Tag

university

Browsing

ASA’s graduation crush: Nomzamo Mbatha and Njabulo Ntombela

Hi ASA fam

I decided it was the perfect timing in light of all the controversy around the University of Florida‘s incidents with black students during their graduation ceremony (here). It’s important to understand that graduation for Africans is NEVER a small thing! Not only because we all have a good dose of #Wakandamagic in us, but also it remains an achievement for our ourselves and families esp. if we put things in perspective and look at the stats of people with tertiary education in Sub-saharan Africa. Today’s post is inspired by Nomzamo Mbatha (South African actress) and Njabulo Ntombela (a graduate of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal‘s faculty of Law) ‘s graduations. Everything about it was amazing, here’s why:

Their story

Nomzamo dropped out of the University of Cape Town (UCT) to pursue a career in acting after she lost close people in her family, which forced her to pursue her dream. Fast forward a few years later, she is 27 and definitely one of the top actresses in South Africa with a few international brands endorsements such as Neutrogena. This is #goals because despite her success, she decided to come back to finish what she started, her degree-a Bachelor in Commerce (BCom) in Accounting.

Njabulo comes from Nkandla (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa) and was raised by his great-grandmother after both his parents and grandmother passed, in his interviews with News24 he says “he’ll live to honor her”.

Honoring their loved ones

Her dress had pictures of the loved ones she lost (one of whom she lost to suicide), and the depression & suicide helpline for South Africa. In her own words, “I wanted the pictures of my late baby sister, Carla, late older sister, Matu, my late father, Nicholas Nxumalo and the greatest love of my life, the woman who named me Nomzamo, my late grandmother, MamJoli. The many tragedies I had to survive.”

Nomzamo Mbatha in her Vanessa Gouden dress (a South African designer)

 

On the other hand, not only did Njabulo decided to wear his traditional attire to represent his cultural heritage; but he also decided to take his great-grandmother to the podium with him to be capped. His picture was a hit on social media and gave South Africa #thefeelsfordays! What a beautiful act of reverence to honor the person who supported him!  I must admit that I regret not doing this for my parents, and hope to make this up in future (guess I’d better get working on that Ph.D. and/or MBA,lol!).

Njuabulo walking with his great-grandmother to be capped (SowetanLive)

Honoring Ma’ Winnie Mandela

Nomzamo had mentioned in a previous interview that her icon was her namesake Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela (former ex-wife of late president Nelson Mandela) affectionately referred to as “the mother of the nation” by South Africans for her contribution and keeping the fight against apartheid alive while her then-husband was incarcerated. Her graduation happened to be at the same time of Ma’ Winnie’s passing and she chose to honor her during her ceremony. She shouted the very popular ” Amandla Awethu!” which means “power to us”-the slogan of the fight against apartheid. In Nomzamo’s own words, ” This was your dream…You fought for the marginalized and was immensely instrumental in the defeat of the brutal apartheid regime. Your resilience ensured that today, we, your children could walk on a graduation stage built off the backs of our fallen people… we assure you that we receive the BATON…”

Africa well represented i.e. Ululations on fleek

You can hear Nomzamo’s loved ones scream at the top of their lungs as she makes her way to the podium in this video (here). If you are African and/or have ever attended an African celebration ceremony, you will be familiar with ululations (those coordinated sounds/screams you hear people make…#thefeels). While these have variations depending on which part of the continent you are from…The fact remains the happier we are, the stronger we ululate!

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I would love to hear from you about how you and family celebrated your graduation or are planning to celebrate your graduation this year. My own mother did not disappoint for my graduation when it came to ululating…she came VERY prepared with tools (so extra…lol!) but that’s a story for another day :).

Stay awesome until my next post

XxKenaya

What 2016 taught me…

Hi ASA fam!

Wishing you all a happy and blessed 2017! I sincerely hope you enjoyed the festive season break: got to rest, spend time with friends and family but most importantly had loads of yummy food to accompany these special moments. My break was pretty awesome and I feel refreshed, inspired and so hopeful for 2017 🙂 ! In line with my reflection of 2014 (here), I decided to share with you my biggest lessons of 2016.

