Work hard, play hard

Nomagugu Moyo shares her varsity experience as a first-year student at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

25 June 2019 | Education

Nomagugu Moyo

My name is Nomagugu Moyo and I am a 20-year-old student at the University of Stellenbosch in Western Cape, South Africa.

I am Zimbabwean by birth, but I was raised and lived in Namibia ever since I was three years old. I am in my first year, studying a B.Com in economic and management science, in the hope of specialising in marketing management as of next year.

I chose this particular degree strongly in line with my character strengths, my own unique skills and my personal future career goals. The world of marketing has always been a strong fascination of mine, and the strategies and analytics that go into consumer habits and the collection thereof has always excited me. What do consumers want and how best I can deliver it to them are all questions I have always liked dwelling on, even before I made the active decision to pursue a career in marketing.

Self-reflection is key in deciding what field of study you wish to embark on.

I was fortunate to attend a school such as St Paul’s College in Windhoek from grade two to 12, and as much as we as students hate to admit it, the school paid immense attention in ensuring we picked careers suitable to our capabilities, as well as our interests. Naturally, we were also taught that in order to successfully pursue our selected career paths, we had to go to university. And St Paul’s aimed at encouraging us to apply outside of our borders. I admittedly did not know how difficult this process would be and I encountered a multitude of challenges during my application process.

The most significant of these was finances. Beginning with something as basic as application fees, one must be prepared to pay between R100 to R300 for South African university application fees. However, universities such as the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University did not require an application fee for SADC students, so students should be strategic with finances.

One must also note that to apply to any South African university, apart from your grade 11 third semester results and your final grade 12 results, you also need to write national benchmark tests (NBTs).

These are to test where you lie academically compared to South African matriculants. Since these are merely benchmark examinations, they are definitely not a large deciding factor in your acceptance, but they do aid the university in knowing how well you’ll cope.

These are English and mathematics/mathematic literacy exams. Depending on what you plan to study, you may only have to write the English exam (e.g. BA students), or you may have to write both (BSc and B.Com students). They are difficult for everybody because many of the topics (especially maths) are not part of the syllabus. If you are not doing higher-level maths, it will definitely shock you. Regardless, don’t feel discouraged. Failing those exams definitely is not the end of the world.

Finances in general were my struggling factor. South African universities can be quite costly, especially compared to studying locally. Luckily if you are a Namibian citizen, there are many opportunities for financial aid, granted you perform well at school. Plenty of companies (for example Allan Gray) offer bursaries, scholarships and grants, and of course student loans (e.g. through NSFAS) are also available. In this day and age sending Namibian students to South Africa does not have to be as expensive as it used to be. However, foreigners who are not citizens or permanent residents, struggle, as we cannot take any student loans unless we have citizenship or permanent residence in the country, and almost every potential local sponsor wants Namibian citizens. Often you’d have to look for sponsorship opportunities provided by your home country. Whatever the case, do adequate research well in advance. And if all else fails, please start saving up early. It’s a worthwhile investment.

I love Stellenbosch University for its quaintness, and the town as a whole. It is very student-friendly and is a student-orientated town. Everything is built around student life. I love the ‘work hard, play hard’ vibe going on here. The biggest surprise was the workload. University is not high school. Your high school tendencies of “I’ll cover the entire syllabus in one night” will not get you very far here. That was the first wake-up call I received when I got here. With that, please form a study schedule that is properly spaced out and planned timely. Do not leave everything to the last minute. I would advise students to please go to class. I know it’s tempting to skip classes, but trust me, you’ll regret it by the time exams come around. I know I did.

I wish I listened when our high school teachers told us to take our final grade 11 marks seriously. Yes, it ultimately it comes down to your final grade 12 marks, but when you apply they put a lot of weight on your grade 11 marks. I failed to get conditional acceptance the first time I applied to Stellenbosch because of my grade 11 marks, and even though my matric marks were great, it was too late, so I could only enroll this year after reapplying.

My favorite spot on campus would definitely be the Rooiplain. Student life is most vibrant on the Rooiplain. Weekend plans are made, gossip is shared, study notes are exchanged and societies are always on the hunt for new intakes. I live for the buzz. Oh, and on some days, we get to pet puppies as part of the ‘relieve student stress’ initiative started by senior students. I admit this was another reason I skipped certain classes… who doesn’t love puppies?

An interesting fact about Stellenbosch University is that the architecture remains unchanged from its founding days. Much like the overall architecture in Stellenbosch, the university retains its old-age classic 1900s vibe, with a modern touch of course. It stays true to its roots, and I love it.

Did you know?

The origin of the university can be traced back to Stellenbosch Gymnasium, which was founded in 1864 and opened on 1 March 1866.

Facts about Moyo

· She is a poet and is commonly known as Mind Of The Writer.

· Journalism was her first choice of study.

· She has a strong humanitarian heart.

· She gets bored quickly.

· She is funny.

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