Alphons Kakuru

Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)

Student in Biomedical Sciences
Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST)

August 01 – October 31, 2017


My working experience

Working at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) has been a great and life changing opportunity for me in many ways. This opportunity has opened my eyes wide open and made me realise that in life the sky has to be the limit if you want to achieve great things. The first day I arrived at ZHAW, I was accompanied by my host mom who also works for the University, she showed me around the campus and also the laboratories I was going to work in. During my first week, I did not really get to meet my colleagues as most of them were on vacation and I only got to meet them during my second week of work. During the second week of my stay, I got introduced to my colleagues as they had gotten back from their vacations, I was welcomed by a special group of people because they were all kind, friendly and open and happy to have me in their team, at that moment I felt like I have known them already and I felt at home. From the first day I met my colleagues, they have been caring, very helpful and always willing to help me whenever I needed help. They would always take time to explain to me whatever I did not understand.

During my stay at the ZHAW, I worked in the Microbiology, Molecular biology and Packaging department. In the microbiology department, I got the insights of a microbiological laboratory, learned some basics techniques like media preparation, streaking plates, bacteria identification, preparation of isolated strains for long-term storage and techniques for good laboratory practices. During my stay in the microbiology department, I also got the chance to work on a bigger project where we did a bread and air analysis at different bakeries for isolation of bread relevant moulds in order to have a collection of different bread relevant moulds that can be used to develop an anti-fungal agent against this moulds in the future. I also worked in the molecular biology area where I got the chance to apply my theoretical knowledge about DNA extraction, Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis and also improved my skills of pipetting and handling small volumes. In the packaging department, I got the chance to learn about different packaging conditions for preserving food products such as active packaging and modified atmosphere packaging (MOP). What I will take home is the knowledge and skills that I have gained in my three months stay at the ZHAW and share it with my fellow students, my future employer and the Namibian population at large. During my stay at the ZHAW, I have gained some good team work skills, good communication skills and time management skills, which will be of good use to me in the industry in the near future.

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My Swiss hosts

My host families were both supportive, loving, and caring people. I could not have asked for much better families to be in. I can say that I am very lucky and privileged because I got the chance to live with two different Swiss families that have a different way of doing things and a different way of living life, and this gave me the chance to experience Switzerland in different ways. I think I had the best host families because they made me feel at home while I was far away from home, and they supported me in all ways they could to make sure that I really felt at home. We developed a good and open relationship, to the extent that I could even share my personal life with them. They were not just my host family, they became my best friends, because whenever I needed somethings or needed some advice, I would go running to them and they would always help. This made it easier for me to settle in and adjust to my new environment because of the supportive and loving people I had around me. We had a lot of fun together, we went hiking together, we visited beautiful places around Switzerland and they really contributed a lot to my stay in Switzerland and made my stay a memorable one. My Swiss families taught me a lot about the Swiss culture, life style and the Swiss ways of doing things and in return I told them about my culture, life style and our way of living. Hence it was a win-win situation for all of us.

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Highlights and Challenges in Switzerland

Coming to Switzerland has been a very wonderful and amazing experience for me, and I have to admit, this has been my greatest ever adventure. I made use of this opportunity to tour and explore Switzerland during my free time. Making use of the great transportation system, I visited some of the best touristic places like Mount Titlis, Mount Rigi and also visited big cities like Bern, Lugano, Zurich and Lucerne. I also made use of this opportunity to try out typical Swiss dishes like fondue, raclette, and some Italian dishes like risotto, spaghetti carbonara as well as some Greek dishes like moussaka. My biggest challenge during my stay in Switzerland was the language barrier, as English is the only international language that I can speak, and it was difficult to have communication with certain people that I encountered as they could only speak German. This however helped me to learn some basic German words. Language barrier was as well a problem at the workplace, because most of the labels of reagents, safety signs and operation of machines was in German, but with the help of my colleagues I managed to overcome this obstacle.


My future plans

I have set for myself some short-term and long-term goals. One of my short term goals is to finish my bachelor’s degree and graduate by the year 2019 and enter the industry (workforce) and to start building my career so that I can start making a difference in people’s lives. My long-term goal is to go for my Master’s degree at one of the top universities in the fields of either food science or health science.


Personal Message

First of all, I would like to thank B360 Education Partnerships for having made such a huge impact in my life, for having given me this wonderful opportunity to see a different part of the world and experience a different culture. Secondly I would like to thank my two Swiss families, the Gantenbeins and the Niederers, for their great hospitality that made my stay in Switzerland fun, amazing and memorable. I would like to thank them for having welcomed me into their homes with warm and open arms and for always making me feel at home. Last but not the least, I would like to thank everyone that has contributed to my stay in Switzerland.

Danke sehr, I will forever be grateful!