Maastricht: Oh my Gosh

Of all the things that I’ve had to worry about while pursuing this dream of attending Maastricht School of Business and Economics (SBE), the one that almost stopped me cold was… Fear………. Many of you might be wondering why fear, well this is for several reasons that I am about to reveal. However, let me begin by taking this opportunity to introduce myself, my name is Thandekile Madikane and am a student from South Africa, studying at the Wits Graduate School of Business. I am from a province named Eastern Cape in South Africa that is somehow underdeveloped, and the reason I mention this is to provide context for the use of a strong word such as “fear”. Never having travelled abroad, let alone venturing into unknown territory for an extended period (as I am about to do at Maastricht) this indeed ignites the fear I am referring to. For the reasons mentioned above, fear is but an appropriate adjective to describe the current state of affairs. I would like to think that I represent a vast majority of the African population who have never stepped out of their respective comfort zone of their home ground, and in many instances, most may live out all their lives within their respective country borders. The fear pre-arrival Maastricht is exacerbated by anxiety of a foreign country; fear of a different environment; of the culture and the hospitability of the people in Maastricht; of not knowing how I will match up with other students from the rest of the continent…………in a nutshell fear has become a friend of mine! In a recent article, daredevil Felix Baumgartner stated the following before his famous jump, “fear is what prevents me from stepping too far over the line. On a mission like this, you need to be mentally fit and have total control over what you do, and I’m preparing very thoroughly”. This I believe to be true when reflecting on how I have approached the trip to Maastricht. It’s very simple really; prepare, prepare, and do more preparation. By this I mean one has to research about Maastricht and to equip themselves with all the knowledge about some of the popular hangouts, read the blogs, watch a few YouTube (yes YouTube is the future!) videos and get a general sense of the environment. This really helps one to approach the trip to Maastricht with a little more enthusiasm and to appreciate the value it will bring towards one’s self actualisation. I do however need to give recognition to the men and women involved in an exchange programme such as this one. I have had the pleasure of interacting with a few of these exceptional individuals (Wendy, Colette, Magda, to name but a few). This wonderful team of coordinators from the SKILLS PROGRAMME have made life that much easier and lessened the anxiety(and yes the fear) I have been experiencing. To anyone else who might be experiencing anxiety and fear, I would like to tell you that this is normal. To everyone else who is travelling outside their country for the first time I want to say “welcome to the club”. Thank you all, I hope this will be useful. Till next time, I leave you all with 2 of my favourite quotes: “We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures”….. Susan Jeffers “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover…….Mark Twain

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