Flensburg, 30/10/2018: Interview with Trust Mhlanga (Namibian exchange student)
What do you study in Namibia?
I study Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Namibia University of Science and Technology. I am in my final year (bachelor’s degree).
And what is your occupation in Flensburg?
I’m an exchange student studying Business Studies at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences.
How long have you stayed there?
One and a half month.
What did you feel like at the beginning? Was it very difficult for you to settle in?
I felt really blessed after recieving the greatest news of my life that I am selected for a semester abroad in Germany. I had mixed emotions.
The first day in Germany felt like a dream come true. Firstly, it was my first time on a plane, first time in Europe and Germany. As a student of Logistics, Transport and Supply Chain Management, I was fascinated by the different modes of transport used in Germany, the public transport ticketing system, the way people shift from aeroplanes to buses to trains to ships and the way the schedule is kept. The technology was super advanced for me, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The settling in Flensburg was a bit challenging the first days. Me and other Namibian students struggled to follow the road rules/signs. It was hard to understand where pedestrians must walk and where cyclists cycle, even though it was written down. We would walk on the red path (full of excitement) instead of walking on the grey path where pedestrians must walk. Time management was another factor, as Germans are very strict about time, unlike Africans. However, with time I managed to adapt for the system and now I make jokes of how I used to struggle with the road rules and signs. With all being said, I find Germany very interesting.
How did the Africa Centre help you?
The Centre for Business and Technology in Africa was like my right hand. They made sure that I was taken care of and I did not feel alone. Whenever I had questions, I would ask them and they would assist. The centre showed us the steps to take and what to do to settle in. They provided us with the most helpful person ever for that. The centre organised educational events and tours that where a huge benefit for me.
What are the main differences to your studies in Namibia?
Studies in Namibia are really good in terms of theory but they lack practice. Studies in Germany are more practical-oriented. All the modules I did in Germany had some ´lets put it into practise‘ part every day. Regular group presentations, regular visits to industries or video conferences with industry experts for like 2 hours, and all this created a ‘‘work environment at school“ feeling. The studies in Germany are mostly conducted in their mother tongue making it easy for German speakers to understand exactly what is being taught. The studies are also conducted with real time data.
What kind of impressions will you take home?
Germans are really friendly and helpful. I learnt that Germans want to invest more in African society and their technology differentiates them from the world. Technology is not bad at all, it is a key to better life and simplifies everyday life. We need to focus more on technology and invest more in it.