Like many students before me, when I decided to spend a semester studying abroad, I set a number of goals and intentions prior to my take-off. I actually documented some of those goals in one of my very first blogs—right here on this platform. Here are a couple of the highlights:
“Seek Adventurous Ways to Learn
Just as much learning can occur outside of the classroom as it can occur within it. As I enter into a new environment full of new learnings to be sought after, I hope to find them throughout my experience, beyond the comfort of the classroom.
Be. A. Sponge.
As I go into a semester that will push my comfort zone and my typical personal surroundings, I hope to be as open as possible. There will be so much to learn from the landscape, from the locals, from my teachers, and from my peers, and I hope to absorb as much as I can.”
Yet, as a result of the unprecedented nature of the times amidst the coronavirus pandemic, I and many other study abroad students across the world were called back to their home countries. Having to leave my study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa two months early meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to fulfill these goals and realize these intentions completely. As a result, a lot of the t’s and i’s of my experience have been left uncrossed and undotted.
But, what I’ve realized, is that they do not need to stay that way.
Upon returning to my hometown, there have been a number of ways that my learning experience has changed.
I am no longer on the University of Cape Town campus.
I am no longer even in a classroom.
I am attending classes and doing assignments online, and from the very familiar comfort of my home.
But that does not mean that the adventurous, spongey learning has to end. My study abroad experience does not need to be over.
I set goals at the beginning of this journey to
“seek adventurous ways to learn”
“be. a. sponge.”
And despite the given circumstances, I choose not to lose sight of those goals.
While I may not be sitting in a classroom in South Africa, surrounded by South African students, it is still possible to learn about South Africa from afar. Thanks to the nature of the technologically gifted and globalized world we live in today, I have access to the resources to continue to learn about and through Cape Town, South Africa. Whether through:
- bringing my all to my partner project with a South African classmate in our Professional Communications course
- staying invested in the South African context and perspective from which my Religion and Society, Consumer Behavior, and Archaeology: The First People courses are being taught
- reading the copy of Nelson Mandela’s Prison Letters that I picked up in the airport bookstore on my way home,
There are so many ways for me to interact with the nature of my study abroad experience. Through doing the things listed above and more, I will continue to learn from my South African peers and professors (and Nelson Mandela himself in his book!) about the educational, communicational, religious, cultural, economic, historical, and political contexts of studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa.
With my eyes still focused on the same goals and intentions that I set at the beginning of this semester, I look forward to the learning and growth that I will continue to gain through my study abroad experience, therefore crossing those t's and dotting those i's. That way, when I return to South Africa one day in the future (because Cape Town, I’m not done with you just yet!), I will return with learnt insights in my back pocket and see its existence through that lens.
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Mary Kaitlin Enright
<p>I was born and raised in Glenview, Illinois, a suburb of the beautiful city of Chicago. When I was fifteen, I was surprised by the unexpected opportunity to move to Hong Kong, when my family was transferred there. That was the very beginning of my relationship with the travel bug, by which I have been afflicted ever since. I spent time traveling around Asia with my family throughout high school, then traveling through Europe in my first year of college while studying abroad in London. Now a Marketing student at Villanova University with minors in Creative Writing and Communication, my next stop is Cape Town, South Africa, and I am excited to share my experience with the world.</p>