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Pan Out.

While I was off hiking mountains, getting lost on the garden route, and staring down (okay, more like squeaking and trembling in fear of) wild elephants, Philadelphia had the good grace to remain wonderfully unchanged and familiar. I came home to find my favorite noodle bowl at the restaurant down the street, my favorite sofa at the library settled in the same corner, and my favorite people set up in cozy apartments and ready to take on chocolate cake recipes and late night movies. I won’t pretend that I’m not loving every minute of it. After all, it’s good to be home, and as much fun as adventuring in South Africa was, I missed it here.

That being said, I can definitely say that the girl who left Philadelphia isn’t the same one that came back. I’d like to say that the most important thing I took back from Durban was a bit of perspective. I think I’ve always had a bit of trouble remembering how much else there is going on in the world; a problem I’ve gathered is pretty common. After all, grasping the actual scope of things isn’t exactly useful to a productive day to day life. Still, while I’m not saying I’m now enlightened and a type of worldly zen master, I know that living in Durban– and not visiting in some sort of suspension-of-reality vacation mode, but actually living there- has been an invaluable part of my education at Penn because it’s helped me to see things just a little bit more clearly. Meeting people with problems bigger than the typical post-graduate anxiety or priorities not related to future careers -and becoming more aware of exactly how many more opportunities are out there than I thought – was something I definitely needed to do, and I’m very, very grateful to South Africa for being the country that helped me do so.

So South Africa: totsiens, sala kahle, and most importantly, thank you. (:

Over and out,

Az

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