It’s pretty common for a person to come home from a long vacation and say that it changed their life. I know that when I went on family vacations when I was little, I wouldn’t be able to think about anything else besides the fact that I wished I were still there. Although I do have that mindset about South Africa, it is completely different this time. I actually believe that this experience has changed the way that I view the world.
While in South Africa, I tried to pay specific attention to things that I wouldn’t normally think of at home. I almost felt like I had to watch my mouth when saying things that pertained to race, because their race relations are much different than ours. However looking back, I see that that is probably the reason why there is such a difference, because even though everyone has the same rights, there is still an obvious gap between them. While talking to some South Africans, they thought it was so weird that Americans had only two main races when we were split before civil rights, and even now when referring to races. They thought it was too broad that we had only black and white, with no other big racial groups in between. Personally, I don’t think that these should be relevant anymore. I feel like society thinks that we need to classify people by their skin color or race, instead of looking at each other like human beings. I think that everyone judges at a first impression, but to me I felt like America is better at treating everyone equally.
Many South African’s asked if we had noticed a “gap” between people while we were there. This gap mainly pertained to the difference between money and wealth. I felt that this was extremely noticeable. I mentioned it in another blog, that there were so many contrasts between the poverty and the wealthy. One of our last days, we took a tour to Cape Point, and drove along the coast of Cape Town. While driving we saw so many extravagant houses on the water that were worth millions. I looked at those and thought, “how lucky those people were to be living there,” and “how amazing it would be to stay there.” I was in this amazement until we were on our way back to our hotel and passed by a township. I had completely forgotten that so much of South Africa was living that way, because I was in a sort of bubble when looking at tourist attractions and the nice housing. Situations like this made me think more about cultural differences, and when going to beautiful countries like South Africa, it isn’t only about the nice scenery and architecture, but also about the culture.
I have never studied the history of any country besides the United States in depth until I took this QU301 class. Visiting South Africa while knowing the stories behind so many of the important monuments, museums, and areas we went to made the trip so worthwhile. I spoke to a friend who was in South Africa, but not with Quinnipiac, and she didn’t know a lot about the history of the country. I almost felt sorry for her because by understanding the history, I appreciated the country so much more. Although I feel that as a society they have a lot to do, from knowing the history I can tell they have accomplished a lot. This trip made me think deeper about situations, while also valuing everything around me, and I truly believe it has changed my life.