African Renaissance Festival 15-16 August 2019



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Nozipho Zwane - A Cultural Experience

Nozipho Zwane recently returned from completing her master's degree in international relations at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Nozipho's roots are in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal and she went to school at Hillcrest High School. Her undergraduate studies and honours degree were completed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg.

The opportunity to take up an international scholarship not only provided Nozipho with the means to complete her postgraduate studies but also to experience a different culture.

Nozhipo says that her scholarship application was driven by the fact that she had always wanted to pursue her postgraduate studies abroad but had never imagined the possibility of that happening. She said, "I had never travelled to Asia and I thought oh wow - this bursary is an opportunity to experience life in Japan, which has a world leading economy with many advances in technology as well as a very well developed infrastructure."

The eighteen months spent at the Japanese University were highly demanding. Nozipho had to compress a normal two year degree into eighteen months as well as cope with the challenges of living away from home. The intense nature of the course as well as the high expectations of the students ensured that Nozipho not only completed the degree but excelled by obtaining 14 distinctions out of 21 modules.

Although Nozipho did attend some Japanese language classes, the course was offered in English due to the multicultural nature of the university, which is attended by students from many different countries. Nozipho was the only South African on campus which also meant that she represented her country on many occasions.

This aspect was in contrast to life outside of the university. Nozipho highlighted the fact that the Japanese people have a monoculture, which as a South African from a rainbow nation and accustomed to diversity was noteworthy.

Living in a totally new culture had many challenges. Eating totally different food took getting use to. Nozipho says, "Initially, the vegetables and rice or noodles routinely eaten were very bland for someone use to spicy food. I soon appreciated their health benefits." She added that people in Japan have a very healthy lifestyle with a long life expectancy.

Her accommodation consisted of a very small room in a dormitory but Nozipho said that she become too busy to notice its size. In Japan, graduating students leave their furniture for the new intakes to use as disposal of such items comes at a cost. In addition, bicycles, which are used as transport on and around campus are also handed down free of charge to new intakes of students.

The formal nature of the Japanese people as well as the emphasis on politeness and punctuality has changed the way in which she interacts with people. She said. "In Japan, if you do not arrive thirty minutes before an appointment, than you are considered not only late but incompetent and rude."

Career paths also differ, after graduation young people enter into internships within companies and will then remain as loyal employees of that company for the rest of their lives. Nozipho added, "The goal is to
become very specialised in a field of work; there is constant drive to be perfect in everything one does." The other aspect that she noted was the slowness in which some aspects of business life happened. When entering into a business agreement a thorough and careful process is followed.

For anyone considering applying for a bursary to Japan, Nozipho's advice is to take your time and address the requirements carefully ensuring that don't leave everything to the last minute. She added, "The bursaries are every competitive and yours has to stand out for its thoroughness. You also need to sell yourself in positive way now and in your future in the way that you will apply your qualification when
you return to South Africa. Your professionalism is key to your success.

 Nozipho Zwane A Cultural Experience.JPG

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