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An updated introduction

Hi all,

I am back blogging for another semester! I hope that everyone had a wonderful summer and is ready for the upcoming Autumn Semester 2010. In an effort to avoid repeating my entire introduction from my first blog entry in January 2010, I just want to update you with the few changes that have taken place.

I am in Copenhagen, Denmark on my foreign semester and arrived here in mid-August. I am at the Copenhagen Business School and so far so good! I am taking courses in Social and IT Entrepreneurship, Business Plan Writing and Sustainable Innovation. So I think it is going to be an exciting semester. So watch this space for updates!

I am looking into what sports, societies and activities I can get involved in while here and so far I am considering playing a round of golf before the weather gets bad, indoor swimming, badminton, joining the entrepreneurship society and taking a beginners course in Danish. Time will be the restricting factor as always, as to how much I manage to fit in. I look forward to providing you with some insights into studying abroad as an EBS exchange student, with particular focus on my Danish experience.


Learning German as a Foreign Language

This week’s blog is all about trying to learn German as a foreign language.

My best advice is start learning the language when you are really young because it is a difficult one; but since there more than likely are not many five year olds out there reading this blog, I suppose I better tell you about the challenge learning German at the tender age of 23.

I enrolled in February 2005 for the first year course “German as a Foreign Language” at Rhodes University in South Africa. I initially took German to keep a promise to a friend, for personal reasons, and because it was supposed to be an easy credit. In addition I took it as an extra credit alongside my commerce degree, as I found it refreshing to have a humanities class in my schedule to buffer all the accounting, economics and other business subjects that made up my Bachelor of Commerce Degree.

We started with the basics, the alphabet and an explanation about the funny two dots, umlaut, and why the letter ‘y’ has such a long name in German. To be perfectly honest the first year of German really was an easy credit, but that was where the easy credits stopped. In the second year, the dativ and genitiv cases and the mind boggling Konjunktiv II and Präteritum forms were presented, not to mention the array of exceptions to numerous grammar rules as well as the long lists of regular and irregular verbs. An extremely steep learning curve and no more jokes about easy credits was experienced by our class, which at the beginning of the year was 15 people and by the end of the year had dropped to seven people. I got through the course and even went on to complete a third and fourth year of German Studies alongside my commerce degree at Rhodes University.

In hindsight I am extremely happy that I started to learn German, as it has opened many doors for me and has assisted me greatly in coming to Germany. Also, it has been particularly useful outside of the classroom at EBS too. I think that learning a foreign language helps one immensely in understanding the culture and mannerisms of the people who speak that language. As a very basic example many non-German speakers generalize and say that Germans come across as being a little too formal, but when one of these non-German speakers takes the time to learn the German language and understands the use of Sie and du and how the language is structured and intertwined with accepted forms of behavior and address, then the person will understand why Germans come across as being a little formal.

I have just entered my sixth year of learning German and despite making many small errors, I continue to practice through speaking in an attempt to improve my German. I still struggle with applying the gender cases correctly die, der, das, but I figure that it took most Germans about 15 years to learn their own language during school and all, so I still have 9 years to get absolutely fluent.


Cultural Extra-mural activities at EBS

After a trip to a fabulous concert at the Alte Oper Frankfurt, which was organized by an EBS student, I sat musing over the richness that such cultural activities add to one’s education. Most companies have moved away from hiring graduates solely on the strengths of their academic and factual knowledge. In today’s market companies want to recruit well-rounded graduates with a rich involvement in extra-mural activities, be those social initiatives, sporting or cultural activities. Hence the value of attending a concert, opera, theatrical production or a philharmonic orchestra performance should not be under-rated. On the contrary, it is time well spent and provided you openly embrace the music or performance, you can have a wonderful experience.

The EBS Band, a student led association, has a number of performances during the semester on campus which allow students to entertain attendees with their musical abilities. A group of independent student Musicians from the Bachelor and Master classes organized a few concerts last semester and had a concert this April too. The Advents Concert; it was truly an impressive display of string, wind and piano and boasted a couple of opera singers to top it off. All those in attendance, including myself, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. After all, music adds colour to life.

Cultural attractions in the nearby cities of Wiesbaden, Mainz and Frankfurt are numerous. There is a growing trend at EBS whereby students take the initiative and organize outings to some of these cultural events. The experience has a rich educational value, which is interwoven into developing ourselves as well-rounded EBS graduates. Continued and increased support and encouragement of cultural activities and initiatives from the EBS administration needs to take place to continue to grow and strengthen this area, which in my opinion helps develop more rounded EBS graduates.


Why Did I Choose EBS?

Der Neue: Eine kurze Vorstellung

I have been asked this question numerous times, being a South African and being seemingly far from home. To be honest there were a number of both personal and career-orientated reasons for choosing EBS. Starting from a career perspective, I wish to start my career in Europe and hence having a Master’s Degree from a European Institution strengthens my chances of success significantly, especially in our current tough market conditions. I wanted to do a Masters in Management so as to have a well-rounded education and qualification, with my Bachelors’ majors being Economics, Information Systems and German Studies. Additionally I wanted to continue to improve my German, which was partly due to my undergraduate extra major in German Studies as well as having a German wife. There is no better place than in a German speaking society to achieve this; hence, Germany was an obvious choice.

I had previously researched doing a foreign semester during my Bachelor Studies, and EBS had been my desired institution. However, due to complications from my then home University in South Africa I was unable to partake in a foreign exchange. It was at that point that I decided that against all odds I would come to Germany and make it into EBS Masters.

The pursuit of my ambitious dream of going to one of Germany’s top business schools began (from a point of sitting in South Africa) with job offers from large reputable companies in South Africa on the table, no authorization to reside in Germany, no acceptance to EBS, and no funding for my studies at EBS. I took on these challenges, and against all odds-- despite hiccups and complications-- persevered with the entire process from February 2008 until July 2009.

I succeeded in being accepted to EBS with courses in English, a beautiful country side location conducive to studying, and an international-orientated educational program.


Company Contact

In this week’s blog I am going to tell you about my impression of the company presentations and the contact that EBS’s students have with companies on campus.

A mere glance down the list of companies that visit the EBS campus to hold either a company presentation or workshop is alone impressive. But then when you look even closer and see who these companies send to EBS, one is even more impressed. Top managers and on many occasions executives from leading companies, both German and international, visit the EBS campus.

The true value in my opinion, which I have found from attending numerous company presentations, is the relaxed and familiar atmosphere in which they are presented. In other words the company representatives are extremely approachable and open to questions of all sorts. In addition this atmosphere fosters the chance of obtaining extremely rich insights into the ethos, culture and operations of the respective company. This in-turn allows students to get a really good feel for what it would be like working for the respective company.

This exposure should never be underestimated, as the rich opportunity to raise one’s career awareness has never been simpler. To gain insights such as these on your own would consume a considerably larger portion of time, and as most EBS students will tell you, time pressure is something we are constantly exposed and subjected to during our studies here.

Knowing one’s options is an extremely powerful position to be in when entering the world of work. Therefore, I would suggest attending as many company presentations, workshops and talks given by top managers and executives on campus as possible, and in so doing raise your career awareness. Having direction is an optimal manner of starting a successful and prosperous career.

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#šest – Nasvidenje (Rehearsals for Departure)
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