You know what I hate? Goodbyes.
It's true, I'll avoid them at all costs if I have to. I don't like the finality in them. So even though I knew going into this trip that I would eventually have to kiss my life in Cape Town goodbye, it most certainly was not going to be easy.
I spent my last two weeks in Cape Town saying goodbye to my life there piece by piece. My friends and I sang our swan songs at karaoke night, ate our last Saturday brunch at Old Biscuit Mill, and I gave my Gugulethu girls that I volunteered with every week one last hug (albeit tearfully). Little by little, I packed myself up into suitcases, dropped off those final assignments, and handed over my keys. But on the uber ride to the airport, I couldn't tear my eyes away from Devil's Peak as it got smaller and smaller outside of the back window.
And that's when I knew that I'd be back. Maybe not soon, but someday, I'll go back to Cape Town. Because that place holds a beautiful story in my heart. I worked hard to get there, and once I was there, I had the time of my life. I changed there. I became happier there. So it might be next year, or it might be when I have a husband and some kids in tow, but I'll make it back to Cape Town because it's special to me. Just like Long Island is. I may have grown up in New York, but I found myself in South Africa. And that will always be enough to come back.
When you travel abroad, there is always that one person who is going to say The Worst Thing. And I call it The Worst Thing, because it truly is an awful thing to say to someone. No matter where you go, someone will say to you: "This may never happen to you again. You may never get an opportunity to travel like this." And sure, I will never study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa at this time in history ever again. I am graduating in May 2016. I accept that. But I refuse to accept that I won't travel to interesting corners of the world again. The truth is, my life is what I choose to make it. And I want to keep traveling.
So if that's what you want; if you want a box full of plane tickets and mementos from all kinds of adventures like I do, then make your life look like that. Cape Town is just one adventure out of the many more I'm sure I'll have in my life. My Cape Town bucket list is all filled in and checked off. I have stood with arms spread wide on the top of Table Mountain, and I completed missions field work in an African township. I have gone on a safari, and I have sampled South African wines at a vineyard outside of Cape Town. I rode an elephant named Thandi, and I have seen the inside of Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island. Now, I want to check other things off of a new bucket list. I want to see the Eiffel Tower. I want to drink a Guinness in an Irish pub. I want to float in the Dead Sea and take a stroll down the Great Wall of China. And probably about a thousand other things. I want to continue to learn.
So for Cape Town, I know it's not a goodbye, but maybe it's a see you later.
That's the trick to saying goodbye: making sure it's not the last time. Goodbyes are a whole lot sweeter when you know you'll be back again.
PS: Thank you so much to IES Abroad and IES Abroad Cape Town for making these past four and a half months truly unforgettable. It was totally worth every moment of frustration and confusion. It would have never been this great without you guys!
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<div>Cortney Cordero is a senior majoring in journalism at Hofstra University with a minor in creative writing. This New <span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Yorker has wanted to travel to Africa since she was in Kindergarten. This fall, her dream is finally coming true, and she </span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">wants to share her experience with you.</span></div>