After being mainly anxious and nervous about going to South Africa, my first thoughts when I arrived at the airport to come home were about my arrival and departure. When I was at the airport to depart for home, everything felt surreal to me because I had left the States and now I was going back home.I wasn’t ready to go back; everything had gone by so quickly. I already knew that I was going to miss South Africa before I even left. For example, I wouldn’t be able to wake up and see the beautiful view over the Cape ever morning in Cape Town anymore. I also knew that I wanted to study abroad again;however, I will be more excited and prepared for everything unlike this time, which was my first time ever leaving the country.
Overall, my study abroad experience was awesome because it forced me to do things, I would have never thought about doing, such as hiking up a mountain, getting a temporary tattoo that looked realistic, or trying foreign foods that I would enjoy. I have also become more independent and surer of myself because I was able to live on a budget, talk to new people, and discover new locations myself. By studying aboard, I was able to grow as a person and realize that I actually enjoy traveling to different countries and airplane rides despite believing that I would become too homesick to be happy in a different country away from my family and friends as well as being scared of heights. Also, my study abroad experience also made me want to come back to South Africa for another study abroad trip or just a vacation trip in general because I loved it so much.
My advice to future students, who are thinking about study abroad, as well as myself is to be open to different experiences with an open mind and be less afraid of not liking it because it’s your first time abroad. I wish I had not been so worried about everything at first because my worry impacted my trip experience the whole time; I think I would have been able to enjoy and do more if I hadn’t been a worry wart. Also, I wish I hadn’t packed so many clothes and had known that the hostels we were staying at provided laundry services; therefore, I would have had more space for souvenirs. Moreover, if you plan to go alone somewhere, you have to tell someone where you are going and when they should expect you to return because you have to prioritize your safety in case something happens to you. Also, as a solo traveler, you have to be alert and observe your surroundings because you are in a new environment (this information also applies when you are traveling with others in a group)! Be safe and have fun!