INTERVIEW: Jochen Theis from Germany

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Twenty four year-old Jochen Theis is a German student who was in Abuja last year as part of his course training. Here, he talks about his Nigerian experience including his love for pounded yam and pepper soup...

INSIDE TRACK: Why are you in Nigeria and how long have you been here?
JOCHEN THEIS: I am in my last year of Business Administration at the University of Mannheim and I came to Nigeria to work as a trainee for a construction company with the intention of gaining more working experience. For this time, I will only stay for six months and I’ve been here since July.

INSIDE TRACK: What negative aspect of Nigeria did you hear before you came?
JOCHEN: Plenty. After I got the job offer, I started making research about Nigeria, mainly through the internet. The information you get in the beginning does not really invite you to think about taking the job in Nigeria. But even if you intensify your search, you will mostly come across negative articles.

INSIDE TRACK: What positive aspects?
JOCHEN: The most helpful for my decision to come here was a conversation with a former trainee of the same company who was here in the beginning of the year. He really gave me a positive impression not only about Nigeria and Nigerians but also about the job situation. The most important for me was just to get a good scale for risks and opportunities in Nigeria.

INSIDE TRACK: What Nigerian food has appealed to your taste?
JOCHEN: I regularly enjoy the rich choice of Nigerian vegetables and I also usually spice up my dish with the famous bush pepper. Speaking about meals, I found shawarma and pounded yam to my liking. Besides that, I also like pepper soup, but only if the cook respects my limits for “spicyness.”

INSIDE TRACK: What places in Nigeria have you visited?
JOCHEN: In general I am in Nigeria for work, so the possibilities to travel are very limited. Nevertheless, I try to use every opportunity to experience the country in which I have decided to live for six months. So far I was in Jos and at the Guara Falls. For the future, I hope to be able to see Lagos and the Yankari Park, too.

INSIDE TRACK What do you like most about the country?
JOCHEN: It is hard to say what I like most, because I like quite much. To provide just a selection, first of all, as the dominant part of my life here, I am satisfied with the job. As I am very much into nature, I also appreciate Nigeria’s rich landscape. Last but not the least, I like Abuja’s nightlife and the possibilities to enjoy the rare free time here.

INSIDE TRACK: When you go back to your country, what will you tell your friends about Nigeria?
JOCHEN: I will probably describe Nigeria as a country of contrast and struggle. While it is a country with unique richness of natural resources, the differences in living circumstances for Nigerians are probably bigger than in many other countries. As all verbal descriptions could not picture Nigeria, my recommendation to everybody will just be to get a personal impression by visiting the country.●

(This interview was published in the first edition of Inside Track Magazine. Jochen Theis has gone back to Germany. Editor)