The examination phase is over and summer break is ready to start. But for us students who spend their semester abroad in Namibia only have a few days to prepare for the next semester coming up. Not even a week passed and our planes are taking off. Straight to a country that could not be more different than Germany.
One month passed since us six macromedia students from Hamburg, Cologne and Stuttgart arrived in Windhoek, 1700 meters above sea level. The city is almost fully surrounded by mountains and winter is not coming, it is already here. In the mornings and evenings the sun rises behind the mountains in beautiful orange pink tone. While the temperature rises from 5 to 25 degress over the day. There is not even one cloud in the sky. It feels like everything is happening in this valley.
Three of us study journalism while the other three have their focus on management studies. Our partner university UNAM, University of Namibia is not a privat university and offers classes for more than 25.267 students. Not all of them are namibians, students come from Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana and all over the world.
As you can imagine the campus is way bigger than any macromedia campus back home. So as expected it took us some time to get an orientation. UNAM is the biggest university in Namibia and has more than five locations. We are at main campus in the south of Windhoek. Some of us come to uni with a car, that is what a lot of locals do as well but most students come by taxi or bus. Yeah taxi! It sounds weird at first but one ride to UNAM is $24 and rides back from campus are always $12 which is around 1,60€/0,80€.
At campus you definitely stick out with white skin as there are not a lot of white young adults in Windhoek. Most people are really nice but white racism does exist! People want to take pictures with you, they want to touch your skin and some feel offended by you being there.
Differences to Macromedia University
As I said, the campus is big but our classes are mainly with around 30 people. „Afrikaans for Beginners“ where some of us learn the popular language Afrikaans which is spoken alot next or even mixed with english, is teached in a group of around 25 people. Still there are some classes with around 100 students like „Principles of Management“. Most lectures just go for one hour and besides the final tests, you have to write assignments, give presentations and in some cases you even get oral marks. To be allowed to write the final test you need an attendance of 80%, while at macromedia you do not have mandatory attendance.
The classes are teached with „Power Point Presentations“ and in some classes you have to buy a book as well. There is a „UNAM Portal“ where all the presentations are uploaded, besides to that whats app groups tell you if your class got cancelled or whatever is important to know.
What we mainly learned at UNAM and in Namibia is that there is no such thing as rush. When you are suppose to meet someone at 11 am they will maybe show up at 1 pm.
Most people do not have a smartphone or anything like that. Living here is a bit like going back to the roots as people send their music to each other via bluetooth as Spotify or Apple Music is not working here. Personally, it feels like living in 2008 but Instagram is already there. Still it is not as a big thing as it is in the rest of the world.
Depending where you stay, you see lots of different people. Some are white and rich, while five minutes away people stay in „Silver town“. The orrugated-iron hut is a real thing.
Honestly, it is not to underrestimate what this can do to your mind. You automatically think about everything here and find your personal way to deal with the „reality“. Some people need to countervail this by going shopping or sitting in restaurants while other change their behaviour like not leaving food left overs or just not taking anything that they have for granted. For example, I can not drink the tab water so I have to walk for like 10 minutes to fill up my five liter canister and honestly I never appreciated my water more than I do right here.
One last thing that is in my opinion important to mention, as soon as it is getting dark, there is no going out alone. It is simply too dangerous. Still partying is a thing. There are some clubs that are definitely worth visiting and as long as you are not alone as a white person, there is probably nothing going to happen. No risk – no fun!
I hope you get a picture of Windhoek. See you soon!