Photo: Eric Kwayisi.
Eric Kwayisi, originally from Ghana, has graduated from the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences (EUAS) with a Master's degree in International Business Administration and now works at TransferWise. We met Eric in early January to discuss his relationship with Estonia and talk about his future plans. This article is part of the Alumni Success Stories series, created in collaboration with the Estonian tech news platform Geenius.ee.
— What exactly did you study at the university?
— I studied International Business Administration at the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences (EUAS) and received my Master's degree in November last year. I would describe my studies as very practical and thorough. The school constantly encourages students to take the initiative, participate in different projects, and be proactive in their professional field. My course was designed in a way that it immediately allowed me to apply my study skills to real-life work. I have previously studied Civil Engineering and Business Administration in Ghana. Combining this knowledge helps me see the world from a much better, intelligent perspective.
— Where do you currently work?
— I currently work for TransferWise as a Compliance Specialist. I constantly monitor and control the risks associated with user authentication, such as fraud, money laundering, etc. I love my job very much; it’s a fun and pleasant environment. I feel very happy to have started my career as a Customer Support Specialist several years ago and reach such a position in an Estonian company.
— When did you come to Estonia and how did you hear about our country?
— I arrived in Estonia in 2018 from Kursk, Russia. I was born and raised in Ghana, but after my university studies there, I went to Europe to pursue a Master's degree. While in Russia, I started picking up the language and was planning on going to Moscow to study in the same field. Unfortunately, it was a heavy-workload course taught entirely in Russian, so I could not learn the language and follow the specialty at the same time. It was at this moment that a friend living in Kursk told me about the opportunities in Estonia. I have been doing online research on the country for a long time and, honestly, I was overwhelmed ー the possibilities and technological development of the Estonian e-government seemed perfect for continuing my studies. After that, I learned more about my school and its modules. Since the language of instruction was English, and the program seemed exciting, Estonia was confirmed as the first choice!
— Did you have any fears about coming to Estonia? How did you adapt?
— In the beginning, what scared me the most was learning about the size of the population. I mean, there are 30 million people living in Ghana, and we are not even the largest country in Africa. Seeing that only 1.3 million people live in Estonia, I was a little bit afraid, because I didn't know what to expect. On the other hand, I can adapt to all kinds of changes quite quickly and easily. Currently, I work for a multicultural company around people from different countries, which has also helped to adapt. By now, I enjoy many hobbies here. I play football in a team, play music, and go to church.
— How would you compare your academic and social life in Ghana and Estonia?
— In Estonia, students have an opportunity and a greater privilege to define themselves, decide for themselves, and follow their journey. I have studied most of my life in Ghana and I have to say that the difference is enormous. In my country, students have to gain a lot of experience before they are even allowed to move on. The education I have received in Estonia has enriched my professional self-confidence and the wealth of opportunities ahead. When it comes to the Estonian people, we actually have a lot in common as nations. Both are young countries that only emerged from the occupying power in the last century. Of course, the main difference lies in diversity, because there are more than 400 ethnic groups living in Ghana. Ghanaians also resemble Americans in a way of being open and friendly. Estonians, however, always seem to have a colder and more reserved attitude; they do not always want to start a conversation until you get to know each other better.
— What do you like and dislike about Estonia?
— This may surprise you! I really like the weather here. It’s chilly, cloudy, and rainy ー as cozy as it can get. But most of all, I admire the hard-working and determined character of Estonians, the fact that has shaped the history of your nation. In terms of inconveniences, I would emphasize that I did not choose my skin color or the place where I was born. While I understand that people tend to protect themselves and their property, I also face an unpleasant and discriminatory attitude from time to time. If Estonia wants to be on the world map in the future, it must learn to be more open-minded.
— Have you learned any Estonian?
— At the moment, I don't speak Estonian very much. I know some simple expressions and I can speak if necessary. Unfortunately, my work schedule has been so busy that there is little time left to study. Hopefully this will change in the future, but I am glad that it is very easy to get along with English and Russian.
— What do you think of the e-government?
— As I mentioned before, e-government has been one of the main attractions for me to move here. I will not stay in Estonia forever, and if I ever return home, I would definitely like to bring my e-government knowledge there, contributing to a better Ghana. I have visited Estonia’s neighboring countries, such as Finland and Sweden, but all things digital are not so well developed there. Instead, it's a lot of paperwork, and access to services can be quite painful. For Estonia, there is definitely a reason to be proud of e-government!
— Are you happy with your experience in Estonia so far?
— ‘Happy’ is not the right word ー ‘fulfilled’ would describe it better. Estonia has added enormously to me, and I want to help this country be famous on the world map. I have found friends, new hobbies, a wonderful job, and a new life here. In addition, there are 15 other Ghanaians here with me, who also add positivity to my life.
Text: Karl-Erik Idasaar, Anastasiia Starchenko