Studying in the States is a dream of many and today we bring to you one of many episodes to come. Minneapolis is a major city in Minnesota that forms “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of St. Paul.
Get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, which ever you prefer and get reading as Tulela Nashandi spills the tea.
I am Nelago Tulela Nashandi and I was born 20 years ago in Ondangwa, Namibia and raised in Windhoek. I currently live in the US, in a State that experience about 5 months of snow called Minnesota in the Twin-Cities.
I am studying at Augsburg University which is a private institution pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Augsburg is located in Minneapolis and has a student population of about  and fun fact: Augsburg has a center in Windhoek called Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) where one can get information or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuition in the US varies from state to state, private and public and for international and local students. For instance in Minnesota for a small public university the cost for tuition excluding other fees could be USD13, 227 and for private university it could go up to USD43,590.
As an international student you are required to have medical insurance (medical aid) which can cost about about USD 2500 per year depending on the insurance your institution is enroll to.
Scholarships opportunities are best searched for through the university where you enrolled. Most schools in the US have many scholarships on offer; it is therefore worth emailing the international office at your university to inquire about funding. Try to work closely with your international recruiter or advisor as they will usually know what scholarships are eligible for international students.
Lastly don’t forget institutions in Namibia with social corporate responsibilities in line with your field of study including NSFAF. Although the money doesn’t seem much, once they are stacked up it can reduce your out-of- pocket funds.
Most universities have dorms (hostel) similar to Namibia. I live on campus in a traditional style dorm where you basically have a roommate and a community bathroom. Most freshmen are required to live in these dorms. After your first year you can choose which housing you want to live in, some halls have apartment or townhouse styles as well as the option of suites.
Furthermore, you are required to have a meal plan which allows you to eat up to 15 meals per week. All freshmen are required to take the 15-meal plan) which happens to be the most expensive. I honestly did not use all 15 of my meals, so I would say after the first year, take the cheapest or a lower meal plan. As a student you are always on the go and you won’t have time to go to the cafeteria for morning, lunch and dinner. Accommodation is what makes College expensive, but it has many benefits and in the long run can be cheaper. As International students, especially being Namibian, you will find it difficult to make friends if you live off campus.
If you plan on studying in the US, the most important thing is to take your SAT tests which is used to compare you with other local students. You can borrow a book to study for your SATs and find more information at the American Cultural Center in Independence Avenue where,
For documents make sure your passport is valid for the period you will be in the US. Best is to renew it before you apply for a study visa.. You will also have to apply for a visa which does not take very long but plan ahead in case you are rejected and have to apply again.
SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!
And lastly save money! Applying for all the above mentioned takes money. Save at least N$3 000 just for you paperwork alone in Namibia. Things can get tricky because most of your paperwork prices are set in USD and the exchange rate fluctuates so be prepared just in case it ends up being more than you initially calculated.
When you think of the United States you have to remember that it is vast and think of it as a continent with different countries. Hence, what you experience in one state is not the same as in another state. The Twin-Cities have a large population of immigrants, and my experience is that people here are understanding and kind to newcomers. I have not experienced much racism and I do not fear walking around the city. Thus, when searching for universities keep in mind the environment you are going to and what type of state it is. Red states where republicans are the majority voters, will have more conservative views which is less welcoming to immigrants and that is usually where the likelihood of experiencing racism is higher. Read up on the international community in that state. If you have a friend who knows a friend, talk to them to find out how the environment is like.
PROS AND CONS:
There are so many possibilities; your options are literally endless.
- You are exposed to many different cultures and people from all over the world meaning that you’ll build a global network.
- Academic support is well established
- I attend a liberal arts school and therefore, exposed to a multitude of topics and issues outside of my field of study. It is shaping me to be a well-rounded individual as well as a better leader.
- It’s expensive depending on the exchange rate for instance that 10USD is about 133 NAD. Living in the US can be challenging if you are receiving financial support from home only. the exchange rate.
- Finding a job can also be challenging because of the immigration rules. For instance you may only be allowed to work for 20 hours a week. Hence, departments prefer to hire nationals as they are reluctant to orientate themselves with immigration regulations.
- There is a perception about Africans and who we are. Most people are surprised that I have been speaking English my entire life. It can be very demoralising and can get you down if you allow it to. Also nobody ever knows what or where Namibia is and having to explain that it’s a country in Southern Africa right above South Africa gets tiring. If you are not strong-willed, proud and have a good sense of identity you can easily allow these things to break you down and feel like an outsider.
I am the only Namibian and southern African at my University. I met two other undergraduate students in Minnesota attending other universities. In my opinion the Namibian community in the US is small and there are not many young people. Most students are loners at their universities.
Your support system is usually other international students because they understand what it feels like to be homesick or to be discriminated against for being an immigrant. I struggled to make friends s when I first got here because I was alone, nobody knew anything about the place I called home and I couldn’t relate to anyone. When people recommended African restaurants or invited me to eat African food. It was either an east or west African restaurant or jollof rice and plantains, which is not what I eat at home. All I longed for was Kapana, Mahangu and Ontaku.
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