Earlier this week I realized all my classes will be complete by October 24th, which is unfortunately in only 12 days. Two more weeks of class and I’ll be done with my studies here at Stellenbosch. I’ll still be in the area traveling around until November 20th, but the close proximity of the end of classes means many goodbyes are soon to come, which deeply saddens me. I’m hoping the next two weeks of class will be the best yet, although they will probably be the busiest too.
Besides coming to terms that my time here is almost over, I had another excellent week highlighted by a Saturday drive around the Cape Peninsula, which included my third time going to Cape Point and my fourth time going through Simonstown. I’ve now visited Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope more than most local students here, but I’ve enjoyed every trip there. This time, I went there with the same friends I went with on my spring break trip (with one person swapped). Thus the day trip reminded me much of our trip in early September, which feels like it was only yesterday. As the navigator for the day, I was pleasantly surprised by how well I have come to know the roads and regions in the area. More than ever before I feel comfortable here in Stellenbosch and have realized I’ve become more knowledgeable of many of the big attractions in the area than many South Africans who take these places for granted…just like any local would. I’ve been so lucky to have had such an opportunity to get to know the Western Cape so well, and am really hoping now to come back some day…possibly for a Masters degree or even a job.
Speaking of feeling at home, I’ve been lucky enough to make some amazing friends here, including an English South African who lives just outside Cape Town in a suburb called Claremont. After going around the peninsula, I went to her house along with another American friend for her 21st birthday party. The party was Under the Sea themed, and her house was beautifully decorated to fit the theme. I went with a pirate hat and an eye-patch, and over the course of the night got to meet many of her friends from both high school and Stellenbosch, as well as many of her relatives. It was a fantastic party, and in the end I really felt like I was a part of the community and everyday life here. From hearing stories and following along with friends who have been and are currently abroad, it seems like many never really go past being long-term tourists and connect with their host country at a deeper level. I’ve been very fortunate to have made such amazing friends who are from South Africa and have connected with South Africa so much so that I often forget that I’m only here for a small period of time. Study abroad by definition is a very temporary experience, but my goal is to come away with new perspectives as well as long-lasting friendships a relationships. As my trip comes to an end, I am starting to anticipate the challenges of going back home and retaining those perspectives and friendships while life moves on.