18. August 2017 | Von Barbara Pauli 

Land van nuwe ervarings, Country of new experiences

In the first part of my blog I want to tell you about my university the University of Namibia (UNAM). Within my first month in Windhoek I gained many experiences and would like to share the first ones with you all.

Land van nuwe ervarings, Country of new experiences

Not even three days have passed between my last exam at Macromedia in Berlin and my arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Namibia at the 13th of July. Kay, the other Macromedia student, arrived at the 17th of July. I flew with the first airplane from Eurowings which led to a big welcome committee: Reporters from TV, Radio and Newspapers as well as the airports manager came to welcome the passengers and crew. Could there be a better start for the next eight months?

Our partner University: University of Namibia (UNAM)

Let me introduce you to my university: Such as the country itself, the University of Namibia is very young. This year the university celebrates the 25th Jubilee of her existence. UNAM is the largest and leading National institution of higher education in the country with 12 Campuses nationwide and 7 Regional Centres. As Management Students, us two Macromedia students study at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (FEMS), one of the largest and oldest faculty within the University systems which is located at the University`s Main Campus.

The Logo comprises 3 elements lifted from the Coat of Arms: the sun, the book, and the colour red. The Sun is a strong reminder of the origin of the University and is an iconic link to the country’s flag. The Book with opening pages speaks to the opening of one’s mind and is a graphic reminder of the freedom of knowledge and the power of enlightenment. The Colour Red represents the vitality and courage of the people of Namibia, the iconic Namibian dunes and the strength of the University.

University life in Namibia vs. Germany

It is hard to compare the University life at UNAM with the one back in Germany. First you must know that UNAM is not a private University. It is much bigger than the Macromedia. There are more than 24.700 students studying and therefor the courses are much bigger. We have five modules, three within the economic and management sector, then the so called “research project” which is about writing an assignment and (my favourite) Afrikaans for Beginners.

If you have noticed, the first part of this articles headline is written in another language: Afrikaans. It is not the country`s national language (that is English) but one of the most common languages within the population. It is quite close to Dutch which makes it easy for us Germans to read and understand it. But enough of that. How is the university itself? How are the other students? The lecturers and lectures?

The university is, as I already mentioned, very big, it is indeed huge. Most of the students and lecturers come by car, to come by bike is too dangerous. There are many, many parking lots all over the campus. When you enter the campus, you must do a safety check where they check whether you carry anything forbidden, such as alcohol or drugs, with you.

The first day we got a little campus tour by one of the elder students but even though we got lost the first day when we tried to find our lecture room. There are many benches allocated around the campus to sit in the sun or spend your free time. Even though it is officially winter in Namibia, it gets around 25 – 30 degrees, so the first times out in the sun Kay and I were quite surprised how hot it becomes (is is winter, so all the other students wear warm jackets and yeans, you can easily recognise the foreign students, they all wear shorts and T-shirts).

Which leads us to the students. We are ten foreign students, seven from Germany and three from Finland. At least 95% of the students are from Afrika, not just Namibia but also South Arika or other African countries. In one of our courses Kay and I are the only white students, which makes it quite easy for the lecturer to notice, when one of us is missing (the UNAM has quite a strict attendance policy). All the students are very kind and the traditional greeting is a special handshake. While Kay mastered it within seconds I needed at least three presentations until I could do it accurate (which is quite embarrassing, the handshake is very easy). It almost seems to me that “exchange student” is a magic word. All students are very interested in your decision about studying at UNAM. They immediately tell you the Dos and Don’ts, ask you about your country and help (or at least try to help) you with all your questions regarding the university life.

The lectures are different as well. First, they are (surprise) in English. That is not a problem, well at least it should not be. But most of the lecturers and students have a strong accent, which makes it hard sometimes to understand what they just said. The university is quite strict about attending classes, but it does seem, that it is not that important, what time you attend. Many students come late or leave early (sometimes 45 minutes before the lecture is finished). A lecture takes 55 – 115 minutes but until now I haven’t had one lecture that did not finish at least 30 minutes before (the record is 50 minutes). Before the lecture starts people come into the rooms to sell sweets such as crisps or lollipops, even though it is forbidden to eat in the classes, many do so. The atmosphere within the courses depend on the lecturer. Some are very strict, others do not really have control over the course.

Even though: The university demands a lot. In Afrikaans, we write a test every week, it is our duty to write tests in all the courses. The marks have influence in the final mark.

After one month at UNAM I can say, that there are many nice memories but also problems. After four weeks, we are finally registered but the portal does not work jet. The university has a new computer system but it is still frustrating because we don’t have access to our scripts. Furthermore, it is very difficult meeting lecurers and heads of departments in their offices. Most of the time they are not there, even in their consulting hours. But even though, Ms Aune Sam who is responsible for us international students is like a caring angle. If we have any problems (not regarding the computer system) she always finds a way to sort things out and her office door is always open for us.

I hope, I could give you a small insight in the life of a UNAM student. Next time I will tell you about life in Namibia, Dos and Don`ts, places to visit and the different cultures.

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