I chose to study abroad because I have always loved to travel. Ever since freshman year of college, I have had the desire to study abroad. I have talked to numerous students who have done it and every single one had a great experience. Everyone talked to kept telling me it was a once in a lifetime experience that I should take if I had the opportunity. When choosing to study abroad, I first needed to find one that fit my major. It took me a couple years to figure out a major so that is why I waited. It just worked out so well that in the College of Education, your internship can also be a study abroad. Budget affected my decision because the trip added up fast. However, it will still end up costing less than a semester at UA because I am out of state. I got to choose 4 locations for my study abroad. I ended up getting my first choice, but the other countries were in Europe and I would have been happy there too. When considering to go abroad, I thought about how long I would be gone and what I would be doing when I was there. I wanted to make sure I was going with other people and that others had had a good experience where I was going.

To prepare, I contacted several girls who had done the COST program this spring semester. I researched the country a ton by buying books and browsing the internet. I also communicated a lot with the people I am going with. I am emotionally preparing to be away from my boyfriend, family, and friends for three months by spending a lot of time with them over the summer. While I am there though, I will still be able to communicate because I will have wifi. I am packing lots of clothes, a few school supplies, and basic travel things. I am taking two large checked suitcases because I will be living in South Africa for three months.

Some of the thoughts I am experiencing are nervous, excited, ready, and adventurous. This is stepping outside of my comfort zone more than I ever have. I just want to make sure I soak up every minute of it and get everything out of it I can. I know I will miss everyone back home, but I know I will be gone less than a semester. I am staying positive and focused. I know I will like where I’ll be because it looks absolutely beautiful there and I will live across the street from the beach!

I hope to gain a sense of independence and strength from my study abroad. I think this is going another step past going away to college since I will be living on my own in a foreign country. It will also be the semester before I graduate. I want to gain knowledge about South Africa’s culture, life, and education system. I am hoping this experience will make me a more well-rounded individual as well as a better teacher. I want to have a great experience both in the classroom and out of it. I want to ride an elephant, go on safaris, and visit Cape Town!