“So South Africa? Why go there?”
As my school semester wraps up, and that little red dot on my calendar gets closer and closer, I’ve found myself asking that question more and more often. After all, squeezing my entire life (which I’m realizing is surprisingly full of stuff) into two suitcases, waving goodbye to my best friends and cozy apartment, and jetting off to a school and a city in which I know nobody and nothing isn’t something I’m doing on a whim. There is obviously something I’m looking for that drove me through the essay questions,the deadlines, the visa applications and the occasional fluttering of the heart that comes with the realization that in a time so short that can be measured in weeks, I will be standing in Durban, South Africa.
And here’s the hard part: identifying the something. I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure I can in the space of a single blog post. I can try to piece together the kaleidoscope of small things I imagine I will meet in South Africa, but past experience is enough to tell me that expectations and experiences very rarely end up matching. What I can do is say that I hope for an adventure: one in which I meet people I’m amazed by, and people I don’t agree with, in which my priorities shift, in which I’m unsettled and excited and exhausted and, at the end of it, a different person from the one that first arrived. It’s a tall order, but something tells me that South Africa is more than up to the challenge.
To The University of KwaZulu-Natal: I’m excited to meet you. Get ready to bring it.