Fears of the Namibian student abroad

Some students have been very vocal about their experiences in other countries during the Covid-10 lockdown.

11 August 2020 | Education

Elizabeth Joseph



The most widely known is the Namibian students in Cuba who recently took to social to express their concern for the lack of basic needs whilst studying in Cuba.

To this the Namibian Ambassador in Cuba, Samuel /Goagoseb responded and said that so far only repatriating flights have been allowed in and out of the country.

“Only repatriation flights that are meant to bring back stranded Cuban nationals, as well as charter flights deployed by foreign governments to repatriate their stranded citizens in Cuba could be allowed to enter the Cuban airspace.” He said.

Furthermore, he says that due to the fact that students are due to resume with their normal classes by early September 2020, as well as high financial costs involved in commissioning charter flights, repatriation of Namibian students in Cuba could not be feasible.

One such student is Victoria Mupupa who recently graduated with a BSc (Hons) Forensic and Medical Sciences from the University Of Bradford, England.

This is her far from home story.

“We received an email from the high commission in the UK that there would be a repatriation flight and it would be at our own cost.

Thereafter we got the quote but the price was very high and the issuing of tickets and payments was a hassle. We had to send emails to enquire about the terminal, luggage allowance, departure time etc. Everything was under-communicated from the airline,” she begins to say.

They were initially supposed to fly from Heathrow on 27 May, but received an email from the high commission that their flight had been postponed to 2 June.

“I believe this is when things started going downhill. I had to rearrange my travel plans to Heathrow as I was not studying in London. On 3 June I travelled down to London.

On my way to the airport, I was informed by someone that the plane had a nine-hour delay in Frankfurt. When I got to the airport (at 19:00 because we were due to board at 22:00), everyone was confused about the situation because we had no official communication from Air Namibia that there was a delay.

We were later told by the handler that there was indeed a delay in Frankfurt and that we would not be flying that night. Most of us travelling were not from London and were concerned about the accommodation.

The handler told us to book a hotel and that Air Namibia would refund us as this was the case with most airlines.

It was also not clear what time we would be flying out the next day. Air Namibia only informed us about the situation at 23:00 that night,” she further mentions.

As students, she says they could not afford a hotel room, so they decided to get a double room and share it. They decided to keep all the receipts they got and to claim back the money from Air Namibia.

“The next day we returned to the airport and still did not have a departure time due to the delay in Frankfurt. Eventually we were told that we would be departing at 10:00, so we started checking in at 07:00.

The check-in process was fairly easy and stress free. We boarded the plane and we got sanitised every 30 minutes by the flight attendants. We landed safely and were given forms to complete and had to stay onboard till instructed to disembark.

There was a lot of chaos as there seemed to be a miscommunication between the ministry of health and Air Namibia as to what forms were to be handed in and what was supposed to be completed.

When we eventually got off the plane, we had our temperatures taken, we had to find our luggage and put it in the bus that was taking us to the quarantine facility,” Mupupa says.

She mentions that the quarantine experience was pleasant. They got swabbed twice and had to be there for two weeks.

“The overall experience was very hectic and Air Namibia could have done a better job at communicating with their clients and ensuring their safety,” she concludes.

Cuba reaches out

In order to assist the Namibian students in Cuba and to help them cope with the situation, the Cuban Mission is currently busy coordinating with other agencies of the Namibian government, so that the relief goods from Namibia can possibly be ferried to Cuba.

“The Cuban government has also recently introduced economic boosting measures of availing basic commodities in selected shops around the country, where Cuban citizens and foreign and foreign nationals alike can buy with visa cards, or by using freely convertible currencies,” /Goagoseb says.

Monica Kuutondokwa tells her story of how she too struggled with flight arrangements when wanting to come back to Namibia from Hungary, where she is currently doing her BA in International Relations at the Budapest Metropolitan University.

This is her far from home story.

“The fact that I didn’t have a big Namibian community in Budapest made it a little hard to deal with everything going on right now. The flights were so expensive and because of the pandemic, we could not travel via some routes.” she says.

She mentions that although flights were exponentially more expensive than usual, she is lucky to have parents who have the means to provide.

On a more positive note, their online class experience has been nothing less than smooth sailing.

“There were some classes that was successfully done online, but because of the nature of my course, we have to be in class, with face to face lessons. There was the factor of lack of privacy which made it difficult to have some online lessons.” She said.

Kuutondokwa says that talks are still underway to decide whether their university would have an active or passive semester next year.

Nonetheless, she credits the Budapest Metropolitan University for their constant updates and care they provided during this tough time.

“Whether I am home for the next semester or in Hungary, I know that I need not worry about anything because the university take great care of and actively communicates with all the students,” she concludes.

Students all over the world have completely different experiences. Find a community of other Namibian students which will make your whole experience abroad a little better according to Kuutondokwa.

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