Guest Post: Allison from the Sunday Flog
This guest post is from Allison, my friend from high school. I love her passion for traveling and how much she values delicious meals shared with family and friends. She shares that on her blog (warning: after you will want to go over for house for dinner). Here, she captures how challenging it can be to travel to a new country – but how her experience still influences her today.
Hi friends and faithful followers of Brenna’s awesome blog! My name is Allison, and I write at The Sunday Flog where I share big family Sunday dinners, recipes, and other fun things I love.
When Brenna asked me if I would write a guest post while she’s away, I put aside my jealousy of her travels and happily obliged – I jump at any chance I can get to talk about South Africa.
Years ago (sad), I made a wise decision to study abroad for Spring semester 2008. After weighing a few options, I settled on the University of Cape Town, South Africa for a few reasons: 1) I would likely never make it to South Africa without this opportunity (and dad’s wallet), and 2) I could pay a lot for a flight, but live CHEAPLY, as opposed to paying nothing for flight and live on the Euro or Pound. Happily, I applied to UCT, and before I knew it, I was off to The Motherland.
I remember standing in JFK airport, knowing no one, and realizing that we were all in the same boat. We were about to embark on an amazing adventure together, so we had better get to know each other. Fast forward 24 hours. I heard my name called along with two other girls, dragged my huge duffel up 15 steps, and walked into my new flat. I can recall lying in bed that first night and staring around my room thinking, “Well, this is it! This is my life for the next 5 months.” That was the start of the most amazing adventure of my life.
From that first day, I took every moment to “seize the moment” to the fullest. Cape Town was beautiful, and I didn’t want to miss it by sitting in a classroom. Luckily, classes were HUGE, so I skipped out when I could to go on adventures. I frequented the white beaches flanked by the stunning Table Mountain in the background, rode mini-bus taxis all over downtown Cape Town, and even road tripped to Namibia with a bunch of friends. In hindsight, there were many moments in Namibia where I likely could have died, but we all made it home safe and sound.
During Easter holiday, a group of us signed up for a 10 day trip through Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We rode overland vehicles, slept in tents, woke up in the wee hours of the morning for breathtaking game drives, visited the markets in Zimbabwe, rode elephants, played with lions, and bungee jumped off the bridge at Victoria Falls. I took it all in, every beautiful moment that truly made me feel alive. I wanted to capture this feeling and never forget it.
Studying and living in South Africa truly changed me. I know many people say that when they return from studying abroad, but I actually mean it, even three years later. I came home, immediately hated what I was studying in school, and decided I would not waste a moment of my life. I had been on a crazy adventure and wanted that to continue forever. It made me realize that life is entirely too short to spend it unhappy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about South Africa, and the friendships I made at UCT – both South African and American – will last forever.
If you have the chance to go abroad, take it. As I sit at my desk job day in and day out, I am so fortunate to have had that experience. Don’t think you will “miss out” on things happening at home, and be concerned that you will miss out on the experience of a lifetime. Happy travels to all!