Just start

From a mere idea I procrastinated on for over 2 years, just like that & as imperfect as it is ASA is here… :)! I have come to interact with you, wonderful peeps: enjoying the journey while finding my own voice and space as a blogger 😀

Gratitude

This seems so simple, yet challenging as it so easy to see what we do not have and complain about what is not working,etc. I chose to believe that living in #gratitude is a way of life regardless of your religious background (or lack thereof). Learning to see the positives on a daily basis helps you remain present in the moment, which does two things: (i) allow you to keep your spirits up when going through a difficult time  and (ii) stop you from complaining unnecessarily. No one wants to be around a friend that never seems to see the good in her/his life regardless…

neale-donald-walsch-struggle-ends-gratitude-begins-8i2a

You are the product of your environment

This was probably the hardest lesson of 2016. You are not an island but heavily depend on “your environment” however good or bad be it classmates, colleagues, friends, family, etc. If that environment was removed, you may still not be the same person… Understanding this is CRITICAL and has humbled me in so many ways… It also helped me be more tolerant towards the “difficult others” as I could be them if circumstances were exchanged. Do not take your “greatness/goodness” for granted-learn to cherish those around you who bring that out & nurture them.

Allowing yourself to dream

While going through a difficult time in my private life, I came across Terri Savelle Foy (a Christian public figure) on the net (here) and she has taught me to be bold with my dreams… Not sure about you, but I realised that my main motivation in my 20s was fear i.e. fear of failure and not graduating, terri-savelle-foyfear of not getting papers & be allowed to work, fear of falling pregnant outta wedlock, fear of being judged, fear of ending up with the wrong guy, etc. While fear can work as a motivation, it is certainly not the same as the pursuit of excellence and doing your level best. So for the first time in my life, I feel encouraged to set goals that actually scare the sh*t out of me & through words of affirmation believe these will happen however long it takes. Do check Terri out & let me know your thoughts.

The importance of planning

planningTerri insists on two things (i) writing down the goals, and (ii) plan your time such that you allow time/activity related to achieving that dream/goal be it lose weight, learn a new skill, get a first in one course, write a book, etc. Planning just does not happen, it takes time (a few hours however regularly you might need it). I am terrible at it but am planning to spend more time/effort on it this year

Be open

My mother always used to say something like “if one is looking for gold with a narrow mind, he might stumble across a diamond (with much more value) and still throw it away”… Remain open to new experiences and opportunities as they might bring you much closer to (& maybe faster) to your goals despite the fact they look different from what you were hoping for. For e.g. it might be being accepted into a different degree, or starting your first job somewhere else-it might just turn out to be “your diamond”.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I would love to hear more about what 2016 taught you e.g. what you were grateful for, what you struggled with,etc. What to expect from ASA in 2017? Well, for starters more regular & hopefully shorter posts (weekly or bi-weekly), a blog re-launch with the French translation (Francophone Africa, I got you) & a social media account. I hope you enjoyed this post & wishing you a smashing 2017 ahead ;-)!

XxKenaya

 

Something for African parents: What to do when your child is abroad

Hey y’all

Apologies for being MIA, I am super grateful for your support despite my ad hock posts 🙂

Trust in your child

Trust is important because as a parent you want to be the first person your kid runs to in happy times (like being on the Dean’s merit list), but even more so when things are going badly. Why? You would be able to guide them well and they can pick themselves up based on your unconditional love (e.g. try another degree, change cities, re-take that exam, class,etc.). Having someone believe in you in your darkest hour makes a HUGE difference esp. when that person is family!

This will always be a difficult one as too little trust alienates your child, and too much of it can be abused. We have all heard of that one family with the kid that went to study “over the seas”, picture-10became MIA at some point but kept receiving school fees and pocket money just to come back 10 years later; and realise they stopped studying 2 years into their stay and have been chilling or doing odd things (abeg!). Truth be told, in many of these cases-the kid often gave up studying out of shame instead of sharing his struggles and being orientated well. Be that parent that trusts in your kid, and allow them to approach you for anything. On the upside, you will also control them more easily… 🙂 lol!

Stay in touch

I find that this rule means different things for different children. My parents never gave up on me (despite the fact that on 9/10 times they called, I would miss their call… lol!) & and still called at least once a week on average… My mother went the extra mile and would call before every exam and/or major test to pray with me: this was gold and really helped boost my confidence! On the other hand, my brother could go on for 1-2 months before contacting my parents which drove them absolutely crazy.

