Two months, two continents, three countries, many cities, endless country views, several new friends, and countless memories later, I am about two hours away from landing in John F. Kennedy Airport. Being homeward bound has left me quite reflective. It is cliche for me to say this trip has changed me, but in many subtle and obvious ways it has matured me, South Africa in particular.
South Africa is in a unique position. As a country affected by both colonization and apartheid, the people and culture have been tried. Today the young generation, the people my age, never directly knew the effects of the apartheid regime and it has created a divide pushing for progress. South Africa is an evolving country.
As an American we were inherently wealthy due to the highly beneficial exchange rate. Moreover, we were able to indulge: eat foods, go out, visit sites, drive long distances in cabs, and do adventurous activities. I was able to do an incredible amount in only six weeks, more than most people that have lived in Cape Town their whole life. I am grateful in ways that words that can’t describe.
I learned more from the South Africans than I feel I could ever teach them. From the dedicated nurses in the various hospitals, I learned what it meant to be steadfast even when resources are low, the patient lines round the corner, and the hours are long. From the mini-bus drivers going down main road screaming “WYNBERG!,” I have habituated to a type of city life that has little room for personal space. From the various township visits and service mornings, I relearned not to judge a book by its cover; I began to appreciate on a new level that happiness and success are not directly linked to wealth. I learned about the Illuminati. I learned that I am a product of my country and the time, and that high-speed wifi, data, Netflix and Chipotle are not necessities, but comforts of home. Books and Cape Malay are just as good; worse comes to worse there are almost always internet cafes. Always considering myself a city dweller, I have developed a need for nature and a lust for hiking. In short, I love South Africa, especially Cape Town. Boarding the plane home was bittersweet, and I cannot wait to return.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi All! My name is Christina and I am thrilled to be in Cape Town. Originally from Long Island, I study Neuroscience and Studio Arts at the University of Rochester. With a life long passion for photography and medicine I am delighted to be documenting my experience in South Africa through a Public Health lens, but don't be surprised if there is also a lot of pictures of food, people and tourist-y things.</span></div>