Name: Matia MUKAMA
Host Institution: Stellenbosch University
Course: MASTER OF SCIENCE IN FOOD SCIENCE
Thesis: Resistance to airflow, cooling characteristics and quality of pomegranate fruit inside ventilated packaging
Personal testimony; experience of undertaking studies outside home country
The days towards leaving home to the unknown were filled with uncertainties, curiosity, excitement and sadness, but in spite of the confusion, it was a dream come true to finally be able to pursue postgraduate studies that was a lifelong dream, all thanks to the Intra-ACP Sharing Capacity to Build Capacity for Quality Graduate Training in Agriculture in African Universities (SHARE) scholarship opportunity that made this study possible and research support from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).
Studying in the Rainbow nation (South Africa) provided an opportunity to interact, engage and understand cultural diversity (Stellenbosch university exchange programs also attract students from wide range of nationalities all year round) in addition to the diversity back home (Uganda) through which I have further developed and appreciated individual differences, perceptions and made lifelong contacts for future collaborations and knowledge sharing especially in the research field. The structure of MSc. Food Science at Stellenbosch University (research based) has greatly improved my research prowess which I have always been very passionate about. Working under the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology (SARChI) under leadership of Distinguished Prof. Umezuruike Linus Opara whose wise counsel, motivation and insights as well as positive environment encourages creative thinking, skill and talent development has been such an indelible opportunity. The weekly discussions at the Postgraduate discussion forum (PDF) under SARChI and the weekly Food Science department postgraduate seminars were very engaging platforms that challenge and stimulate research growth through lecturer and student engagements.
Indulging in the local cuisine especially roasted meat (braai), chakalaka, pap (more less Ugandan hardened maize porridge), etc. was always a good sensory journey, the beautiful Cape ranges and a scenic views always evoked my adventurous spirit that always got me to my feet climbing the mountains and relaxing while breathing fresh air at the highest points above sea level, in addition to enjoying the scenic views of towns and vine farms.
The post graduate and International office was also very supportive right from helping us feel welcomed and at home to shedding light into the then dark, lonesome and unknown research journey through various courses in their program, Postgraduate skills development. It was an eye and ear opener as well as robust boots to ascend the trek, finally reaching its peak. The scholarship coordinators also always ensured we were at peace, right from Mrs. Dorcas Loga Okello, miles away to Ms Chernelle Lambert, to Mr Christopher Muller and Mrs Carmien Snyman, Thank you.
Special thanks go to Mr. Tarl M. Berry, my family, dad and mom for their awesome support and encouragement and once again to SHARE and study leader Prof. U.L. Opara for the great opportunity. I am deeply indebted