Life in Namibia has been good. People here don’t worry too much about things that are not in their hands – the common way is to just relax and see what tomorrow brings. This has been a slight culture shock but after eight weeks in the capital of Namibia, Windhoek, I’m starting to get used to it. Wondering how big the culture shock will be when I get back to Finland…
I’ve been doing my practical training as a student of bachelor of social services through Flyinternship organization. My main project has been working with Windhoek Football Club and combining life skills with soccer with kids mostly under fifteen. Besides working there I’ve spent some days at a center for people with special needs. All of this has been really eye opening, life changing and simply just amazing.
Spare time here has been wonderful. Getting to know the Namibian culture especially. People here also now how to party so few of my sundays have been quite lazy when recovering from a big big party. I have had no problems at all with the local people although we were warned about certain things – none of them haven’t yet happened to us.
The way work here is is completely different from the way of Finland. I mean completely. During the day here it’s normal to go for a beer for example. Meaning of time is also totally different. When a Namibian says that the work starts at eight it usually means that they will show up at nine. Salaries here are also really low and the unequality has a huge role to play.
Summa summarum: I love this country and will come back later. That’s for sure.
My name is Eero and I’m studying to become a bachelor of social services. Me and my two friends decided to do our second years practical training aboard and so we chose Windhoek which is the capital of Namibia. We’re social coaches and teachers of social skills in Windhoek Football Club and we are working with kids who are under 19, 15 and 9. All the age groups have their own teams, so altogether we are working with 60 kids. At the first, the kids were shy and quiet but they are slowly becoming out of their shells. You can’t compare working culture in Namibia with working culture in Finland, things are so different here. For example “time” has no meaning here, in Finland when the day begins at 8am it begins at 8am, here the day may begin at 12am or 2pm. One local said: “Swiss make clocks, Germans know the time and Namibians have the time.” That metaphor is 100% true.
Things are ok here, Namibia is a very dry and hot country so it was quite a shock when we arrived here three weeks ago. When we left, in Finland there was -4 degrees and finally after 36 hours of traveling we arrived in Namibia and here it was +36 degrees. Namibian people are polite and friendly and they have quite strange sense of humour. We are truly enjoying life here, because we like working with Windhoek Football Club and all of their players – they are magnificent people. We’ve also met a lot of locals and they are so kindhearted in every possible way. People just don’t act this way back in Finland.
And of course, beer is cheap and the food is just great. Namibians don’t eat so much vegetables so this is a heaven for carnivore like me. I still miss Finnish vegetables almost every day…
Below, you can find some pictures so you can see how things are going here.
So, all in all, these are going well and we got still seven weeks left. I’m sure I’m going to miss all the lovely people I’ve met here.
Coming for practical training to Namibian winter for three months was one of the most spontaneous, stupid and best things that I have done. I exchanged summer in Finland, a practical training with a salary and my friends, to an unknown environment and work.
I always wanted to go somewhere exotic for practical training, so I could expose myself to different opinions and culture. When I read an article of Namibia in Rakennuslehti, a Finnish magazine for construction engineers, I knew I should try to get in there. So I contacted the writer of the article. She guided me to one Namibian engineer and after few emails there was no way out anymore. Arranging everything went fast and without trouble.
I came to Namibia in the beginning of May. The first two months of training went fast, everything was new and exciting. After two months the days have slowed down and certain routines and habits has taken place in the mind and life. Now when my training is soon over, work days have the same pattern, and I feel like I have received the cultural education I came here for.
Namibia is mostly desert and Windhoek is surrounded with mountains, which are great for hiking during weekends. The climate of Namibian Winter is very nice. Even though it is called winter the temperature during days is always above 20°c but in the nights it can go below 10°c. Windhoek has 3605 hours of sunshine in one year (Helsinki has 1858 hours) and after my arrival I have seen clouds five times. I have been lucky to visit some projects like Ai-Ais hot spring spa in Fish river Canyon. I also visited the coast and huge sand dunes in Walvis Bay.
In Namibia you can hear many languages spoken around you. The official language is English but there is a great amount of national languages. They are Oshiwambo (the heading and greeting in the end), German, Afrikaans, Otjiherero, Khoekhoegowab, Rukwangali, Setswana and Silozi. What I heard most from the smaller languages were Oshiwambo and Afrikaans.
Night life in Windhoek is flourishing there huge amount bars or clubs in the city. There are modern shopping malls with Western brands, good cafes and restaurants. If you still end up hungry you can find locals selling fruits and fresh Braai (BBQ) meat and Biltong dried meat from countless places around the city, along roads and inside stores. during my spare time I hang out with my boss’s son, he shows me the city of Windhoek, the good and bad in it.
My boss studied in Technical University of Tampere and many engineers have studied abroad in England, Russia or Cuba. In work this reflects as enthusiasm for engineering and long hardworking days in the office. In this company Africa time does not exist. Superiors are addressed as Sirs, Mrs’s or Miss’s and dress code is smart and casual. All these might sound strict for a Finn, but after you get used to it everything comes out naturally without thinking. My work is mostly done with a computer with modern engineering programs like AutoCAD, so the work itself is not so different than in Finland.
That’s the name of the National Anthem of one relatively young country located in Southern Africa called Namibia. It is also how Namibian people describe themselves. It is a land of many different ethnic groups living together nowadays in peace.
Going on exchange to Namibia was an easy decision after all. I didn’t know a lot about the country before I came here, so the decision was spontaneous. I only knew its location, language and a little bit of its geography. Like the photo shows, the whole land is basically a desert. Very few people live there and big cities are not to be found. However, the few people here are very friendly and warm. I never felt as if I wasn’t welcome.
Getting bored here is not an option. Even though it might sound like a place with not much to do, it is not the case. National parks with all the animals that you could wish to see, canyons, waterfalls, mountains and coast towns provide numbers of different kind of activities – just to mention a few. Local people love to take you to their homes and introduce you to their way of life, and it is always easy to get to know these laid back Africans.
The daily life is actually very similar to ours. People go to work, study and in the evening they do sports and maybe have some drinks at local bars. Or at least that’s the case in big towns. In the countryside you can find what we Finns usually think of as Africa, small villages with many various tribes, people hunting, clay huts and camp fires. Notable is that there is a big number of bars in small towns, with a lovely atmosphere.
Studying in Africa isn’t that different either. At least not at the universities. I got the opportunity to study at the Polytechnic of Namibia with approximately 12 000 other students. The classes resemble ours very closely. So called “African time” doesn’t exist that strongly there, some of the lecturers are even very strict with the timetables. Topics and the learning plans are just like the Finnish ones, and the premises are also fine. Sometimes projects with local people are a bit challenging due to the laid back attitude of the locals.
After all, I couldn’t be happier with the choice of going on exchange to Africa. Awesome people, many other exchange students, a laid back atmosphere and the spectacular landscape of Africa have made my time here unique.
I’ve now spent almost four months on the African continent in Namibia and I have to say I really like it.
I stay at a student house with around 40 other people who are mainly from Namibia. There are also some students from different African countries like Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Malawi so it’s very easy to learn the African way of doing things.
The level of competitiveness and teaching at the Polytechnic of Namibia are very near to the standards I’ve gotten used to back home but my studies are not so hard that they keep me from doing other things like travelling around the country which I’ve done a lot already.
The Namibian wildlife is totally amazing. Of course there are the also many beautiful places to visit too.
I hope I still get to experience loads of different stuff and take these awesome memories with me back home to Finland!