‘The best thing about being home is it’s a fresh start’

Ntombenhle Radebe returned to South Africa in January 2014 after doing her MBA on entrepreneurship and strategy in Israel and the Netherlands.

After years of working in the field I became a bit jaded, I wasn’t happy with a lot of things in the industry and in my work environment. I needed a change, so I decided I needed to do an MBA.

There are lots of good schools in South Africa where I could’ve done it at but I also wanted to change my life, so I decided to go and do it overseas. After thinking about what I wanted to gain from my MBA, I wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and business strategy. So I decided to go to Tel Aviv, who was offering this programme. I also wanted to go there from a religious perspective, I wanted to see what life in Israel would be like for me and maybe change a few things.

In South Africa, there is still a premium in doing an MBA abroad, that international exposure, approach and mindset you get is invaluable.

I missed the weather and the food most while I was away. The rest of the world think they have good food but they have nothing on South African food. The taste of junk food at home is even better than the junk food overseas. I really missed having braais – the weather, the family, the feel of Johannesburg on a really good summers’ day sitting next to the pool – that I missed quite a bit and to make myself even more homesick, that’s what I used to think about.

There were other South Africans there with me but the problem is, sometimes South Africans who have left South Africa talk ill about the country and make it seem much worse than it really is. I found myself defending the country quite alot. The people that were on the same path as me, like-minded South Africans who were hopeful of the country, I am still friends with.

I came back to South Africa because my studies were over. I knew that there were opportunities at home for me and this is where my family is.

The worst bit about coming back is you realise people have moved on. Trying to reintegrate myself with my friends was a bit of a challenge but it worked out and we are back in the swing of things. Public transport is also a challenge,it’s nice overseas to have regular public transport, but I realise Johannesburg isn’t really made that way, it’s way to big. It was difficult to get back into the groove and drive everywhere.

The best part about being home is it’s a new chapter. I spent two years trying to rebuild myself and create a new identity that I could plug and play in South Africa and now this opportunity has come, and now I need to seize the day. I also missed reconnecting with friends and family and the weather – I can’t tell you how I missed the weather and as much as Israel has good weather, nothing compares to an African sunrise and sunset.

One of my most favourite things about coming home is my father would pick me up from the airport and we would drive and we would see a taxi. I missed uniquely South African things.

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