COOL KID: Merelda Wu

Meet 24-year-old MSc Engineering student, Merelda Wu. Last year, she was one of three South African Masters students selected by the Technology Innovation Agency and Siemans AG to participate in an internship programme in Germany.

Wits Vuvuzela caught up with her to hear about her experience in the land of freezing winters and great beer.

Cool kid

COOLER THAN WINTER IN EUROPE: Merelda Wu, Cool Kid of the week, is looking forward to her future as an electrical engineer. Photo by: Tracey Ruff


Where in Germany did you live and what type of work did you for Siemans AG?

I lived and worked in Erlangen… in upper Bavaria (southern Germany).  I was doing research and design in a power electronics research group. My project was software applications… which falls under a wind energy project we are collaborating on with the Denmark Siemans Division.

Was the language barrier a challenge?

No. Most of the Germans I met spoke fairly good English, so there were no day-to-day challenges, although I always got approached by enthusiastic grannies on the bus and had no idea what they were saying!

What do you think of German men compared to South African men?

Oh, I’ll try not to offend anyone. The density of good-looking German men is definitely higher than in SA… [Laughs]. When I went clubbing in Germany, I realised the men [were] very direct and polite. If they take an interest in you, they ask [you] to dance. [If you] reject them, they… leave like grown-up gentlemen. No hard feelings. I can’t say the same about South Africans really.

What was the craziest thing you did in Germany?

I went travelling solo for two weeks. I couch-surfed, hitchhiked, carpooled, and found people to party with for New Year’s Eve in Berlin online.

What was the best thing about coming home to South Africa?

Comfort, family, friends, and my dogs. I want to say weather, but after the past two weeks, I’m not so sure anymore.

Why did you choose to study electrical engineering?

I was good with maths and science, I love solving puzzles, and I have the worst memory ever.  Okay, to be honest, I watched Die Hard and wanted to become a hacker.

Do your lecturers take it easy on you because you are female?

The lecturers, no, but I get help when I need to move heavy machines around in the lab. Also, they do notice that I’m the only one ever… wearing skirts and open shoes!

What are your plans for the future?

Work… I want to live in a different country/ city every two years.

What’s your favourite thing about Wits?

I love my school of Electrical and Information Engineering. We have nice coffee, [an] excellent working environment [and] a bunch of like-minded people geeking away together.

Three Peas in a Classroom


THREE IN A ROW: Triplets Delicia, Alicia and Felicia Arjunan (left to right) might look the same at first glance but each have their own personalities. Photo Jay Caboz

Published in the Witsvuvuzela
By Charlotte Chipangura
Photos by Jay Caboz

WITS students and staff have been left seeing triple with the addition of identical triplets Alicia, Delicia and Felicia Arjunan to the campus.

“At first glance, people can’t tell us apart but after two weeks they begin to see the differences, after a while they will so see that our personalities are similar, though not identical,” explained the chirpy Alicia.

Born 19 years ago on the 17th of August in Durban, the Alicia, Delicia and Felicia are studying BComm Philosophy, Politics & Economics, BA International Relations and BComm General, respectively.

According to Wikipedia, identical triplets are extremely rare, something that occurs only once in every 500 000 births. But multiple births are becoming more common because of the increased use of fertility treatments.

Triplets or twins are born when either an egg is fertilised more than once or if the mother has more than one egg at the same time.

According to Alicia, their mother named them in alphabetic order after they were born. But somehow Delicia, who developed in her own embryo, was born second while Alicia and Felicia shared their own embryo and came out apart.

The Arjunans say they hope to be involved in modelling and advertising where their status as triplets could be put to good use.

Peter Maher, Wits alumni relations director, said his office had no record of twins or triplets studying at Wits at the same time.

“Unfortunately our database isn’t able to capture or indicate family relationships,” he said
The Arjunans always move around campus together and say it is normal for them to be seen as a collective and not as individuals.

“This is what we have always known since we were born. Maybe it will be a hard knock when we start working and have to go our separate ways,” said Felicia.

The girls celebrate their birthdays by dressing in identical outfits. They share the same interests and friends as they make a point of introducing new friends to each other.

“Because we spend so much time together, we have formed similar likes and dislikes,” said Alicia.
Being twins, and moving around in a group, also affects their love life and how boys approach them.
“They become our friends first, and then they get to know us,” said Alicia.

“They find something they are attracted to, and then they start spending time with the particular person they like,” added Delicia.

Felicia said guys who say they wouldn’t mind dating any of the sisters did not amuse her and her siblings.


THREE IN A ROW: Triplets Felicia(left),Alicia and Delicia Arjunan (back) might look the same at first glance but each have their own personalities. Photo Jay Caboz