Students gathered around the fountain to enjoy performances at the International Festival. Photo by Magnificent Mndebele.

WORD ON THE STREET: Does Living In A Foreign Country Really Change Your Frame Of Reference?

Diversity Week is that special time of the year when local students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) get to learn about different countries and cultures while in the comfort of their own home country. Some students have had the privilege of experiencing these cultures first-hand when they visited and lived in foreign countries.

Not all of us have the luxury to travel to a different part of the world. So The Open Journal decided to ask students at UJ who have lived outside of their home country to tell us what they felt was the most exciting thing about being on foreign soil.

Esther Chukwu, 20, Imo State, Nigeria, studies Human Resource Management at UJ

Esther Chukwu

“The most exciting thing about living in a different country would obviously be the culture. The way this country (South Africa) does it things, even when you’re catching a taxi.

Everything is just so different, the way they do things the way they talk, the way they relate [to] other people it’s very different. The people, the country, the different cultures, the way they do things, the food as well, in this country they love meat and pap.”







Prince Makhubo, 21, Soweto, studied Psychology at Bridgwater College in Virginia, USA

Prince Makhubo

“The most exciting thing about living in a different country is the cultural variation and having to grow as a person in a completely different setting. It’s almost like you’re a little child again, having to learn directions, a different way of speaking and physiological changes as well, bowel movements even, which was not fun *laughs*.

I also made friends from around the world, and the travelling was also insightful. It’s a very surreal feeling when you set foot on some of the places you only saw on the TV. The connections I also made are very helpful, as it has helped with my transferring to Bridgewater College as a full-time student.”


Lillian Bouvrie, 21, Utrecht, Netherlands, studies Psychology at UJ

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-19 at 19.04.02

“I think the most exciting thing about living in a different country is really getting to experience their way of living. It’s way different than just being on a long holiday where you don’t really interact with people much.

I [got to] study here in Joburg now and really got to know and become friends with people who are born and raised here. This way you start to understand why people behave the way they do [and] what their habits are.

The world has just so much diversity and I think that’s a beautiful thing. By living in a different country, you can taste just a little piece of that which I think really helps me grow as a person.”




Lebogang Mokoena, 25, Soweto, Johannesburg, volunteered at Waldorfpädagogik Havelhöhe Kindergarten in Kladow in Berlin, Germany

Lebogang Mokoena

“You gain a global perspective and I think that’s one thing that’s really nice about being far from home. You start [coming] out of your comfort zone where you actually get to see how other people are living, how other people think. The political space, the economic space, how people undertake their day-to-day lifestyle.

Besides gaining a global perspective, I think for me going to a different country also helped me to get to learn a lot. You get to expand [your thinking on] critical issues about the world, politics and you also get a chance to dispel the myths.

For me going out was actually broader than just volunteering. I think just going out and not being home made me understand also how Africa is viewed and South Africa is viewed and some of the stereotypes and drawbacks that are still seen overseas. And actually getting to see that the so-called first world actually has a lot of flaws and there are a lot of things that are not so perfect about the so-called first world. But I also got a chance to explore a lot, to learn a different language, to understand how people think in a different society, so this was really fantastic for me.”


Cliffton Davis, 20, Brunswick, Georgia USA, studies Political Science at UJ

Cliffton Davis



“Opening myself to embrace new cultures, beliefs and food. Connecting with people from across the world is truly a sign of the interconnected society that I look to uphold.”






On Friday UJ will host its annual International Festival, which marks the end of diversity week. The event will be held at the fountain of UJ’s Auckland Park Kingsway Campus. Students will get free access to live artistic performances and will get to taste food from across the continent and around the world.

About Xiletelo Mabasa 21 Articles
Xiletelo Mabasa is a passionate young journalist who describes herself as a “great ball of happiness” and her greatest shortfall is her love for all things ranging from politics to fashion. She is currently enrolled as an Honours student at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University. In between her studies, Xiletelo works as the Entertainment Editor and Social Media Manager for The Open Journal. After completing her studies she would like to pursue her Masters in Journalism. A lover of all things digital (but mostly Twitter) she also hopes to venture into both broadcast and print media and is excited to see which will come first. She is currently working on making her mark in the blogosphere.

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