Don’t let anyone tell you how to use your opportunity

Bertha Tobias

My name is Bertha Tobias. I started university in August 2020 at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. I am studying international relations (IR), majoring in international relations and minoring in leadership. This is a bachelor’s undergrad degree for four years.

The process of applying to a foreign country was relatively pleasant because of the school that I attended. The process on its own took me about a year but the high school I graduated from had an abundance of resources that specifically aimed to support the university application process, there was a department at the school that had the mandate to ensure that students got into universities that reflected their interests and had the resources and capacity to nurture their potential. At the same some it was also challenging relating to applying financially because as an applicant you are required to pay per application and I also had to pay to write my SATs.

The biggest challenge I faced was just being always from my family, friends and everything I know. I thought going to study in the United States would be easy but I am finding that it’s not easy and it doesn’t get better being away from your family. Another one of the biggest challenges I would say I am facing is feeling like Namibia is evolving and progressing and I am not part of that change.

Going to university during a pandemic was not easy, because everything is online. Luckily, I am blessed enough to have a conducive home environment where I could take my classes online and the only challenge I faced was the different time zones.

My advice to people who would like to study IR is, when you come from a developing country like Namibia and you go study in a first world country like the United States, there is a lot of pressure to study something technical. I would say don’t let anyone tell you how to use your opportunity, it’s your decision. The final piece of advice for studying abroad is the reminder that you are there to study and pass. Don’t get caught up in the glitz and glamour of being abroad and remember why you went there; remember where you come from and what you want to achieve.