spoken and polite, Bob Yimmou is soon to become the first person to graduate in the English language Wood Technology MSc. programme at the Faculty of Wood Sciences. He seems as appreciative of his education in Sopron, as his teachers are of his friendly personality, bright intellect and diligent work. We could not ask for a better first graduate…

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

My name is Mbouyem Yimmou (family name) Bob (given name). I am a Cameroonian student at the University of West Hungary, where I will earn an MSc in Wood Science and Technology in this year. I am 31 years old and the middle child of a family with 5 children. My family is from the west region of Cameroon. My 2 older brothers are living in Paris while my sweet mother, my younger brother and my younger sister stay in Douala, the economical capital of Cameroon. Before I came to Hungary I earned a BSc in Chemistry with a minor in Material science, then an MSc in Organic Chemistry. I had also had some work experience as a high school teacher, laboratory assistant in a brewery and as a controller in a Public Institution dealing with statistical survey.

Why did you choose to come to Hungary, to Sopron, and why did you choose Wood industries?

I have chosen Hungary following the advice of my older brothers who are living in France. After my MSc in organic chemistry I unsuccessfully struggled to find a job in my country. At the same time I applied in different Universities abroad, especially in Europe. It was an opportunity for me to get a new and world recognized degree as the corner stone of my professional career. From the beginning it was tough for me to change my field from chemistry to wood science and technology, but this was more professional and oriented. Our contact with my coordinator the Dr Csiha was very nice, my older brothers financed my studies, and I got the admission letter and the visa.

What were your expectations concerning your studies, and what do you think about them now, near the completion? Are you satisfied? Is there anything that surprised you?

When I came to the University, I expected to have many classmates and to learn mostly about wood but I have had a unique experience to be a single student during most of my lessons. I have learned and practiced a lot about wood as a material and I also had interesting and complementary courses to become a competent wood engineer. It was sometimes difficult to follow the lessons in English, as it was a new experience for some of my teachers. My teachers are clever and competent people, some of them play piano and run in the forest. Some teach in two universities, some can drive a train or play basketball, they climb the mountains, like impressionist paintings, they can remember about your face and your name even after 10 years. My supervisor is a curious perfectionist he is the best, my coordinator is a marvellous woman but she works too much. The teachings were very well related to the wood industry, I am quite satisfied as I feel myself ready to contribute my knowledge to start my professional career.

What were your favourite classes, and what is your thesis topic?

My favourite classes were wood anatomy, utilisation, modification, chemistry as well as preservation of wooden structures, wood based panels and theory of wood cutting. Wood is a magnificent, complex and fascinating material. It was also nice, although not easy to learn the basics about the Hungarian language. My thesis topic is "Enhancement of the biological durability of lumber using Niño Zinc particles".

You've spent nearly two years here - how did you like it here in Sopron, Hungary?

Hungary is a nice country, the western region is more developed. Beer and wine especially local one are very important products for daily life. Palinka is a terrible drink, which can make you fly to the moon, but I like to stay on my planet. Sopron is a nice historic city and a popular tourist destination. It is a nice place to be a student as it is very peaceful. Hungarian women are very beautiful, indeed, except for my country, the most beautiful woman I met is a Hungarian. She is, and will always be my best friend; her husband will be a king as she is a queen. The root of our friendship is our Christian faith, she has always supported me especially for our love with my future wife Nadine to grow. As I was baptised as a Catholic Christian in Sopron, I realised that Christianity is rooted in the city's life where I belong to a Christian community since this year of 2011.

Hungarian people are very concerned about their history which usually makes them either proud or sad. This patriotic concern also runs deep in the traditions at the University in Sopron. My only concern about the traditions at my University is that drunkenness, domination, humiliation, which have nothing to do with friendship and patriotism, are a danger during traditional events and rites, and at the end it may be detrimental for students’ academic results. On the other hand, it is very nice to meet older students helping the newcomers and all of them wear the same traditional uniform, learning about their history and culture.

Pork meat and paprika are important ingredients of the Hungarian cuisine. Fortunately I am neither a vegetarian nor a Muslim, so I enjoy them. In the restaurants, the meal are usually heavy and consist of a large quantity of food – the customer should be hungry! Hungarian culture is quite specific, certainly in terms of its origins and history with spicy cuisine, deep tradition, folk music and arts. Family is still an important cell of the society, in spite of the urbanisation and modernism. Hungarian people are generally friendly, hospitable and curious. They like doing things their own way, which can make them very clever, nonconformist or even depressed.

What are your future plans, after you finished your studies here?

After my studies I plan to find a position either in wood industries as an engineer, or in a university as a PhD student with a scholarship, taking part in a research project related to wood science and technology, and maybe chemistry. Actually, I plan to get married in this year, during the summer with my future wife Nadine, who is waiting for me in Cameroon. Nadine is unique, her eyes are deeper than the Balaton lake and her heart is bigger than the river Danube – she is my best support and motivation. I would be glad to start my professional career abroad here in Europe or in North America in order to gain more experience. Then I wish to go back to Cameroon and contribute to his development, especially in the wood industry, the forest and environment or even education.