Well, it has been just about a week since I left fabulous South Africa… and oh boy do I miss it already! It was certainly bittersweet leaving as I had plenty to look forward to when I came home but I was also leaving the place I had called home for more than half of a year and a place that I loved!
The last day with my parents was spent seeing lots of different places around Cape Town including Llandudno beach, Hout Bay, driving along Chapman’s Peak towards Simon’s Town where we saw even more penguins all before heading back to the Waterfront where we enjoyed our final few hours… and of course a few ice cream cones as well!
Although long, my trip back home went fairly well as I spent more than forty hours in airports in route. I flew from Cape Town to London, London to Chicago, and Chicago to Omaha. Unfortunately due to high winds in Chicago (what a surprise), my two o’clock flight got cancelled and I was bumped to the nine o’clock flight so I got to spend an extra, wonderful seven hours by myself in the Chicago airport. Because of flight availability, my parents actually took a different route back so I flew alone—I actually don’t mind flying alone except when there are long layovers… but I managed to survive! I arrived home (on Tuesday) to a wonderful surprise party thrown by a few of my best friends and so the reunions began. I was able to see a lot of my friends before my parents got in and we headed back to Lincoln. The following day, I was back up at Creighton for the annual Christmas at Creighton celebration which was wonderful—I couldn’t have arrived at a better time as many, many people show up for the fabulous event that includes the lighting of the Christmas lights, choirs, music, and delicious food… of course I ran into a bunch of people there as well! I was able to attend chapter (for my sorority) as well on Wednesday before heading back to Lincoln where I stayed all of Thursday and spent some time with a few friends from high school. I was back up in Omaha again on Friday for my sorority’s semi-formal along with an exec meeting for Pi Phi all day on Saturday. Unfortunately the winter weather decided to show up so I got to head back to Lincoln in the miserable winter conditions on Saturday before heading up yet again on Sunday for a Christmas Party.
As I said, there were certainly things I was looking forwards to when I returned back and I had to adjust back to the American currency… things definitely aren’t as cheap and I certainly miss my forty-cent ice cream cones from Steers or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I am slowly adjusting back to life at home… in fact, it seems like just last week I left for Africa… not six entire months ago. Luckily, I had a trip of a lifetime in the process, one that I am fortunate to have gotten and one that I will certainly not miss. Not only was I immersed in the South African culture, I learned a lot along the way. My IES class focused on healthcare within South Africa while my daily life introduced me to how South Africans’ perceived their own lives and how they went about living their everyday lives.
In reflecting back to my trip already, plain and simply said, I miss it so much! African people are arguably the nicest in the world—a difference that I forgot about over the course of six-months as people enjoyed life and took a more laidback approach to life in South Africa. During my six-months abroad, I got to experience so much—more than what words could ever describe. I got to spend about eight weeks volunteering around Southern Africa, visiting Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa in the process. I had the opportunity to live abroad, in the absolutely stunning city of Cape Town, and experience everything that it had to offer! I tried to get to just about every part of the city and I can say I just about did! I got to play with lions, cheetahs, and other wildlife as well—certainly one of the highlights of the trip! I came nose-to-nose with a great white shark, bungee jumped three times (including twice off the world’s highest), climbed Table Mountain (one of the newly named seven natural wonders of the world), swim in the Indian and Atlantic oceans, rode ostriches, partook in wine tastings in the famous Stellenbosch district, visited Victoria Falls, volunteered and stayed the night in a township, and visited one of the World Cup stadiums. Of course this is just mentioning a few of the things I was able to do during my time abroad. I also met a bunch of local people (who are just about the most wonderful people on the face of this planet) and ate plenty of local cuisine (that I miss already!). My time in Africa was filled with exploring and getting to know another area of the world, one that I was able to call home for six months. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the world around me in the process and became even more independent (certainly a scary thought if you knew how independent I was even before the trip!). I took advantage of every opportunity and left without any regrets… other than having to leave of course!
South Africa and Africa in general will always hold a special place in my heart with lots and lots of memories. I met great people and had the best six months of my life. As I have now transitioned back into my American life, I remember the great times I had abroad and I will continue to cherish them as I pray that I am able to vividly remember them for many, many years to come. I hope to return back to Africa sooner than later and I would encourage all of you to do the same if you ever get the opportunity—I can assure you that you won’t regret it!
Thank-you to all that have followed me during my months abroad and have gotten to enjoy my adventures alongside me. You are the people that made the hours and hours of writing worth it and I can only hope that you got something out of it and learned a little something along the way.
I couldn’t have asked for a better six months—six months that will always have a special place in my heart and can be referred to as the best time of my life thus far (an experience that will be hard to top). Wishing you all the best and again, I hope that one day you will have the opportunity to visit Africa as well!
I’ll leave you with some lyrics from one of my favorite songs… As it says, dream big because you never know what just may come true… “When you dream, dream big, as big as the ocean, blue. Because when you dream it might come true. But when you dream, dream big” –Ryan Shupe & The Rubberband
Last Day in Cape Town 😦
Penguins, Penguins, and more Penguins
Headed Home and Ready for the Long Flight–I don’t really think my parents were claiming me at this point… oh well!