Truth is every child is different, I would recommend at least a call every 2 weeks especially at the beginning during the adjusting phase (this is so easy nowadays and does not cost much with FaceTime, Whatsapp, Viber,etc-which we did not have 10 years ago). Staying in touch will also help you keep track of/understand your child’s routine & pick up anything “weird”/”not right” in time. Looking back I definitely took my parents’ effort to communicate for granted & now make more of an effort to call them as well-just like any other relationship it has to be a two-way street with people that we love.

Money matters

Understand the costs of living where your child intends to study. It is important to know whether what you send is double what they need to live (in that case you could maybe afford that holiday) and/or too little-that way, your child knows exactly what you can and picture-11cannot afford. Anything else (and/or extra) will have to come from their own sweat.

I also know some parents who chose to remove temptation away from their children by paying school fees directly into the university account, this way kids are NEVER ever tempted to use that money for anything else. This also depends on the attitude both you and your kid have developed towards money. For e.g. in most cases, parents send an equal amount of money to siblings (boys and/or girls) but for some reasons in Africa guys are expected to have the extra required to treat the girl they are into  i.e. anything from airtime, footing the bill at restaurants, to hair/clothes,etc.(this is easy in Congolese Francs,not so much in Euros/USD,lol!).

Moral support

Assuming you trust your child and are now in touch with him/her regularly-there is NO doubt that your child will go through hardships. This is just the normal adulting process: some will be consequences of silly/wrong decisions they made (e.g. failing a course due to missing lectures/focusing too much on a boyfriend/girlfriend) but others will simply be because life is hard.

Putting your child in touch with Papa XYZ, Maman XYZ, this one’s child because he did well,etc etc will not change the fact that at the end of the day, you are probably THE only person that cares most about your child: your words,love and attitude matter (even for the least emotional ones).

Share your struggles

Life outside can get very detached from the reality of many African families (e.g. temperature/size of lattes, having wifi or not, etc. become genuine problems…lol!). Sharing with your kid the problems you are facing (i.e. money, work, marital and/or health wise) not only helps them stay grounded but also makes you human in their eyes. It removes that barrier of fear and helps build trust and better communication.

Know their host country

In most cases, the reality is that many parents will not have enough money to visit their children regularly (#africanproblems). However, I strongly encourage anyone with a kid overseas to save up and go see where/how your child is living/coping at least once every 2 years…Why? In my case, my parents did not speak English and at had only been to South Africa once on very busy work trips. Thanks to the almighty, later on-for some reason they could visit more regularly and got to understand the educational system in South Africa much better.  Seeing us struggle through our busy engineering studies made them decide that whenever they would find someone willing to carry food, they would send us basically one entire month supply of cooked Congolese goodies to save us the hustle of cooking/deciding what to eat (& Gosh it helped!). They also knew that our engineering lab had no network, so we could either speak really early in the morning and/or late at night after class (we were not being rude, lol!). Lastly, they understood that while June is a holiday season in Congo, it is exams period in SA-so we agreed that December was a better time to visit as we could spend quality time together.

Visiting your child can also help you earn your child’s respect and realise you have not done a shallow job at raising a decent human being & off course pat yourself on the back…lol! In the words of my friend’s father he realised that “his daughter was so much more stronger than he assumed, not only did she adapt quickly but she managed to pass all her courses despite arriving late in France due to a late visa”.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I would love to hear from my readers, whether parents or not…feel free to share this with anyone who is preparing for their big trip to study abroad. Leave a comment down below based on your experience. This post is also a bit of a tribute to my AMAZING parents looking back at my journey abroad: while they were miles and miles away, I can definitely attribute at least 80% of ANYTHING I have achieved to their incredible support & constant prayers, God know much it carried me in moments of doubts!

Stay well & loads of love!

