My South African experience
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My South African experience

“From meeting my best friend, late nights in the club, waking up with a hangover, and having the best time of my life, to being stressed about my budget, not getting great marks, and waking up at 5am for no pay – I loved it all and will never take it back!”


20-year old Ropafadzo Kuhuni is in her third year of studies at The International Hotel School. Originally from Zimbabwe, with Shona as her first language, Ropa now lives in Cape Town, where she’s studying Hospitality Management at the IHS Cape Town campus.

We chatted to Ropa about her experience of studying through IHS in South Africa…

Ropa

Ropa and her friend, Arthur, both IHS students, at Cape Point in the Western Cape.

Q: Why did you choose to study hospitality management through IHS?

“IHS had the best offer for my tertiary education needs, and was the leading recommended Hotel School. I chose to study management because it’s the area in which I feel I have the most to learn, and where my strengths are suited.”

Q: What do you think of South Africa?

“I think South Africa has a new, fresh experience to offer. There is so much you can do, experience and learn from a country that is also learning to grow further.

I had visited South Africa many times before I arrived, and Cape Town was the city I loved seeing the most and wanted to experience. My opinion now is much the same as it was before, in that South Africa is a great place to live.

It has so much to offer the world, and shows how great African nations can potentially be in the future. The natural features are magnificent – the Kruger, Cango Caves, Bungee jumping, the ocean, and Sun City – and the level of service is of a good standard.”

Q: What have you enjoyed about studying in South Africa?

“I’ve enjoyed experiencing things like walking up Table Mountain, eating sushi for the first time, and meeting great new personalities.

The biggest benefit is the experience. It provides growth and an opportunity to ultimately be a better person. The things you learn, you are then able to take back to your home country and help their systems to be better.”

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge for you?

“My biggest problem was the experiential learning. Although I enjoyed it, it was an experience that tested character and how much I really wanted to study hospitality. I was exposed to the reality of life, and waking up at 5am every day of the week was particularly unpleasant. I got used to it though, and became a better person for it.

Time away from family and having to adapt to a new culture is the worst part of international study. You have to be prepared to take responsibility for your own life in all matters. There won’t be parents looking over your shoulder to make sure you are alright.”

Q: What was your first impression of IHS?

“I was extremely nervous about what my future would be, who I would meet and what I would do without my parents! I felt nervous, excited and happy to learn new things.

I wasn’t very impressed with the appearance of the residence though. I couldn’t believe the white walls! My dad said: ‘IHS is student life, grin and bear it!’

It took me about a week to settle in. The induction programme of paintball really helped with me getting new friends and feeling more at ease.”

Q: When you look back on your studies, what will you remember most fondly?

“I will remember most fondly one of the most generous women in the school – Ms. Friedricks. I will never forget her curry, the chats we had, and her genuine personality.”

Q: What will you take away with you from your IHS studies and stay in South Africa?

“The social life has been great. Meeting new friends who became like family, who I shared the same experiences with. The friends I met will be in my heart forever.

Gaining knowledge in a new environment. My experiences have been pleasant at IHS. I appreciate that it was a stepping stone into the future. I’m grateful for the lecturers and their sound advice.

I was pleasantly surprised with the content we were studying, and the hotels we were placed at. IHS offers an opportunity to meet new people from diverse backgrounds, to share experiences with them, and leave with friends all over the world.

I leave with a more diverse knowledge of the world and a valuable experience of living without my parents. I enjoyed growing up!”

Q: Any advice for other international students?

“I suggest that they be prepared emotionally to face the challenges of living alone and being far away from home.”

Q: Your top 10 things to do and see while studying in SA?

“1. Visit the Kruger National Park and Cango Caves.

2. Take a roadtrip to Knysna and bungee jump.

3. Take advantage of your student card at all times.

4. Shop in Canal Walk.

5. NEVER walk up Table Mountain unless you are a health freak!

6. Eat at Spur on a Monday.

7. Visit Stellenbosch for drinking purposes.

8. Never accumulate supplementary exams until 3rd Year.

9. Try and stick to your budget.

10. Always find cheap flights on http://www.travelstart.co.za”