Somehow I’ve been here for over a month already, and I can’t decide if I feel like I’ve been here forever or no time at all. South Africa is an amazing, confusing, beautiful and often frustrating place. Just on the short ride from the airport to where we stay near UCT campus, we passed townships of tiny tin shacks, suburbs reminiscent of the U.S., and the modern skyline of Cape Town flanking the coast, all set on the impressive backdrop of Table Mountain. I remember thinking, through a disorienting fog of jetlag that turned out to linger for almost a week, that I had never seen such a seemingly disjointed country. Read more
I write this in school coffee shop on an oversized comfy-chair with two legs clad in warm leggings hanging off the armrest. Every morning, I wake up—not too late, but definitely not too early—in a warm bed with four blankets to make up for the lack of any sense of a proper-working heater in my apartment. The day, everyday, is filled to the brim with classes, practices, meetings, and the daily dose of dining hall. To me, this life is “normal”, usual for a student my age. Any other life seems irregular and foreign. What do I want to gain from my experience abroad? Simple: a new “normal”.
Perhaps the greatest difference between a tourist and a full-time student abroad is what each call “home”. Home is a place of identity, support, and comforting familiarity; it is a context in which things are regular. A tourist walks through the Uffizi Galleria in Florence or roams the royal castles in Stockholm as a visitor, wide-eyed and perhaps feeling a little out of place. For a student abroad, however, sunbathing on the beach in Barcelona or hiking to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town are not out of ordinary, for those are the adventures that become regular, and those the places that become a part of “home”. Read more