XxKenaya

Dear educated Congolese people, let’s talk frankly

Hey y’all

Today’s post is a plea… After many MANY debates/comments, I decided to write about it as this needs to be addressed. If you are Congolese and educated, these are the typical sentences you tend to hear

  • “Wow, you’re from Congo….so how come were you able to study, and pay for your studies”
  • “Wow, and you have a Masters! Most of the Congolese ladies I know only do hair and sell skin lightening products”
  • “Wow, you studied that….you must then be clever ”
  • “You Congolese? Wow, you do not look that AT ALL! Congolese ladies wear long weaves, and like lots of flamboyant make-up and jewelry”
  • “You are very different…most Congolese don’t like studying, they just like expensive clothes, music and dancing”

I could go on and on…but I gather, you have spotted my sarcasm already by now :D. As a student, I would often get very angry and even cried once….nowadays, a very long and silent blank stare has become my default preferred response. As not okay and painful as the above sentences are, We can all forgive the ignorance when it comes to people from different countries (African or not). What I find strange and NOT okay however, is when it comes directly from my own Congolese brothers and sisters.

My problem with these sentences is that I can only imagine what those who actually did not get the opportunity to pursue their studies endure on a daily basis. If you are from Congo, you know the challenges our country faces…e.g. history of war, one of the lowest literacy rates in the world coupled with one of the top 10 lowest human development index (HDIs) in the world(http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/drcongo_statistics.html )…so why this attitude?  If people do not study, it is not always because they are lazy, or they chose to…. Sometimes, they simply did not get the opportunity because of a number of reasons (e.g. funds ran out, paperwork did not allow for it in the host country, family emergency, etc etc.).

I have noticed a tendency amongst my educated brothers and sisters…We tend to hold ourselves on some sort of pedestal…and justify this (sometimes rather distasteful) arrogance based on the fact that we belong to this “perceived small group of Congolese with a tertiary degree who work as professionals” (whatever that means). I want to challenge this perception: If I look at my direct circle of friends, both in South Africa (Europe, US) and back home at least ~70% of the people I know have in fact gone to university…and the more I dig, the more I realise just how many are part of this community of educated Congolese both in the DRC and diaspora. Organisations such as Young Congolese Professionals, started a few years ago in the UK is the proof of that (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7419429/profile ).

Picture 2

Furthermore, in South Africa some of the best doctors and engineers are in fact from the DRCongo… Many of those who studied back home, and first work as security guards to put food on the table tend to find themselves back into tertiary education (for either Masters and/or PHDs) a few years later and enter the work force .  Being educated and from Congo alone, does not merely make us special especially if these skills are not used to either advance our direct circle (i.e. family) and/or country…. There are many of us out there, and we need to praise/encourage those who make it work whether with a degree or not…especially when under extremely difficult conditions to beat the odds…this is something to celebrate, let’s keep an open mind…talk positively of each other and  STOP the bashing already.

I encourage current students to interact with anyone with something positive to bring into your life. Sometimes that person comes with a tertiary degree, but other times not…do not let it limit your social circle but most importantly remain respectful.  Apologies if this felt like a bit of a rant…I hope you enjoyed this post & would love to hear from you. Have you experienced similar attitudes from your peers? Are you Congolese, do you have a few Congolese friends? Leave a comment down below and get the debate going;-)

Until my next post 😉

XxKenaya

Blog Anniversary: African Students Abroad (ASA) is one year old!

Hi Everyone

Today is double celebration day: Firstly, it has been officially one year since African Students Abroad came alive (from a mere idea in my head….and many months of break in between) and secondly I have officially hit the 100 visitors’ mark which calls for a celebration:yay :D!

birthday-cupcake-first-birthdayI know this is very small (almost insignificant) compared to the other blogs I follow…but I have learnt to trust my own journey, stay on my own lane and remain committed to my own vision & goals.

This post is inspired by That Hayet Rida (http://www.thathayetrida.com/ ), and A little bit of Lacquer (http://alittlebitoflacquer.blogspot.co.za/), which encouraged me to share a few lessons I have learnt thus far as a blogger. I just want to take the time to thank all my readers for the support received thus far…you guys are awesome!  Asante Sana (Thanks in Swahili) to both the unknown readers, and those I know personally (i.e. friends I forced to read my content, lol!).

 

 

  1. Do not do it for the money, do it because you love it

It is safe to say that I am not making ANY money from my blog yet. In fact, I spent a bit on the blog to register the domain and also select the template. As y’all know, I do have a full time job and am doing this outside of work hours. When life gets busy and you do not get the response expected (visitors/readers), the only thing that will keep you going is the fact that you genuinely enjoy writing and sharing. In my case, I know in my heart that ASA has a place in the blogosphere as I did not come across anything similar. This (and off course the visitors) keeps me going when I lose motivation.

