It’s hard to believe that the end of the quarter is finally here and that in 5 days I will be in South Africa. I have been anticipating this study abroad experience all quarter and I am looking forward to every aspect of it. I am particularly excited about the opportunity to immerse myself into this new and foreign culture for two weeks. Additionally, I am eager to learn about the rich history of South Africa from the perspective of the natives.
In speaking with others about this trip, I have been asked why I chose South Africa. My response to this question has been: I chose this study abroad trip because of the unique learning opportunity it offers. I will have the chance to gain both experiential and service learning social work experiences. During my time in Cape Town, I will engage with South African social workers and through hands-on involvement learn how services are delivered to communities.
In thinking about this trip, I have been conscious about not creating any assumptions about the communities I will be entering. I have tried not to allow the western stereotypes about South Africa, or Africa in general, to influence my thoughts of what this study abroad trip will be like. I am going in open-minded.
Moreover, I have tried my best not to develop any expectations relating to the trip. However, that’s always easier said than done. My primary expectation is that this trip opens not only my eyes but my heart. From this first-hand experience, I am hoping to obtain insight into a country and culture I am currently unfamiliar with.
In spite of my eagerness, I have experienced some feelings of trepidation. These feelings relate to my personal anxiety. My apprehension pertains to my traveling to South Africa on my own. I will be in South Africa alone for 3 days prior to class convening on the 19th. I plan on spending a couple days in Johannesburg then head to Cape Town on the 17th.
In addition to my nervousness about traveling alone, I am concerned about inserting myself into a space which is not my own. I am particularly concerned about the privileges that I will carry with me and how that will influence my interactions with those around me. Or rather, I should say that I am concerned about how I will carry my privileges with me during the duration of this course.
Nonetheless, I am open to the experience and will definitely step outside the confines of my comfort zone. I intend to be open and to bring my authentic self to every encounter. I am ready to lean into my discomfort and by doing so, I hope to gain perspective.