Interview about University of Pretoria (UP)
An interview with Kirsten van Dalen
Instagram: @k._vandalen and @trouvaili
Check these out for more infromation and some amazing pictures!
How did you find where to spend your semester abroad?
I always wanted to go to South Africa, so I discovered the available universities in South Africa via the Study Abroad section of the RUG website and compared them.
What were the requirements for you to go to this place?
None. Although the visa requires a lot of documents and other specifics.
What was/is your favourite sightseeing there?
That's a really hard question, because South Africa has so much to offer! The Apartheidsmuseum in Johannesburg is a must-see for everyone, I also highly recommend the landscapes of Drakensbergen, a safari in Krugerpark, or visiting one of the many markets in the neighbourhood.
What was/is your favourite local food there?
Malva pudding - this dessert, served with vanilla sauce, is delicious!
Was/is there many spaces to relax?
Yes, especially on the campus itself. UP has six campuses of which Hatfield Campus is the largest and which offers a lot of grass to chill outside. Also, the Hillcrest Sport Campus is a beautiful place to go for a walk, have a braai (i.e. BBQ), or play sports.
Did/do you practice any sports there?
No, I don't, but it's one of the best universities to play a lot of sports on a high level.
Did/do you go out a lot? If so, where?
We have gone out several times. Often, we go to Latino's, Jolly's, The Block, The Summit, festivals, and some people also go out in Johannesburg.
What did/do you think of the university? The location? The buildings? The teachers? The study programme?
I love the university; it's huge and quite well organized. The campus is big and has a lot of nice places to study, to eat, and to chill. As South Africa is not that safe, the campus is perfectly located, because it's very close to the residences. There is a lot of freedom and choice in the classes you can follow. Some classes have really high educational levels with very good professors, while some first-year classes had less educative content and teachers were less experienced. Overall, critical thinking is highly appreciated, and I discovered a lot of new perspectives in the active lectures.
How did/does it go financially? The accommodation? Food? Public transports?
Financially, South Africa is in general a bit cheaper than The Netherlands. You can especially save a lot of money on the accommodation compared with Groningen. Going out for lunch or dinner is also quite cheap. However, food in the supermarket is as expensive as The Netherlands and sometimes even more expensive. For transport, I often use the Uber, which can become expensive, except if you share it with others. Keep in mind that the area of Pretoria is cheaper than the region of Cape Town.
What was the most surprising thing about this new culture?
The biggest surprise was actually how kind and open all the people are. Everyone greets you with 'Goodmorning, how are you?' and they genuinely expect an answer.
What is the funniest word you learned in the language?
South Africa has 11 official languages. In Afrikaans, I like the word hysbakke which means 'elevator', because it's a very literal explanation of the thing itself. Furthermore, I like the word Minjhani? which is a greeting in Tsonga and has the same meaning as the famous 'how are you?'.
What did/do you think of the workload?
The workload is quite doable. The content of the courses is not that hard, but especially the first-year courses have a lot of assignments during the semester which take a lot of time.
Did/do you meet any international students?
Yes, I now know at least 50 international exchange students, mostly from Europe, and live with the majority together in the houses in the Tuksdorp Residence.
Gradings are given on a scale from 1-10.
Location of the University
(hard to reach <-> close by)
Most residences are located on short walking distance from the campus.
Infrastructure/technology in the University
(no equipment <-> advanced application)
Technology is well provided and often of good quality, however, some computers are a bit slow.
Language requirements (English suffices <-> Official Language)
English is the main language of communication and used everywhere. Sometimes, one of the other 10 official languages is used for a specific word, which can create some confusion.
The study programme
(easy <-> difficult)
The difficulty of the study programme really depends on the courses you choose. Often, the content is of good quality, but quite doable. The many assignments and mandatory classes can sometimes be a lot.
(informal <-> formal)
The relationships between students-professors are quite formal during lectures. However, they are easily accessible by email or Consultation Hours in which they are more informal.
Students from Dutch universities
(few <-> a lot)
A lot. The students from Dutch universities are the most represented among the international exchange students.
(few international students <-> many international students)
There are quite a lot of international exchange students, which also makes sense because of the size of the university. Although there are more international students in general, almost everyone from the exchange students is from Europe (except of two Japanese).
Points of Interest
(not so many <-> lots of museums etc.)
In the direct neighbourhood of Pretoria, there are not a lot of places to visit. Otherwise, you can visit the Union Buildings, Voortrekkersmonument or several markets.
(only local food <-> great variety of restaurants)
There are a lot of restaurants available, although most serve junkfood. Meat, burgers and fries are well- represented.
(none <-> several natural parks/recreational parks)
Although Pretoria itself does not have a lot of parks, there are beautiful mountains and a huge amount of nature reserve parks with all kinds of Big 5 animals in a few hours driving distance.
(limited <-> many options/extra courses)
University of Pretoria is well-known because of all its sport facilities and sport opportunities on high levels. It also has other associations and extra options.
(limited <-> many theatres/cinemas/pubs)
Pretoria's big malls have a lot of cinema's, restaurants and other things to do. Going out is not very diverse, but there are certainly nice clubs to go out.
(expensive <-> cheap)
Buying lunch or dinner is quite cheap. Food in the supermarket is quite expensive.
(difficult to find & expensive <-> easy & affordable)
Via the RUG it was quite easy to acquire
accommodation and it is also not very expensive.
(difficult to acquire <-> very easy to acquire)
Funds are easy to acquire via RUG, but they'll take some time to be received.
(expensive <-> cheap)
Eating out is relatively cheap.
(expensive <-> cheap)
Public transport is not widely available. The best means of transport are Ubers or the Gautrain. They
can be expensive but if you split the costs of an Uber for example with other students, it is affordable.
(expensive <-> cheap)
Going out is cheap. No entry costs and beers (and especially cocktails) are way cheaper than in the Netherlands.