From Maseru to Normandy, Habofanoe Polaki is getting his cultural fix while climbing the corporate ladder. Scroll down to read more about his time in France, where he is studying International Project Development at NEOMA Business School in the picturesque city of Rouen.
Studies, South Africa

 

STUDENT OF THE MONTH: Meet Habofanoe Polaki, a French government scholarship holder from Maseru, Lesotho. Today, Habofanoe is doing an internship at Saint-Gobain as part of his master’s degree program in International Project Development at NEOMA Business School.

Habofanoe obtained a
Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at University of Botswana after finishing high school in Lesotho. Having always been keen to study abroad, Habofanoe says he “kept a close eye on international partnerships offered by his university.” He applied and was selected to participate in an exchange programme for a semester at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (USA). After completing his undergraduate studies, he enrolled in a Master’s degree program in International Project Development at NEOMA Business School as a French government scholarship holder.

What had initially drawn Habofanoe to France? “Having spent some time in the US previously, I was looking for a completely different challenge in terms of cultural immersion and academic structure,” Habofanoe explains. “Moreover, the country’s location in Europe meant I could potentially easily visit neighboring countries. France was perfect, a chance to visit the Eiffel tower, secure my Master's and take a shot at a new language!”

For Habofanoe, his previous exposure to project management spurred him on to considering it for further study. “I Identified NEOMA Business School as having a comprehensive program offering Prince 2 Project Management certification. Furthermore, it also incorporated an abroad field study which would provide an opportunity to engage with other students in Rotterdam." 

NEOMA Business School is located in the city of Rouen, in the picturesque region of Normandy. What does Habofanoe make of his surroundings? “In terms of the environment, Normandy offers astounding gothic architecture as well as proximity to expansive coastlines bordered by precipitous cliffs. Rouen is also great for history and art enthusiasts as it is associated with names such as Monet and Joan of Arc. The NEOMA campus is placed upon a hilltop surrounded my amazing woodlands.”

Habofanoe reckons French cuisine is one the things that has stood out for him most during his time in France. “The abundance of choice consistently left me wondering what to try next. A simple walk to the local boulanger provides endless options in terms of bread and pastries.”

“I was also pleasantly surprised by the variance in scenery,” he enthuses. “One moment you are surrounded by rugged coastlines and the next by sprawling hillside villages.”


Habofanoe is currently in Nancy in eastern France in order to complete an internship at Saint-Gobain, which, in addition to his Master’s, will be invaluable to furthering his career. “I was fortunate enough to be engaged with Saint-Gobain PAM, the pipe division of a large multinational French group. I am involved with global business development and general office support of the export department. Moving to Nancy for the internship further exposed me to a different French scene. I would encourage anyone exploring Nancy to visit Place Stanlisas and enjoy the yearly lights show.”

For Habofanoe, his experience in France is invaluable for his future endeavours. “Any experience abroad certainly adds plenty to one’s personal profile. In my case, the internship I complete in December will also count towards professional experience. Armed with an international degree and experience, I hope to attach myself to an organisation embracing multiculturalism.”

Habofanoe is confident that he “will be uniquely qualified to contribute towards any multinational organisation’s project management needs.”

 Moving abroad is not an easy feat, and Habofanoe advises those who are interested in studying in France to “invest some time in French lessons a few months before coming over! Most local French people only speak French therefore if unprepared you are likely to quickly become frustrated. Although Google Translate can be quite handy, grasping some of the basics before-hand goes a long way.”

Habofanoe also advises to make sure to take advantage of the trips frequently organised (by Campus France and other student organisations) throughout your stay. “Last year I enjoyed December amongst other students within the Spanish cities of Seville and Malaga!”

For more information on the French Embassy scholarship programme, contact pretoria@campusfrance.org