Kylie Kingston is one of our Arts Global Scholars, a scholarship program available for Bachelor of Global Studies students. Camille went on Exchange to South Africa, and shared the highlights of her overseas study experience.
The Monash South Africa campus in Johannesburg only has a few stand-out differences from universities in Melbourne – the much improved weather conditions and the small student population size. Going from the massive Clayton campus to the much smaller campus in South Africa, I was a bit apprehensive about being an outsider in a foreign country, however it was soon clear I need not be.
South Africans in general are known for being friendly and welcoming, and coupled with the large number of other international students from other countries, it was easy enough to make long-lasting friendships that will continue post my year abroad.
Living in South Africa for a year provided me with many opportunities that would not have been available had I stayed in Australia. I’ve made friends from around the world (South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Malaysia, Norway, Fiji to name a few…), got to travel extensively throughout southern African during the university breaks (which included skydiving over the Namib desert, searching for animals in national parks, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls and visiting some of the most pristine beaches in the world), and got involved with local university run organisations, including the Monash Saturday School program.
Living in South Africa for a year provided me with many opportunities that would not have been available had I stayed in Australia
To those who have never visited the country, South Africa may appear to be a place to be avoided because of high crime rates or poverty, and while this does exist in some parts of the country, this cannot truly encapsulate the warmth and beauty of both the people and landscape. I saw this particularly through the Monash Saturday School program, a student run initiative, where primary age kids from around Johannesburg who need extra assistance with their school work come to the university for extra tutoring.
At 8am every Saturday morning, 20-30 Monash volunteers come down to campus to help out, first by doing a warm up with the kids (generally includes the Macarena and the “Watch Me Whip/Watch Me Nae Nae” dance for a good half hour), before splitting up for some numeracy and literacy work. This continues on for the rest of the day until lunch time, when the students are provided with a free meal, before hoping back onto buses to head back home. While being up so early on a Saturday morning is not an ideal start to the weekend, the ‘MSS’ volunteers do this week in and week out, all year round.
South Africa is a country of kind and diverse people, stunning scenery and an overall good time. I was fortunate enough to spend a year with some wonderful new people, in a fascinating city with much to learn, and got to spend my time off from university on safaris, on top of mountains or jumping off of planes. Once you get to South Africa you can’t help but be in awe of how much there is to do there, in terms of both getting involved with the local community, or just exploring the country as a whole.