As I await the second of three planes in 28 hours, I’m realizing the dramatic difference between planning study abroad and actually embarking on the trip. I personally didn’t really think about the 20+ hours of travel, the time changes, and the small but mighty task of navigating new airports. Now, sitting in New York’s JFK airport, all the planning, excitement, and preparations culminate into one feeling - exhaustion. Not a hopeless exhaustion, but the kind you get from finally being on your way after five months of being in a constant state of excitement. It may also be due to my night-before packing job – an unfortunate choice on my part. I wanted to make every second count of my last week with friends and family, and not surprisingly, packing fell low on my list of “fun things to do before I leave”. I justified this decision by claiming that I would be much less indecisive about packing everything and anything if I had a pressed timeline, which wasn’t entirely the case. Nevertheless, it has been a long time coming, and I’m beyond ready to get to South Africa. Finally, the photos I’ve been looking at for months online won’t be just images on a screen. I know that it will be much more exciting to show people photos that I have taken myself and not the first that pop up on Google images – most of which seem too perfect to even be real.
So, why Cape Town? After spending the first seven years of my life in Kenya and Rwanda, I felt that it was only fitting to plan my study abroad in Africa. The University of Cape Town offered classes for both my majors - economics and sociology - while providing a richly diverse city that puts Winston-Salem, NC, the home of my university in the states, to shame. And truthfully, I can’t imagine anyone seeing pictures of Table Mountain and not wanting to visit. Even in the past few months, I’ve encountered a number of people who have lived in, visited, or known of someone who had spent time in Cape Town – all of whom proclaimed: “You’re going to love it!”
Even still, I haven’t yet gathered my thoughts enough to really articulate exactly what I’m excited or nervous for. It usually comes out as “I’m excited about everything!!! And well...I’m nervous about everything!!!”. The views, trips, people, and culture are new and exciting, but the experience itself is clearly a huge change. Ultimately, though, I am eager to get to experience an entirely new place with new people — and despite my last-minute packing and preparing, I am ready get there!