Johannesburg is also known as eGoli which translates to ‘the city of gold’. This name came about after the city was founded in 1886 when gold was discovered on site. People came from far and wide in order to build their fortunes and there was a point in history where over 40% of the world’s supply of gold came from Johannesburg. And for six glorious years, I called this beautiful, bustling city home.
Johannesburg is fondly referred to as a ‘hustlers' paradise’. We work hard – and we play even harder. In the late 19th century, the city was populated by miners from different continents as well as miners and workers from other towns in South Africa and today, Johannesburg still sees many economic migrants yearly. As a result, Johannesburg is a vibrant and diverse city.
Coming to Oxford to do the MBA, I was expecting to slow down a bit. I pictured leisurely riding my bike, picnics at Port Meadow and walking dreamily through tall spires... and although I have done a bit of that, I certainly have not slowed down at all!
I would not have guessed it before, but Johannesburg and Oxford – while extremely different in some contexts – are also strikingly similar in other aspects.
Never did I imagine the diversity of the Oxford MBA before I joined. Over 300 people from 65 different countries. In Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to mix and mingle with a wealth of different people from different places but if Johannesburg was a pool – then Oxford is the ocean. I have met and conversed with doctors from Eritrea and computer scientists from France.
I thought the partying in Oxford would be mild. I was certainly mistaken. From Raggaeton night on a Thursday at Hank’s to Afrobeats on a Friday night at La Casa. And while Oxford clubs don’t have the glitz and glamour of Sandton, they certainly do have a lot of charm.
Johannesburg is beautiful and it is green. Johannesburg is home to one of the biggest manmade forests with over ten million trees. My favourite is the Jacaranda tree. In early spring, bright purple flowers line the streets. It feels magical and I feel that magic when walking the streets of Oxford and visiting some of the colleges. The gardens of Worcester truly are something to behold.
I miss home. I miss the hustle and bustle. I miss braais with my friends. I miss milktarts for breakfast. But when I feel most disconnected, I look for the flickers of familiarity and sometimes, even just for a second, I feel at home.