UKZN Master’s Student Spends a Semester Abroad in Germany
Ms Thulile Sinethemba Mhlangu is back in South Africa after spending five months as an exchange student at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.
Mhlangu, who is pursuing a Master of Social Sciences in Development Studies at UKZN, found the semester abroad personally and academically enriching. ‘The student exchange experience was life-changing and I will always be grateful for it. It was very beneficial for my personal and academic growth,’ said Mhlangu.
Being an exchange student can be daunting, but she welcomed the challenge and learnt a lot about herself and the international community. ‘This was my first time abroad. I had a fair amount of fear and anxiety, however I was very excited for the student exchange experience,’ she said.
‘My fondest memory was celebrating my 25th birthday abroad with the new friends and networks I had established. This was my first time celebrating my birthday without my close family and friends. It was definitely a special moment for myself, and my international friends made it extra special.’
While the medium of instruction in class was English, Mhlangu did an Intensive German A1.1 course, which helped her understand and integrate better into German society.
Challenges included being out of her comfort zone and adjusting to operational differences between Germany and South Africa as well as the university system. She acknowledged the support she received from academic staff, fellow students as well as her family and friends, who helped her adjust.
While she enjoyed her semester abroad, Mhlangu is happy to be back at home in Newlands East, Durban, with her ‘supportive and loving’ family. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking and engaging in adventurous activities.
Her plans for the future include completing her master’s degree and pursuing a career in her field of study locally or internationally. She has a particular interest in development planning, development projects and working towards eradicating social and economic ills.
She has this advice for students looking to broaden their horizons: ‘Your current circumstances should not limit your thinking towards achieving your goals and aspirations. Continue working towards your goals and seek life-changing opportunities.’
Words: Raylene Captain Hasthibeer