BiTS student Sebastian Babe spends his study abroad semester at the Universiteit/University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. This is his story.
How do you describe something that cannot be described? How do you compare something that cannot be compared? A friend of a friend once said: “It is so similar and still so very different. Every student who arrives at Stellenbosch asks himself: “When has South Africa become a part of Europe?”
The place feels like a vibrant European city filled with students. There are bicycles everywhere and of course some cars. Everything offered including the prices are tailored to the needs of students. A huge shopping area, sports shops, restaurants, fast-food-chains, hair dressers, grocery stores and department stores are located around the University campus. But something is different. It is the people who make the difference. They always greet you with a friendly “How´s it?” Life is more easy-going in South Africa and people are not stressed out, even if they have to wait in line for two hours at the grocery store.
This is also obvious at the Universiteit/University of Stellenbosch. Every lecture takes 60 Minute and attendance in mandatory. But still, some students only show up at the end of the class and the teachers take it with a sense of humor. They greet the later-comers with comments such as “Did you enjoy the lecture?” or “Welcome, glad you made it“. The most common excuse is that they got lost on campus, since it is so big and one needs a map to get around. Students are expected to obtain credits. Every class requires an exam or term paper and the results add up to 40% of the final grade.
There are also a lot of entertainment possibilities on campus outside the classrooms. The student initiatives are called Societies. Students can get involved in sports such as soccer, rugby or tennis, theatre and music or even wine tasting and cooking classes. Inside the on-campus shopping mall there is a movie theatre. For international students ISOS (International Students of Stellenbosch) offers additional activities. You can engage in voluntary work in the townships, go to concerts of South African bands, participate in cooking competitions or go shark diving .
From February to May, Monday is the most important day of the week, because it is Rugby-day. The Stellenbosch students and their student teams are called the Maties. They are the most successful university-team in South Africa and they compete at the Varsity (University) Cup every year. The University stadium is called the Danie Craven and it holds up to 17.000 students who celebrate their team regardless of the final score. ”Dis altyd lente in die öe van die Stellenbosch Studente. Van die Studente sonder sente dis altyd lente“ is their slogan. Translated from Afrikaans it means: It is always spring in the eyes of the Stellenbosch students, for the exceptional students it is always spring.
On the picture: Away game of the Maties at the UCT in Cape Town. Sebastian from BiTS Hamburg, Kaya und Franziska from BiTS Iserlohn und Nora from BiTS Hamburg.