John Anyam is a trainee at the University of Dundee’s Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research. A lecturer at Nigeria’s University of Agriculture in Makurdi, he is three months in to an 11-month placement at Dundee. Here he speaks about how his time in Scotland is transforming his life.
I am from Benue, where my mother worked as a nurse, and I think it was the stories she told me about her job that always made me want to help people. Today, I am a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, but just now I am in Scotland at the University of Dundee’s Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research.
My senior colleague had been here before me and discovered that the Wellcome Centre had an opening at the University of Dundee and asked me to apply. I arrived in September and will be here until August 2019. I am working in natural product isolation, learning about drug discovery and how to use plants to develop treatments for people who are ill.
I had never left Nigeria before, so coming to Europe made me nervous at first. I did not know what to expect from the people in Dundee, but they have been so friendly to me since I arrived. People shake my hand and say hello to me in the street, which was such a pleasant surprise. The city is very welcoming to African people and that has helped me to feel at home. I also attend church here, where I have made friends who have helped me to settle.
The weather has been very nice, and it is not as cold as I thought it might be. Dundee is also Scotland’s sunniest city and I’ve loved the temperature so far – it reminds me a little bit of Harmattan.
The facilities at the University are incredible, and the labs are like nothing I have experienced in Nigeria. Everything is right here and we do not have to wait for anything, where in Nigeria we can experience long waits in getting equipment or test results back. I am also getting to work with people from all over the world. We all work together and we all work in harmony, and that is something I am enjoying very much.
Choosing to come to the University of Dundee meant that I missed the birth of my second daughter in November. I cannot wait to see her at Christmas as I have only seen photos of her or heard her over the phone. While it has been hard being away from my wife and children, I know that everything that I learn here in Dundee will allow me to make life better for my family when I return to Nigeria.
Coming here has already given me experiences and opportunities that have changed my career. The knowledge that I am gaining means that coming to the University of Dundee has been one of the best decisions of my life.