In March 2020, as the coronavirus forced lockdowns across the Western world, Cal State Fullerton students returned home to a life of online learning and working. For most, that meant a drive across Southern California. But for finance junior Harry Amouzou ’22, it meant a journey back to his native Lomé, Togo, in West Africa, where he is continuing his CSUF College of Business and Economics coursework remotely.
Like most Titans, Amouzou hopes to return to campus to complete his degree and graduate. But for now, he is making the most of his 7,500-mile telecommute and enjoying spending time with his family, which includes his cousin Praise Dekpoh ’19 (economics), who was the business college’s commencement speaker in 2019.
Amouzou met us on Zoom to share his unique intercontinental study-from-home experience.
How is life in Togo right now?
In Togo today, people are wearing masks, but it is a lot calmer than in the U.S. or Europe. There are a lot of people still out on the street, and most people are carrying on normal routines.
For many people, working is different here, and most can’t work from home. The government does support some people, providing financial support to some who are eligible as well as promoting awareness for COVID and reinforcing protective barriers. But resources are limited, and a lockdown here would not be possible. Because it would force part of the population to choose between dying of hunger or dying from COVID.
What is your typical schedule as a CSUF student attending classes from Togo?
I have a different pace of life than I had back in California before this pandemic crisis. I get up around 9 a.m. to go to the gym, a new activity I have tackled to keep my mind clear of this anxious situation. After a session of almost two and a half hours, I go home to eat and rest before the beginning of my classes.
My classes start on average around 4 p.m., which is the equivalent of 8 a.m. in California. On the days I attend classes, I finish around 2 a.m. I have breaks between classes, which gives me time to review the next class.
My schedule is upside down because here, the time I have for myself is in the morning, whereas in Fullerton, I have it in the afternoon. As stressful as it is ending so late, I try to see the bright side of it by telling myself that at least I’m with my family that I get to see every day.
When I simply study, I just do it in my room. However, when I take Zoom classes, I prefer to do it in my parents’ workplace. As my parents are the owners, there is no problem for me to stay late. It is a lot safer because the internet is so stable and fast, and I also avoid possible power outages that happen in Togo. Power outages are rare, but I prefer not to take any risks.
What do you do in your free time?
Working out has become an activity that helps me relax. As a very focused student on my studies and desirous to get high grades, I hardly ever give myself time to relax. When I was younger, I enjoyed reading; however, with time, I gave it up. One positive aspect of this situation is that I have returned to reading. The books I read are mainly focused on personal development and a bit of history. I have also got my piano and guitar back here, which allows me to relax on Mondays and Wednesdays, when I don’t have classes.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m graduating in a year and a half, and I’m thinking of continuing with a finance master’s degree in California or attending a graduate school in London. I enjoy discovering new horizons, so I have no problem with where I see myself working after my master’s degree. A perfect goal would be to find a company that would allow me to mature and confront new challenges.
Ultimately, I would like to be seen as someone of great integrity with a lot of financial expertise and culture. I have been fortunate to have traveled the world. That is why, most importantly, I would like to come back to Togo and bring my modest contribution to the development of my country.