In the news: All around the world bright-eyed young students are leaving home to start at university. A new phase of life. Every country has its own conventions. What is it like to go off to college in Zimbabwe?
Commentaries by Matthew Wedzerai, second-year Animal Sciences and Blessing Chitanda, second-year International Development Studies. Both from Zimbabwe.
Matthew: ‘Most Zimbabwean students live on campus. There is the right atmosphere there and everything is geared to being able to study, and it is cheap to live there. It saves a lot of money if you don’t have to catch a bus every day. Everyone has their own room and there are shops and a canteen. You only leave campus to do nice things like go out or go to the cinema.’
Blessing: ‘I shifted from the capital Harare to a small town to study. During the orientation week, the Dean of students introduces us to the various clubs, student boards, sporting activities and health facilities. The week ends with a party. I didn’t attend it because I don’t really like an atmosphere of flirting and drinking. I prefer to socialize with people and hear their experiences in a quieter setting. There is lots of intermingling of first year students with seniors, making life in a new university easier than in Holland.’
Matthew: In Zimbabwe, going off to study means becoming more independent. I have known how to cook since I was eight, and doing the laundry and cleaning was not new to me either. What was new was having money of my own, which I borrowed from the government. I saved money by sharing a room with a friend, even thought that wasn’t officially allowed. What is more, I didn’t have to pay back my loan; inflation was so high at that time that it was worth very little, so it was annulled.’
Blessing: When you go to university in Zimbabwe you learn to dress better. Students sense the dress codes: stylish jeans and t-shirts. There is freedom to wear what you want, away from conservative parents or schools that previously imposed strict rules.