The University of Pretoria (UP) recently held a special orientation to welcome exchange students who will be attending the University during the second semester. This international cohort marks the first arrival of students from abroad since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cohort, which was given a tour of UP, comprises 73 students from UP’s partner universities in Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Japan, as well as elective students from the Czech Republic and Nigeria.
“Student exchanges are a reciprocal arrangement between UP and numerous universities globally,” said Setsipane Mokoduwe, Head of International Cooperation in the Department of Research and Innovation. “These arrangements afford students an opportunity to study at partner universities for one or two semesters, and allow them to experience and learn from their peers the different cultures, perspectives and customs in another country. This international experience also affords the students opportunities to establish global networks and build resilience, and contributes to building global graduates and global citizens.”
Exchange students from UP’s partner universities.
For some students, this is the first time that they have travelled outside of Europe, and the experience seems to be a fruitful and enjoyable one thus far.
“Out of all the options that I could choose, I decided to go with UP,” said Ebba van Merwijk, who attends Leiden University in the Netherlands. “I have never been outside of Europe; I also want to break my own stereotype of Africa, especially South Africa, and UP seems like a great school. I am happy to be here.”
“I have never been to Africa before, so I thought coming here would be a great opportunity,” said Viivi Ropponen of Erasmus University in Rotterdam. “I opted for UP because I had heard a lot of positive feedback from previous exchange students, so I thought, why not. I am loving it so far; people here are really warm and welcoming.”
“I am interested in the colonial history of the Netherlands and learning about South Africa’s past apartheid regime and post-apartheid era,” said James Steijger of the University of Amsterdam, who is in South Africa to do fieldwork for his dissertation. “I am loving UP thus far!”
UP students are also encouraged to explore study opportunities abroad wherever possible. The International Office is available to assist with information in this regard.
“Student exchanges are a key driver of internationalisation in the University, and these students will add to the rich tapestry of diversity on campus,” Mokoduwe said. “The presence of these students is an opportunity for our local students to embrace, connect and engage with the broad international community on campus.”