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Colorado to Cape Town: 36 Days

After a whirlwind finals week at the University of Denver, my (short) summer has finally begun. Throughout the chaos of papers, projects, exams, and packing, it was easy for me to forget about the adventure in Cape Town that soon awaits me. However, somewhere during the “see-you-in-January-goodbyes”, reality started to sink in and I was reminded about the trip that will commence in just 36 days. Between the looming what-if questions that are unavoidable for nearly any student planning to go abroad and my Type-A personality, I’m anxious to be in Cape Town simply so I can stop stressing about the pre-trip nerves and tasks.

What if my classes are hard? What if I get lost? What if I have trouble adjusting? What do I need to buy before I go? What will I miss at home? Will I make meaningful friendships?

Whenever I feel nervous, I research South Africa remind me of the culture I’m about to explore. I have such a passion for learning about other people and the opportunity to live with others who are entirely different from me makes me feel truly lucky. At most, I’ve only lived an hour from the town in which I was born and raised and many of my peers never leave our small city. I’m excited beyond words for this opportunity, though it will be very new to me. I can’t wait to remove the cultural context which I’ve grown accustomed to and discover what life is like for others. I want to learn about the assumptions of the South African lifestyle, their struggles, their successes, and what it means to be a member of a global community.

Selfishly, too, I can’t wait to learn about myself. The luxury of living in Denver near all of my close friends and family members will be stripped away and I’ll be halfway around the world with no familiar face except my own. When forced into independence, people discover the most about themselves, I think. I wonder how the convergence of self discovery and foreign culture will shape the person who will return to Denver in seven months.

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