In 2012, Baptista obtained a scholarship from Total E&P Angola to pursue his studies in France; he is currently completing his Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Pau.
Baptista, you were granted a scholarship from Total E&P Angola after studying in one of the Eiffel Network secondary schools. Can you tell us a little bit more?
The Eiffel Secondary School Network consists of a partnership between Total E&P Angola, the Angola Ministry of Education and the Mission Laïque Française that supports the opening of schools in different regions of Angola. The goal? To enable science students who attend these specific schools to get into the best local and international universities. As of today, four schools have been established. I had the chance to be admitted into one of those schools but it was not an easy task. I had to take several exams and the worst part is that out of more than 500 candidates, only 50 were selected. In 2012, thanks to my excellent grades, I was ranked the 5th best student in my class and was granted a scholarship from Total E&P Angola. It was a dream come true to be able to come and study in France, whose history and culture has always fascinated me.
After getting this scholarship, where and what did you decide to study?
First, I went to the Saint-Nazaire Institute of Technology (IUT) to study process engineering, before leaving for Marseille to get my Bachelor’s degree. I am now completing my Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering in Pau. I didn’t speak much French when I arrived in France. For three months, I attended classes at the Alliance Française in Luanda, then two more months at the Institute of Technology in Limoges before being parachuted into the IUT in Saint-Nazaire!
It must have been quite tough adapting in the beginning….
I have to say the first three months were the most difficult, in particular the university lectures. I couldn’t understand a thing; the professors were talking so fast! Then, little by little, I got better at the French language, I adapted to life in France and to the school schedule. I have now been in France for more than three years and I really feel I am living a double life, with the French culture on one side, and the Angolan culture on the other.
To conclude, how do you see your future?
I have always been passionate about the oil industry, offshore in particular. After I am done with my studies, I would like to work abroad for a few years in order to acquire several international experiences. I now speak three languages (English, French and Portuguese*) and I am convinced it will be a big advantage when looking for a job. Then, I would like to go back to my country to contribute to its development. Angola needs passionate, motivated and experienced people that will help the country grow stronger.
* Portuguese is the official language in Angola.