South Africa, I loved you before I knew you…I think most students obsess over a country they’re going to study abroad in for the semester or year. I’d been interested in South Africa since I was young, even did a middle school report on the country. Then last year before I came to South Africa, I read everything I could get my hands on, watched all the documentaries and movies based in South Africa on Netflix. I bought a used copy of Eyewitness South Africa from my favorite used bookstore, that I’ve never been to, Powell’s. Over winter break I read it page by page, fastidiously making a list of places I wanted to visit, things I wanted to see, and restaurants to try.
Then I had my trip last year, 10 days of seeing bits of South Africa very fast. I didn’t get to tour Johannesburg in 2013, but I did spend 5 days in Port Elizabeth and 2.5 days in Cape Town. I am still amazed how much I was able to see and do in such a short period of time. Not least of which was making the decision to come back for a semester. Then I spent my time over the summer and into the fall just getting everything lined up to come back.
When we got here at the end of January and we hit the ground running. Spent a day in Joburg, then we headed off to orientation and we were kept busy, busy, busy! We were able to see a lot in the first month, I’m really impressed with how much we squeezed in, honestly. A natural slow down occurred in March because of school (you know that whole study bit of study abroad!).
Over the weekend, I had a mid-semester panic about missing something. I was asking a student who was here last semester what should I see before I leave. Then she just said, “You are going to miss something.” I had to let that settle for a minute and accept it. While I may have a list of things that I want to see and do here, I would rather have quality over quantity. I would rather spend my time with people I want to see after this semester is over rather than just checking items off of my To-Do List. Honestly, I think that might be the best piece of advice I’ve gotten so far about spending time abroad. Just realize you will not have enough time, but you can still fit a lot into the time that you have. So yes, you are going to miss something but that is OK.
How are you dealing with not checking everything off of your list?