Wow, it’s finally here. The day that I never felt like would come is here and I’m sitting in the airport and in less than 48 hours I will be in Cape Town.
This week has been a whirl-wind of emotions. Feelings of excitement as the departure date has finally arrived. Sadness in saying goodbye to such great friends. Anxiousness for not knowing what lies ahead of me. Eagerness to learn about and experience a new culture and people. You name the emotion and I’ve felt in some way this week.
So, I’ve decided to write this blog as a way for people to keep up with my adventures and experiences in Cape Town these next four and half months. I want to use this as a place to share the things I am learning and all the crazy experiences I am sure lie ahead of me.
So, I feel like I should address the question that I have been asked so many times
“Why Cape Town?”
Yes, Cape Town isn’t a stereotypical study abroad. A year ago, I would have told you I would be in Spain right now. Spain seemed right because I am a Spanish Minor and I could hopefully reach my ultimate goal of being fluent after five months of living there. But God had a different plan for my upcoming semester. Last year, my mom was in South Africa for a short period of time. She showed me pictures of how beautiful South Africa was and told me about her experiences in the townships. (Townships are the impoverished communities that surround the main city of Cape Town. This is where most the crime is and racial struggle is experienced.)
In that moment, Cape Town captured my heart. I didn’t know much about Cape Town or its history. Honestly, I have no good explanation of why it captured my heart like that; it just did. This is the first time in my life that I can say that I really felt like God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone and this bubble I have been living in and go to Cape Town.
The more I continued to explore the program at the University of Cape Town, the more perfect the idea of studying abroad in Cape Town was. It was the only school that I could find with a physics class that aligned with TCU’s curriculum so I would be able to graduate on time. Then I found a class that offered by UCT that is community service based. This class will allow me to get out into the community and serve in medical atmosphere – what could be more perfect for me as a pre-med student? All of this was affirmation to me that God wanted me in Cape Town for the semester.
Even though I was so strongly called to Cape Town and everything seemed to be working out perfectly, these months leading up to now have not been easy. I have many days that I’ve sat in my bed debating whether I should go or if I should go somewhere else. I’ve had many people talk to me that kind of discouraged me from going because of safety or it just sounds too crazy. Then on top of it all in October, I received an email from IES that there were riots in Cape Town that were going to delay the start of the semester for a month.
I had to make a decision. I prayed for clarity and was still feeling my heart being tugged toward Cape Town even if it made me kind of uneasy. Then one day when I was talking to my mom about it she said something to the effect of “You won’t have the same experience anywhere else – you will experience so much culture and recent history there and will not come back the same.” That sold it for me.
My goal for my semester abroad was not so much to travel the world and as much as I would like to be kind of stuck. I have been blessed with a family that travels a lot so I really want to use this time to really get to know a culture and experience what it is like to live there. I wanted to be a little more stuck and not feel like I needed to travel every weekend. I wanted to be able to give back to the community in some way that I will be living in. And Cape Town had all of this for me.
So having said all this, my goal for this semester is to get involved with the community and learn as much as I can about South African history and culture. I want to be 100% present in Cape Town and not missing home. I want to be involved with the people and communities of South Africa. I hope to get involved with a local church that can provide opportunities to get out into the community and townships and serve. I hope to gain friends that will show me the hole in the wall restaurants and help me truly experience Cape Town.
So I’m asking for lots of prayer to prepare my heart for this adventure that I am about to embark on. This is the biggest leap of faith I have taken as I have no idea what lies ahead of me, but I pray for comfort and that I will be ready to receive whatever God has in store for me this upcoming semester. I know he has me in Cape Town for a reason and I cannot wait to see what he will do these next four and half months.