Cape Town, South Africa. A new home with new meaning. I am currently four weeks out of my six week program and my eight week experience in South Africa. It has been life-changing. My first impressions when I entered the country were a mix of confirmed prior perceptions and surprise. I was definitely nervous to be in a new country on my own with people I had never met before. However, I was excited to be able to make new friends and live through new experiences with them. I knew that everything back home would still be there when I got back and that thought has comforted me throughout my experience.
I think my favorite thing about my host location, South Africa, is the food. There are so many different cultures in South Africa, resulting in a multitude of different kinds of food. I’ve had the opportunity to eat traditional South African cuisine, whilst also embracing other cultures. Every meal is a new experience and the differences have been fascinating. However, I think I will miss the people and experiences in Cape Town as they will be like no other experience that takes place in the United States. The enlightening conversations I’ve had throughout my two internships have broadened my perspective on the homeless population and the rights of children within the country. South Africans have taken the time to deepen my understanding of the political issues that are taking place within the country, creating a new perception of the country and culture.
I have also really enjoyed having plenty of free time after my internships as I don’t have to take classes abroad. I am receiving credit through USF, University of South Florida, due to my two internships in South Africa. However, this does not include having to take quizzes or tests. I have to attend ten Zoom classes with different students in programs across the country, recognizing the different experiences of other students. It’s a program that is centered around service-learning, reflecting on the experiences I am having in my different placements while I am in the country.
I haven’t had the opportunity to take too many excursions due to my internship schedule, but I have been able to go to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Aquila Safari, Boulder Beach, and other similar tourist attractions. These experiences have been amazing, presenting different sides of the country. I, also, will be able to experience more of the tourist-based sector of the country when my family arrives in the beginning of August. This experience has allowed me to focus on my internships and coursework, whilst having plenty of time to travel and experience the culture within South Africa. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting various locals through our excursions and my internships, seeking to develop a better understanding of the culture within South Africa. South Africa encompasses a wide variety of languages, ranging from English to Afrikaans to Xhosa. I am fortunate-enough to have one of my supervisors be Lucinda Evans, one of ‘BBC’s 100 Most Influential Women.’ This has been an immense pleasure and I have gained a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding gender-based violence within the country. Although there is so much to be said about my experience in Cape Town up to this point, there is only so much that can be written. This experience has been extraordinary up to this point and I recommend anyone to study abroad, it’s a life-changing experience.