Day 13- Coming Full Circle: The Trip of a Lifetime

imageIt is so bittersweet that this is my last blog post of the whole QU301 South Africa experience. On one hand I’m a tiny bit happy that I don’t have to blog anymore, but at the same time I don’t want to leave South Africa and I can completely see how everything came full circle.

I’m not the type of person to be able to easily express my emotions and feelings but I truly feel this trip has been life changing in numerous ways. In the beginning of the class we were taught how to reflect and I thought to myself,

“How can I reflect on movies and books regarding South Africa’s history if I can’t even reflect on my own life experiences and express my thoughts and feelings to others?”

This class was more than just a class learning about South Africa and going on the trip, it was an opportunity to put myself out of my comfort zone and hope for a memorable experience. Turns out, it was much much more than just a memorable experience.

imageIt seems like forever ago that we were arriving in Johannesburg and I was writing my first blog in South Africa on the bike tour through the Soweto township.

Throughout the class Peter Gallay has taught us about the townships and the horrible living conditions, as well apartheid. Although apartheid is over, we can still witness how there is still such a large gap between the “haves” and “have nots.” It was crazy to see the living conditions in person and know that there are even worse ones out there. I felt really uncomfortable at times riding a tour bus through where people made a life for themselves, and taking pictures as if we were still at the Lion Park.

I personally know that I always tell my parents how I want to redo our house, but watching a man try to put a tire on his roof to keep it down from the wind really puts things into perspective. I went into this trip thinking it might be life changing but it’s hard to put into words what this trip actually meant to me.

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At this point I can’t even pick out my favorite or least favorite parts of this trip because everywhere we have been, and everyone we have met has impacted me in different ways.

We have met so many inspiring people throughout this journey, from Tamarin Simpson, Tamarin’s family and friends, our tour guides, people at the markets, people running Monkeybiz, residents of the townships, and even our bus divers! I hope that some of the people I have met here in South Africa I will keep in touch with forever.

I feel so unbelievably grateful for this opportunity and so thankful my parents have been supportive of this experience. I also feel like this trip to South Africa would not have been the same for me if I wasn’t with such incredible people. I was comfortable that I knew a few people on the trip before the class, but now I can confidently say that everyone from theQU301 South Africa class has contributed to my life altering adventure and everyone has taught me more than I could ever imagine, and even taught me things about myself.

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Never in a million years did I think I would:

  • take a 16 hour flight to South Africa,
  • complete service projects for communities that live in townships,
  • go on a two hour bike tour (which was mostly uphill),
  • go wine tasting, pet a cheetah, giraffe, and lion cubs,
  • see the most beautiful sceneries,
  • make South African friends,
  • learn some Afrikaans,
  • see where two oceans meet,
  • and so much more.

We still have a couple more days of this trip which I plan on hiking table mountain, shark dive, and just try to have everything sink in before leaving.

This experience would not have had such an impact on me if I didn’t take the correlating class and didn’t put myself out there in trying new things and not holding back as much as I usually do. I spoke to my parents last night and told them I wasn’t ready to leave, not only were they shocked because I usually get homesick but they were so proud of me as well; more importantly I am so proud of myself, which is not something I was expecting out of this trip. I know for a fact that I will be back here and will be counting down the days until I can return to this remarkable place.

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