  1. Plan

Writing has become my escape, while I enjoy it-it is also dangerous because it can start affecting other areas of my life negatively (e.g. boring task to complete at work takes the back seat compared to this awesome topic, I would rather be writing about it). I am still getting there, but I dedicate ~2-4 hrs a week on blogging maximum. Sometimes this is enough for a blog post, and other times it is not…but this is what I can afford at the moment.  I plan to commit to a blog post schedule post September when my calendar clears, but this shall be the case for now.

  1. Content matters

If you have read more than three of my posts, you know by now that my mind tends to run in 1000 directions, lol! I try to keep my blog focused based on its purpose and resist the urge to post about everything that crosses my mind e.g. my opinion on Congolese 2016 elections as ASA is not a blog about political affairs in Africa.

  1. Learn from those whom you admire

Safe to say that my go-to blogs are: Kongo Travels (http://kongotravels.com/tag/kongo-travels/ ),  She leads Africa (SLA, http://sheleadsafrica.org/ ), Opportunity for Africans (OFA, http://www.opportunitiesforafricans.com/ ), Small Starter (http://www.smallstarter.com/ ), and A little bit of Lacquer (http://alittlebitoflacquer.blogspot.co.za/) and That Hayet Rida (http://www.thathayetrida.com/) and off course the beautiful This is Ess (http://www.thisisess.com/ ).

  1. It takes time

Unless you are some kind of Shakespeare, writing/planning a blog post (especially, an opinion peace) takes time. Be prepared to steal some of your sleep hours 😉

  1. Become tech savvy

Confession: I changed the name of my blog at least once-it used to be called Etudiant Immigre (Immigrant Student) and later felt that African Students Abroad was a better name & catchy. I wish I spent more time on my blog before it went live, there are a couple of features still to come that I need to incorporate e.g. subscribe button, translation into French and Portuguese for my non-English readers, sign-up with programmes like Google adds. All these will happen in good time, one step at a time.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. My vision for ASA is to become a platform of exchange between African students in the diaspora to share our views, challenges , personal hopes/dreams and get off course get inspired! Based on the stats of visitors, I am humbled to know that my readers come from all over the world, and do hope you found my content helpful. We all have one thing in common, #weloveAfrica! Looking forward to many more posts, and taking you along this journey as ASA grows.

 

Lots of love!

XxKenaya

Useful study tips while preparing for exams

Hey ASA fam!

Nothing (and I mean NOTHING) scared me like “exam time”…. I was always a last minute person and constantly felt overwhelmed by the amount of work required. I thought I would share some useful study tips that worked for me in my student days since it is nearly exam time for South African Universities. In my case,  I also suspect that my praying and fasting parents helped a lot through divine intervention which made up for my lack organisation skills…lol!

  1. Plan

I cannot emphasize this enough: although daunting as a task, it will help you in future. Have a dairy; enter all test dates, exams, project submissions, friends’ birthdays, holidays, extracurricular activities, etc. This will help you understand the value of your time, and how to prioritise esp. around exam time. It will also avoid any unwanted surprises (e.g. forgetting about that important project due 1 week before exams).

  1. Go to lectures

I can only speak for myself here but I am sure many will relate; making sure I attended lectures helped me keep track of progress and understand my areas of weaknesses. It also reduced my study time significantly while preparing for exams. I know many MANY people who were “constant skippers of class” and did brilliantly in exams. Those were either very disciplined and used their spare time to read their notes, and/or geniuses who just got it in seconds. If you do not belong to either of those categories and are a “scrapper” just like me, get yourself outta bed and attend lectures J

  1. Take (legible) notes

The notes you take should help you during revision understand the material better, prepare for a test or an exam. Also, (i) date your notes, it helps during revision. (ii) Don’t be shy: use colour, post-its, etc. if you must. (iii) Avoid those loose pages, as you tend to lose them- rather if you do use them, staple them onto your notebook.

