Kuehne Logistics University

Master of Science in Global Logistics | Part 5


Sören · 2014 - 2016

Published: 8 February 2016 | by Sören

My Semester Abroad

The third semester at Kuehne Logistics University (KLU) is a mandatory semester abroad - as part of the MSc in Global Logistics program. KLU offers many opportunities: the university has partnerships with 50 universities throughout the entire world. I am sure at least one will meet your expectations – either from the academic or the cultural perspective.

My exchange semester took me to Africa! I dreamed of going to Namibia since the beginning of my studies at KLU. When people asked me why Namibia and not another place like Singapore, Shanghai or Amsterdam, my answer was very simple. I can learn a lot of theory in many places but to really learn about the Namibian/African culture, behavior and distribution system, I simply had to go there. And Africa is certain to be a major topic for the future! Besides the educational arguments, I often heard about Africa's beauty – and I can truly confirm this.

Preparation for the journey

So, I was admitted to NUST – Namibia University of Science and Technology. I had to book my flight, find a place to stay, and take care of medical issues. Namibia Windhoek has the second most competitive housing market in the world! This made it difficult to find an affordable single room – at student conditions of course. Most of the students stayed in the dorm rooms offered by hostels and shared houses. A typical Namibian rent costs 3,500 NAD/month for a dorm bed and about 7,000-8,000 NAD/month for a single room. The best way to find accommodation in Windhoek is to use the “Praktikantenbroschüre” published by the GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in Windhoek.

I recommend checking which vaccinations are required for the destination. Depending on the health insurance you have, the costs may be covered to nearly 100%. But vaccinations are not the only important issue. Make an appointment with a dentist before going abroad! Medical insurance for teeth is only paid in limited amounts to patients outside Germany. You also need suitable health insurance. If you want to visit a foreign country, think about whether you might need the emergency pick up supplement (depending on the activities you have planned).

Departure and Arrival

I arrived at Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport and quickly found my driver, who NUST organized and paid for. After an approx. 45-minute drive I, finally arrived at my new home. The house I lived in is a big, shared house including a nice pool. It was a good place to get nicely sunburned on my days off (Windhoek is at an altitude of 1,700 m). But remember that winter and summer are the other way around in the southern hemisphere and when I arrived it was winter! During the day it was possible to warm up outside and enjoy 23-degree temperatures. But it could get down to 6 degrees at night. This does not sound really cold, but the houses in Namibia do not have insulation like they do in Germany. This meant going to bed with three t-shirts, a sweater, trousers and a big wool blanket on top of my regular blanket. Around the end of July, things got better.

Next, I wanted to explore Windhoek! My first stop was the university campus, which was around 70 meters away from my home. The second most important stop was the supermarkets in my area, which are Pick and Pay and a small local shop. Of course a city like Windhoek also has some nightlife. There are many places to go and Namibians are very open-minded. They like to talk to strangers. The best thing to find in the restaurants is the game meat. If you order it, have it medium-rare.

Organization and support from NUST

Admission at a partner university is not guaranteed because your home university accepted your application. You also have to apply to enroll as an exchange student at NUST. In regular cases, this should not be a problem. NUST helped with my study application and my visa, so I didn’t have to deal with the Immigration Office. As I already mentioned, they organized my free pick-up from the airport and made sure I arrived safely at my place.

Soon after my arrival, the International Office organized a get-together and an introduction to Namibia for all the exchange students. During that meeting, they explained the do's and don’ts for reducing the risk of being a victim of a crime and which places are most interesting ones to visit in Namibia. We also met our buddies, whom we could ask questions like how to use the online tools at NUST. My buddy Rudolph did not stop there. For instance, he took me to local museums where I could learn about the traditional ways of life of Namibian tribes and the Independence Museum of Namibia. When you travel to a foreign country, you want to know some of the historical events to understand the culture better – and a local is the best person to tell you about those things. Of course we met many times, and I had the pleasure of meeting his family and some of his good friends.

During my time at NUST, we received several invitations for social events like the Food Festival, the Mr. and Mrs. Polytechnic election, the Dancing Show, concerts, etc. I really can report that the Polytechnic takes good care of their exchange students! The only negative thing is that it takes extraordinarily long to grade exams. I wrote them in December and expect to receive my results in March at the earliest...

Lectures

Unfortunately, this was not an extended holiday. Instead, I was doing a university semester in another country. Due to the structure of my KLU program, I was only supposed to take courses worth 20 ECTS points. I chose Managing Communication, Organizational Behavior & Ethics, Financial Accounting & Control, and Service Operations Management.

The first two courses were part of the change management MSc. The other subjects were part of the MBA course. Overall, I can say that the lecturers were highly qualified and I had a good time with the people I met in class – in both courses. To my delight, the MBA class organized a surprise good-bye event for me that I will never forget!!
At this point, I want to say that you cannot always count on doing business the German way. As soon as business encounters another culture, it is important to understand the values that drive the people of that culture. This is the only way to establish successful, sustainable cooperation.

Trips

During my semester in Namibia I went on three big trips. Our first destination was Swakopmund, where we had the chance to see the Namibian coast, where it is much cooler than in the hinterland. Our next destination was Omaruru, where we stayed on a guest farm in the middle of nowhere. One day we went to visit the SAN people. The SAN are a tribe who live according to their ancestral tradition. They only use products they can find in nature and they were offered a free space to settle to show tourists their own way of life. Upon our arrival, I was surprised at how good the guide's English was. He explained everything from how the SAN build their houses, hunt and make fire to how they produce crafts and which plants they use to make soap. Being in a traditional village with traditional people was fascinating.

Etosha, Namibia’s national park, shelters a diversity of wildlife. While driving through it, you can easily see hundreds of antelopes, elephants, lions, giraffes, and more. Of course you see some animals more often than others: most predators rest during the day and prefer to show up at night. Our next stops were Twyfelfontein, the Skeleton Coast, Swakopmund, and BuellsPort. One of the highlights was Fish River Canyon, the second biggest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. A shuttle transports ambitious hikers to the access point, which is about 90 km away from the camp. We had to take all our food and equipment with us. There was no toilet, no shower and no shop for replenishing our resources. There are only two emergency exits in the canyon and of course there is no regular cell phone network. This is why before entering the canyon, you sign that in an emergency, one person will stay with the wounded person and the other one will organize the helicopter transport, which costs around €20,000. On our hike we saw many graves…

This is only a fraction of what I experienced in Namibia. If you want to know more, please send me an e-mail. I would like to say thank you to all the nice people I met in Namibia and how happy I am to have had such a wonderful time there! I am definitely going back for a visit.

All the best,
Sören

MSc in Global Logistics
Kuehne Logistics University

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