By Raul Andrei Dimitriu
Rhodes University is one of the primary pillars on which the educational and cultural wealth of Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape is based. Grahamstown is a cultural melting pot; many other cultures share this unique town.
Rhodes’ role in facilitating the transition to a liberal, democratic South Africa cannot be overlooked. Its location, in the heart of the historically troubled “Frontier Country”, exposed it to the necessity for social and cultural reconciliation between South Africans. As such, the platform for future mutual co-existence is solidly entrenched by the diversity of Rhodes students.
Academically, Rhodes is of the a high caliber; the highest national undergraduate pass rate, the best research output per capita in South Africa as well as the elevated quality and the esteemed reputation of the degrees are what draw students from all over Southern Africa and the world to Grahamstown.
Given the above, arriving at Rhodes for the start of one’s university career is both an exciting and apprehensive time. The culture shock of changing from familiar home surroundings to a university in a town which contrasts from what many students are accustomed to can be daunting. However, if you take the time to interest yourself in the new surroundings and the institutions that make the university tick, the transition is quick and easy.
From the outset of your time here, the key to taking advantage of everything that is unique about Rhodes and Grahamstown is to be open to different experiences and opportunities. Being active in residence and oppidan life is a particularly effective way of immersing yourself in the Rhodes student culture. Community living offers many rewards for personal social fulfillment; take part in functions and build strong ties with your residence mates. In addition, fully use all the leadership opportunities that residence and cultural life at Rhodes offers to assert yourself and develop skills you might never have previously had.
Participating in some of the dozens of sports clubs and cultural societies is also incredibly beneficial to forming a commonality with other students, and remaining physically and socially active at the same time. Essentially, the key to a unique Rhodes experience is enlisting in a variety of activities and experiences, without over-extending yourself of course!
Initially, the opportunities for entertainment in town might seem limited – don’t despair! The diversity of night spots is growing all the time. However, much of your leisure time will be enhanced by the vibrant nature of community life, which is profoundly inherent to Rhodes.
Finally, never forget that you are a member of the 5% of South Africans who study at a tertiary education institution, very few of whom attend one of this standard. Partaking in community engagement is very rewarding and instills a culture of active social consciousness. In light of being socially mindful, be aware that news usually doesn’t come to you, you must actively seek what’s going on if you want to know. Embrace the Rhodes way of life and you will obtain a new, dynamic outlook on society forever. Enact the maxim “where leaders learn” and your experience as a Rhodent will be one that you will never forget!