  1. Past exams/papers: A must for exam prep

I can definitely say in both Congo and South Africa where I have studied; past exams are like the “holy grail” of exam preparation. Why? Most lecturers are not nearly as creative as we would like to think, 40-70% of the past questions are likely to be repeated with different information/data. This means you get to beat the “panic attack” most students get before an exam as you will be familiar with a few questions already. My suggestions:

  • How many should you do? At least between 3-5 past exams
  • How? Get a group of friends i.e. 5-6 maximum, agree on a day (2-3 days min before the exam) and if possible ask that everyone tries to do these exams on their own. Then meet as a group a compare your answers. Keep 2-3 hours to explain difficult questions to each other.
  1. Motivating group of friends

As mentioned in my previous post (link: https://africanstudentsabroad.com/2016/02/29/what-i-wish-knew-before-i-left-for-my-country-for-my-studies-part-1/), I had a group of friends who were my #squad in my uni days. We all knew failure was not an option and worked extremely hard to ensure we get that degree in 4 years. We stopped at nothing to study. Everyone had their individual study time but during crunch time close to exams we often slept in the same room sharing one bed among 4 people. Why? Everyone had 2-3 hours of sleep in a roster, and the rest was spent studying.

  1. Beware: Multiple choice questions!

This is probably THE worst nightmare for students whose first language is not English especially for non-quantitative courses as 80% of the time (and under pressure): it can be difficult to pick up the differences/nuances between the right, slightly right and slightly wrong answer. Practising with past exams, and someone who is performing well in class will help here.

  1. Sleep enough

Yes, there will be crunch time and a few sleepless nights here and there. But lack of sleep with stress and a difficult exam can be a disastrous combination. I know of friends who fainted, or simply had a mini break-down during an exam. Avoid this by organising your time such that most of the studying is done in advance, and you get at least a 4-5 hours’ sleep before each exam.

  1. Tackle what you can do first

My maths lecturer in my first year actually gave me this valuable advice, which turned out to be SO handy for the rest of my degree. Most students make the mistake of doing the exam in the order in which it is presented: WRONG! Take 5 min to scan the paper, start with the questions you feel most comfortable with. You will do these faster and are less likely to make mistakes (marks secured!).  Then move on to the difficult ones which will take you longer. Even if you do run out of time, you would have done at least 40-70% of the paper well (depending on how difficult the exam is obviously…lol!).

  1. Go prepared

Have all the stationary required i.e. ruler, rubber, pencil, pens, calculator, formula sheet (for those courses that require it), a watch to time yourself, etc. Give yourself a bit of a prep talk before you write and for those Christians one: do pray!

  1. Onto the next one!

I am guilty of this too, do not let one exam out of 5 sets the tone for the rest of your exam period. Regardless of how good/bad the exam was, when you walk out of that exam room, there is nothing you can do about what you wrote but wait and see your marks. Depending on how tight your schedule is, do something to de-stress that’s not time consuming (e.g. a movie, jog, music, etc.) then come back to your grind and prepare for the next exam.

I hope you found this useful, would love to hear more about any other tips/techniques that’s worked for you. Show me some love and leave a comment below 😀 <3. Wishing ALL of you out there preparing for exams the very best and do hope you kick arses ;-)!

 

XxKenaya

Things to consider before selecting a degree

Hello lovies

I have had this post on my mind for a while now, and today just felt like the right time to do it….as selecting your studies  (and maybe future career as well) is a critical step in anyone’s life… I hope this article sheds a little light on things I wish I did in the past.

  1. Know thyself , what you like/what you are good at and your circumstances

This is CRUCIAL-I suggest you speak to your family, friends and maybe a teacher and dedicate at least 2 hrs to this process. Understanding  what you like and how your personality traits allow you to pursue it definitely puts you on the right path towards a fulfilling both career and university experience. Although I did not do it, all my extra curricular activities helped me understand that (i) I liked working with/helping people, (ii) writing-took nearly 10 years but the blog is here 😉 (iii) I was good at maths and sciences (chemistry and biology), (iii) physics was my nightmare (I have nothing but respect for those who claim to love physics), (iv) coming from the DRC, I knew my parents would be spending 60-80% of their income on my degree and wanted a stable job to be able to look after them in their old days. Based on the above I decided when I was ~15 (grade 11) that I wanted to be a doctor-I knew I would go to South Africa and doctors were paid relatively well.

