Annelize at the University of Graz, Austria


The waiting period… occurs after everything is in order and before you are ready to board, but you are still waiting to board!!!!

Planning ahead, organizing and faith are the things that got me through the pre-departure administration. When I applied, I planned and put everything on a mind-map and a set (MUST)/ TO-DO LIST. This makes your tasks so much easier because it is notarised and you have to do it before the time.

I had a few sleepless nights about my Visa application, because it was to be my first time traveling abroad. After a while I gained some excitement because I did my research before hand and was ready for the application. You need to start early, get your passport first, then book your flight ticket (use an agency they are very helpful and will get you the cheapest flights ever, without ripping you off). Then you need to make sure you have all the necessary documents (bank statements, copies of id, proof of accommodation, acceptance letters, proof of travel insurance + fee of R1200) and go for an interview to gain your final acceptance.

Make sure that you know what the partner university will cover and what expenses you will have to cover. I got such a shock to find out that I need to pay 450 Euros. I had planned to save some money and buy souvenirs in Austria only to find out that I need to pay up. Before you leave the country make sure that you exchange your money into their currency it is cheaper and easy. I recommend a cash passport at your local bank (Absa) whoop-whoop! It is a very nice one to have with an array of currencies to use.

Make sure that you have enough toiletries, especially when you have a stand over of 8 hours ;).  Lastly take some money with you and buy souvenirs for memories. Talk to people who went abroad they will tell you what the do’s and don’ts are.

I am so excited and I can’t hide it. I am going to stay in a castle called The Seggau-Castle and every girl having dreamt of becoming a princess wants to stay in a castle.

Experience at the summer school:

This is the very beginning of learning greatly and making it fun two weeks ahead. It was a fun journey from the very beginning of the summer school, staying in castle in the mountain, quite exciting.  I journeyed into people’s lives and I got a better understanding of the theme T.T.T (Transformation Transgression and Trust).

Before we go into the two weeks – let’s get something straight – read the EMAILS and DOCUMENTS the host university sends you. I promise you it will make life so much easier and better once you are there. Why? Because now you are prepared and willing to participate in discussions and things that are compulsory.  The seminars were full of learning opportunities and also a mind opening and it triggers your way of thinking about the world we live in today. My seminar was about History and Power. The history has an impact on power. The questions are who has the power, how do one use those and who is the minority in this case. Even though in most cases politicians and certain groups have more power and they make rules and laws it is always the minority that has to obey and abide by these rules. The minorities do not have a say if they stand up and question things they will be cast out of their communities or will be labelled as the “other”.  If one thinks about it the ones with the most power gain even more power and all their decisions have an impact on lives today. This seminar makes me understand how society transformed, transgressed and how will we one day be able to trust the other. It is clear that societies and countries and even neighbours do not trust each other. How can trust be established and improved if there are always people (minorities) on the outskirts.

Me as a person, we’re also busy transforming (learning more and enriching my life by gaining new perspectives about things and my way of thinking), transgressing (by entering a world where I break the rules by saying what is happening and what can be done) and trusting new people from all over the world with different concepts, ideas, background that were the glue that makes this puzzle sticks and to make us understand each other’s ways of thinking and ideas given.  I completely understand why certain countries are operating the way they are today. I came to realise that all over the world we are dependent on the next country and mostly, how the U.S plays a very important role in the chain. This makes me realise how political decision have a big impact on the economy and the modern society. The best part is that I can relate to most events happening in the world because it is happening in my country and society today. Looking at South African history and how people with power created particular historical events. How people in power try to recreate certain historical events which results in minorities is the ones getting away as always. I was thinking how could we rearrange things in order to make minorities part of this power chain, is it even possible?

After all these academic discussions, ideas and finding ways to improve problems we had fun. The program also included excursion to Graz with a guided tour through the city. We are students, we like to explore and see thing. So we asked if we could cross the border, and yes we did we went to Maribor, with lovely sightseeing and guided tours and a boat trip and we even got to see how the city of Graz experiences transformation, transgression and trust in itself and with neighbouring towns and countries.

We had some projects named:

  1. International presentations- where one presented its country.
  2. Presentation in our dot groups about the two weeks academics.

We also had the pleasure of enjoying local bands, shopping and local wines at the castle with new friends.


Before I forget… If only I knew having an international charger would make life so easy, I would have bought one before leaving the country. Buy one ASAP you wouldn’t regret it.


It is funny how strangers became friends in two weeks and how these friendships will be continued even in distance. Thinking back, going to Europe has totally opened my mind to new things, new ways of thinking and understanding the world better. Engaging with people of different backgrounds, cultural experiences can agree or even disagree on topics using the methods of asking why and trying to think in a different ways to solve problems is exciting.

Yes Austria-Leibnitz was awesome and full of opportunities but in order to grab and understand those opportunities you need to understand yourself, where you come from, what do you know and mostly you need to think critical and be open minded about everything. It also makes me realise that I was not seen as the “other”, I was part of a group called being a human and that made everything special. Not because of my skin colour but because I have thoughts, ideas and I was able to share and communicated with the people. Being part of an aging group is fantastic, this creates the opportunity to search for ones true self and understand the beauty of being a human being. This is us being human beings.


Coming back home was just as exciting as leaving, only know I realise that South Africa is still a work in progress and being educated is one of the biggest tools one can own in their lives.  I like meeting new people and learning different things about other cultures and this summer school made it possible. I like it, I love it and I want and will do it again. That is why I urge you to apply for the summer/ winter schools its life changing and enriching. Just do it, it is better in real life than what you’ve just read. The summer schools is also very open to things like making it interesting and nice and maybe you will win competitions like I did (public speaking or even being the champion of table tennis even if you know that can’t play at all)

I want to thank the University of Stellenbosch for making this opportunity possible. Thank you for helping to enrich my life and broaden my thinking.  Even to motivate me to do things that I thought impossible. I hope that more people get opportunities to go abroad, because it is life changing.

When an opportunity knocks at your door? What do you do? Open it, invite her in and grab with both hands.