While I am more than happy to admit that my year on the Kibbutz was probably the most educational time for me - a time in which I really got to know more about myself and what I wanted from life, the four years in Stellenbosch helped me visualise my path for the future.
In January 1995, while packing my bags to travel from PE to Cape Town - excited to start my life as a 20 year old UCT student ( following my father ( BComm in 1962) and my oldest sister (PHYSIO in 1994) - my dear father knocked on my door and completely flawed me.....by asking the following question :
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GO TO UCT or would you prefer TO BECOME A MATIE ?
(in other words go to Stellenbosch instead)
This was a completely unexpected question as my entire youth was spent listening to how incredibly awesome it was being an Ikey. I had only really thought I would have one option - UCT...but around 48 hours before having to report into the university residence, he advised how much life at this age was so much more than merely the establishment of a foundation for the rest of your life. He actually said something that I believed was the statement that completed my metamorphosis from average ADJ to the completely ADJusted thinker I am today.
''AD (he called me if it wasnt LBJ) would you prefer to go to Stellenbosch University ? The reason I ask you this is because I have to let you know that there was always ONE THING I did not like about UCT !
SHOCK and HORROR AS WORDS COMPLETELY ABONDONED ME...
While I truly respected my father and would follow him to the ends of the world, this still did not really make sense to me ! After explaining that UCT had confirmed that I was one point short of being able to start my BCOMM immediately in the first year (meaning I had to begin with a BA) Stellenbosch had accepted me for a BCOMM without having to waste a year trying to improve my marks in order to start a BCOMM.
My father continued, '' I ALWAYS KNEW THAT, WHEN WE ENJOYED THE ANNUAL INTER-VARSITY SPORT AND ENTERTAINMENT FESTIVITIES AGAINST EACH OTHER, THE MATIES WERE HAVING MORE FUN THAN THE IKEYS.....
It only took me about two hours to make my mind up - STELLENBOSCH IT WOULD BE....knowing full well of the one MAJOR HURDLE THAT I FACED - the language issue.
For those of you that were in their twenties in the 1990s is was a known fact that Stellenbosch was an Afrikaans university - ALL LECTURES taught in Afrikaans....text books and exams were available in English BUT lectures, all study material and everything else was going to challenge you if you did not understand BOTH the language AND the Afrikaans culture.
Reflecting back on the previous year, when an 18 year old Christian boy left school to go to a Jewish Kibbutz - being refused to be taught Hebrew because I was not Jewish, I turned this ''rejection'' from a negative into a positive...another life skill I learnt from my father !
I not only taught myself to converse in Hebrew, but I went a step further by almost perfecting my skill of writing from RIGHT TO LEFT in HEBREW....If I had remained another year in Israel, I would have got this one sorted....but all I could remember at the time was : CHALLENGE ACCEPTED !
So - Getting back to the issue of doing a business degree in Afrikaans, the words came back to me as I enrolled the following day at Stellenbosch University :
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED !
- quick point : the headline above is OPGEHOOPTE WAARDEVERMINDERING
it was a word I had to learn to pronounce correctly first before I could actually understand what it meant in my REKENINGKUNDE 101 (ACCOUNTS 101) class.
So, putting a lot of time and effort in the first six months at Stellenbosch, along came my first accounts exam....a nervous and exceptionally emotional time for me
PS : GREY HIGH SCHOOL never offered accounts so I was studying in another language AND catching up on 4 years of school curriculum that most other students had already mastered !
Back to my exam....in my first year ONLY, students had the option of choosing an English or Afrikaans exam paper for the exam. The rule was, you could ask ONCE to change your paper from one language to the other but once you had opted for the other paper, you had to hand in the one you were asking to change - and then you had to stick with the other way - no more changes allowed. Quite honestly, I did like this offer and am grateful that it was available.
as mentioned, all my lectures were in Afrikaans but I studied with English text books and for this reason, I always chose the English exam paper as it was based on the English text book.
About 90 minutes into my first first Accountancy exam ever, I was lost and feeling a bit overwhelmed. I battled though most of the paper but I had about one hour left to try understand the one question - which counted for about 40% of the entire paper. 20 minutes later....my page was still completely blank !
I slowly raised my hand and then asked the invigilator to please hand the AFRIKAANS paper to me. She explained the process and once she told me there was no asking for the English paper again, I GULPED and then NODDED - time to face the truth....what were they actually asking of me in this question ?
long story short, HUGE RELIEF when I saw the question in AFRIKAANS. I remember that I went from one blank page to 2 full pages of explanations later- I passed the semester mainly because I did well on this question :
the question in English - the one that I did NOT UNDERSTAND - was simple enough :
PLEASE CALCULATE THE ACCUMULATED DEPRECIATION ?
IN AFRIKAANS ?
BEREKEN ASSEBLIEF DIE OPGEHOOPTE WAARDEVERMINDERING ?
PHEW....MUCH EASIER TO UNDERSTAND IN AFRIKAANS....