  1. Do your research (information is key/golden….you get my point!)

Also something I did not do….instead I relied entirely on my brother who was already in South Africa for guidance (TIA style ;-)…lol!). I would recommend once you have selected your degree start doing research on the various universities offering the degree (in your home country, and in your potential future host countries)- understand their ratings, the programmes offered as well as cost implications. This does not need to be a 6 month dissertation thing; at this stage word-of-mouth should suffice (it’s still better than no information). Here is why:

  • In my case, my brother was in South Africa and already paid a hefty price….1 week into his trip to South Africa, we realised that South Africa did not give any credit to the Congolese matric and he would have to restart his last year of high school (or he should have done 1 year of university back home). It was too late, so off he was to South Africa knowing he would not attend uni immediately…he struggled for abt 2 years (a combination of English classes and online degree in science) before being admitted into a university full time. I (more like my parents) therefore decided based on his experience to go straight for matric and re-do my last year of high school.
  • I also realised that medicine was (i) EXTREMELY expensive (which I was unsure my family could afford at the time), (ii) only those who did not have a faculty of medicine in their home country were accepted in South Africa-most of us from the DRC therefore did not qualify. Yes, we could study medicine back home-we just wanted a better rated university. If I felt REALLY strongly about becoming a doctor, it is evident that by then my choice would have been to stay in Kinshasa and study there (and maybe specialised outside of the country later, or look for a different country with easier conditions)
  • Continuing with that medicine story, I met at least 2-3 people that left Congo halfway through their medical studies, believing they could continue in their host country (unfortunately at some point in Congo, most young people believed that ANYTHING outside of Congo would still be better) -they were obviously misinformed…some swallowed their pride and started over another degree, others simply never had to courage to go back to studying . Do not fall in that trap, and do your research!

 

  1. Understand future career prospects

Doctors can work anywhere in the world, so can engineers, economists and architects. I understand this is not always the case for lawyers (depending on what you specialise in). Therefore, make sure your degree does not become a limiting factor depending on your aspirations in life.

  1. Meet with someone currently in the field

For many women, the prospects of a future family tends to be a serious consideration for career choice e.g.  paediatrician rather than surgeon(whether wrong or right, this is a debate for another post). Contact someone whom you think is currently doing exactely what you would see yourself doing in a few years, and hear from them-what their day looks like , challenges, etc. This will also help you decide for yourself based on real facts.

  1. Be flexible

I believe “choice” is probably one of the biggest luxury and also curse of our generation….Your degree, while a crucial part of your life, is only a season which will last 4-10 years. You existed before and you will exist after… Knowing this-If you do not get to study what you wanted: chillax, you will be surprised how many people were in your situation and happy with the way their lives have turned out….Here is why:

  • As you may have guessed, I did not study medicine but instead completed an engineering degree and am now working in the sustainability field (I meet people everyday, still use basic principles of science, and am part of an industry working towards helping the planet sustain itself. While it has its highs and lows, and I am very much at the start of my career; I am extremely grateful to the Almighty for what I get to do everyday-knowing why yourself will help here.
  • After the first 3-6 months of uni, I bet the following will happen (i) you definitely like your degree and will do what it takes to get it, (ii) you hate your degree-if this happens, do not panic at least 50-60% went through this. You then have two choices, decide (a) you cannot continue and therefore must make alternative plans, prepare to face your folks and admit to yourself this path is not for you-I know many engineers who became teachers, doctors who switched to engineering and vice versa. The second option when you realise you hate your degree is (b) to stick it out knowing all too well you shall get into a different industry when you finish. In my case I navigated between liking what I was studying (I suspect the friends I made had a lot to do with it…lol!), and hating it with the determination to stick it out. This is mostly because I wasn’t sure what else I would do, but also I told myself that my parents could not afford another year-hence, I had better make the best of the opportunity I was given. Whatever you decide, know that you are not alone. During my undergrad, at least a third of my class decided they HATED the course, stuck it out and got their degree. Most are now mostly management consultants travelling the country, the continent and the world.

So….in the words of Beyonce #Formation, “get that paper!”, it is important as that certifcate might open that first door….but also keep in my mind that your degree does not have to fix/seal the next 5, 10, 20, 30 or 50 years of life….you have room to manoeuvre later in life.. ;-).

Thank you for reading…I hope you found this uselful and it has helped you in your steps towards becoming that powerhouse in Africa (Africa needs you!). I would love to hear more about those who are already studying, how you chose your degree and what else you would like to share with your peers….was it an easy process? What else would you do differently? Xoxo

XxKenaya

 

Save
Translate »