Quite honestly, I did not do much research before going into it. My father had advised that I should study abroad in an English speaking country and of all my choices, South Africa seemed the most full of life. I decided I would go to Cape Town. Of course, I didn’t really know what that meant, at least, not until I got there!
When I arrived in Cape Town, I was completely terrified. It was my first time completely away from home. Until then, I had only lived with my parents, even while I was going to college. My first few days felt very lonely and I was so homesick, just longing to see my family. But about a week into my program, at a welcome barbecue, I met a South African girl (from Durban). That’s when things changed for the better. She was a freshman at the university and seemed just as lost and confused as I was. We spent lots of time together exploring Cape Town and quickly became very close friends. She introduced me to several South Africans from Durban which helped me get a better understanding of South African life.
It sounds simple: find someone to make a friend with. Yet it was more complex than that, since you have to navigate both national and cultural boundaries. But that only made it so much more enriching and fulfilling—more than I could have ever imagined. Studying abroad, making friendships and spending time with people from South Africa gave me the opportunity to question my own priorities and truly open my mind.
I learned so much from all the people that I met that I have been inspired to take on a Masters program abroad in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies at the London School of Economics in the upcoming year. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to further expand my cultural awareness, both in and out the classroom, which will allow me to pursue a career in international education.