In the Spring semester of 2008, I studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. This was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life! It was the most amazing journey, filled with awesome experiences.
Before going to South Africa, I decided to go spend two weeks exploring Ghana with my older sister, Josephine, who was working in an orphanage in a village in the Volta Region (Eastern Region of Ghana). Getting to explore this part of Western Africa was such a wonderful and different experience. Some of the incredible experiences include getting stay at the orphanage in a small village (where we had to carry the water we needed to use for the day back from a stream that was about ¾ of a mile away on our heads!), seeing the tallest waterfall in Ghana, attending games at the African Cup, visiting old Slave Forts on the coast, swimming in the beautiful, warm beaches and meeting so many wonderful and hospitable Ghanaian people.
After visiting Ghana, I flew to Cape Town, South Africa. I lived in a cute little house in an area of Cape Town known as Mowbray, which was very close to the University. I was randomly paired up to live with two Americans and one German. At University of Cape Town I took three courses: Physics, Genomics, and Xhosa.
Xhosa is one of South Africa’s 13 official languages, which is spoken with a clicking sound - unlike anything I’ve ever heard before and so much fun to learn! I think it is really important to make an effort to learn at least a little bit of a native language in a foreign country. People were always so receptive and impressed to hear me trying to speak their language?it was a really good way to break down barriers and get to know people.
It was so interesting and fun to live in South Africa and meet the people and experience with them what their lives are really like. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and I found it especially fascinating to talk to people about apartheid, which has played such a huge role in shaping South Africa. Some of the fun things I did include skydiving over the coastline, bungee jumping from the Bloukrans Bridge (the highest bridge in the southern hemisphere, and the highest bungee jump in the world!), cage-diving with Great White sharks, exploring the Cango Caves, going on Safaris, hiking Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain, rock climbing, wine tasting in Stellenbosch, learning to surf, exploring the beaches,
During and after my studies at University of Cape Town I took advantage of the opportunities to travel throughout Africa and beyond! The other countries I visited included Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Egypt, Turkey, and England. Some of the highlights of these trips include: Mozambique - snorkeling, diving with Whale Sharks and meeting the wonderful locals; Namibia - seeing the impressive sand dunes, sand boarding, sky-diving, safaris in Etosha National Park; Tanzania - going to Zanzibar and getting scuba certified, climbing Mt. Meru (second tallest mountain in Africa, across from Mt. Kilimanjaro); Zambia - seeing Victoria Falls and getting to go white-water rafting on the Zambezi; Zimbabwe - seeing Victoria Falls; Botswana - safari in Chobe National Park and taking a little canoe through the Okavango Delta; Egypt - seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, seeing many temples, riding a camel, taking a cruise down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, scuba diving in the Red Sea, exploring Cairo; Turkey - seeing Haigia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace; England - Buckingham Palace, Cabinet War Museum (bunker where Churchill conducted all of WWII), the Globe, and London Bridge.