The view from my window
Now that I have been back in the United States for two weeks and the initial excitement of seeing my family, friends, and boyfriend has worn off, I feel homesick for Cape Town. Of course I know that this won’t last forever, but for now I am just appreciating the fact that my time abroad affected me so greatly that I miss my host country already.
I miss waking up to Table Mountain each day and asking myself if it is even possible to live in a place this beautiful.
I miss hearing Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, and English spoken all around me in a mix of dialects and accents.
I miss my job, my program family, the beaches, the moutains, the city..Everything.
If for nothing else, study abroad for this feeling: the feeling of pure appreciation of how lucky you really are.
Thank you for reading!
Another important thing about studying abroad is to remember not to be afraid when picking the location of your experience. I never in a million years had though about going to Africa until the opportunity fell into my lap. I had every intention of turning down the offer and continuing my plan to study in England, but I am eternall grateful that I chose Africa instead. If I had gone to England, I would not have been pushing myself. It would have been the safe choice and the choice that would have maybe been easier. but it would by no means have been the right choice for me. Forcing myself to go out of my comfort zone and embrace what Africa had to offer truly changed the way in which I think even about my own life. I will always appreciate my experience in Cape Town as a life-changing opportunity.
SO I guess what I am trying to say is: Do not be afraid to push yourself to new levels. Even if something sounds crazy, do what is BEST for you, not what you think you should do.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu
One of the most important things to know about South Africa is the way in which they deal with justice. Not only are admitting mistakes and being punished for them parts of the justice system, but also reconcilliation between victim and perpetrator. Due to the nature of apartehid, it became very important to find a way to resolve anger between peoiple that had been building up hatred toward each other for generations. The establishment of the Truth and Reconociliiation Commission was perhaps one of the most forward-thinking and inspirational political decisions of all time. While there are many kinks to be worked out still, in terms of ideas about justice, South Africa has it right.
Perhaps my favorite South African, Desmond Tutu also warrants a google search if you have never heard of him. Due to his religious affiliation, he was one powerful black man that the apartheid leaders had no power over. He remained a powerful anti-apartheid leader that was free to say and do as he pleased and he helped Nelson Mandela while Mandela was in prison by being the man on the outside. Tutu was know for his humore and saracasm while dealing with apartheid.When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. -Desmond Tutu.
Unfortunately, the Archbishop was going to be visiting the office where I worked in South Africa a few weeks after I was scehduled to arrive back in the United States, and not being able to meet him will always be one of my biggest disappointments.
If you have attended any high school in the last ten years you will know all about Mandela, apartheid, and his legacy, but if you haven’t: google him. The attachment South Africans feel to this man, and rightly so, is a connection that should be admired and emulated in all politicians and their populations. Even visiting South Africa for only five months I feel a strong sense of pride whenever I hear his name mentioned or see his picture. I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela
While I mentioned this before, the absolute best thing about studying abroad is the overwhelming sense of pride you feel at the fact that you know you are capable of doing anything if you can pack up, kiss your family goodbye, fly to the other side of the world and survive for five months. Having just come back from Cape Town within the last week, I can honestly say that I feel like there is no challenge that can possibly be harder than living through twenty-four hours in an airplane, which I did…twice. It sounds cheesy, but taking that leap when I said yes to going to Africa helped me to realize that there isn’t anything I can’t do.
One of my favorite things about studying abroad, particularly in Cape Town was the fresh perspective it gave me on my views, values, and life back home. When faced with the real struggles of a young democracy every day for nearly five months, you can really appreciate what you have been given in the United States. Your host country will help you escape your daily routine for a few months and be able to come back more focused and thankful for what you have the opportunity to do.