South Africa is the country that I have always dreamed to visit once in my life. One year ago, I still questioned if I would ever have a chance to be there. One year later, I found myself sitting on the deck of The Water Front, in the centre of Cape Town, enjoying the bright sunshine and fresh breeze. Like a dream. I got this wonderful chance thanks to the International Study Tour which is part of the UCD Smurfit MBA Programme. Although, the trip was only one week, but I, along with my MBA peers spent a fruitful time in this amazing country. The first destination was Johannesburg, a rapidly changing city and the vibrant heart of South Africa. Being the biggest city of South Africa, Johannesburg also plays the role of the major commercial, financial, and industrial hub. Here, we not only visited big companies like Coca Cola and Old Mutual, but also got a chance to go to Soweto, a historic ‘township’ area, Hector Pietersen Museum and Nelson Mandela’s old house which helped me to understand more about history of this country.
Coming from Vietnam, a country experiencing the same terrified pain of war, I feel that I can really relate to South Africa’s long history of struggling for freedom and equality, and also amazed by the fact that the country has quickly rebuilt and developed to become a member of BRICS within just 20 years. The next destination was Cape Town, the capital of South Africa. It is such a beautiful and lovely city which easily makes you fall in love with. We visited a lot of companies, start-ups, social entrepreneur and non-profit organizations, as well as having a great time on a sunset cruise and wine tasting trip to the winelands.
Through this trip, I have learned a lot of new things. What impressed me most is that although being an emerging country, South Africa pays a lot of attention to policy measurements that improve the environment, income gap and social equality. Especially, to me, the idea of BBBEE is very interesting and I think this can be applied to other developing countries. Other than that, I also had a chance to experience the culture of South Africa which is mixture of African and European influence. In just one week, I fell in love with South Africa’s unique culture, beautiful landscape, and nice people. Everywhere I went, I always saw bright smiles, I was warmly welcomed, and treated with friendliness and great hospitality. I will definitely come back to this country. Thanks to the Smurfit MBA for giving me this memorable experience.
Thao Nguyen ~ Full-Time MBA