Tag Archives: Study Abroad South Africa

Seeing And Believing

What does your Africa look like?


What we see should not be what we believe.

Hello Readers

Some of you might know that I live on the African continent. Those who need to refresh their memory on what the African continent looks like, please look below.

It is said that the shape of the African continent can be found on the African elephants ear. I’ll leave that for you the readers to judge.


I recently came across a video blog based on peoples opinions of South Africa. With the following pics I will show you some of their answers.

Our Roads


Our Animals


Our houses


Our People


As a South African I did not know how to respond to these opinions. If you the reader have agreed with these opinions, then please let me show you, my South Africa.






Yes, we do have amazing wildlife but they are on Game ranchers, away from suburban areas.



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What comes to mind when you hear “Africa”?

Are you going to study abroad some where in Africa?  This might be a good video to show your friends and family when you break the news.  Over and over again students tell their families that they’re headed for a semester in South Africa or another African country and the questions start regarding safety, animals, or modernity. However, each student who travels to an African country has the chance to stop the single story being told of the African continent and her people.

Remember, if you are studying abroad, you are going there to learn and not save anyone.  Be open-minded. Be a student.

7 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Your Life

I loved my weekend alone in Johannesburg. Its funny to say that I traveled alone because I never felt alone, not the whole time! I met an amazing South African artist on the plane, connected with a great group of people at my hostel, and toured the city and had lunch with a group of women from The Netherlands. I had lost my voice in the dry winter air and everyone was so kind to me. Traveling “alone” can be amazing!!!

Our Journey Back to MN

Here’s a video compilation of our long trip back to Minnesota from Port Elizabeth.  We flew from PE to Johannesburg. From Johannesburg we flew into Dulles (Washington, DC).  Then we got a shuttle from Dulles to National Airport to avoid a 12-hour layover.  Then from National we flew into Minneapolis.

First 24

Moments of culture-shock durning first day being back in the States:

1) Just hearing one language, my ears are bored
2) How loud the commercials and TV shows are. It seems like everything is on level 10 and stays there
3) I keep going to the wrong side of the vehicle
4) No one is walking, I’m used to seeing many people walking to work, school, the store, and even on the highways people are walking
5) Where are the combies??? Seriously, I miss these guys.
6) Going to the grocery store made my eyes vibrate. All of our packaging is SO bright!
7) Wastefulness is everywhere
8) Americans really are loud
9) Our vehicles are huge
10) I’m handling US money like foreign currency

My heavy heart


As I get ready to leave South Africa my time could quite easily be consumed with marking a list of lasts.  But then I would forget to marvel in the beauty that each new day brings. I keep thinking that this is a bittersweet moment. However, today I had a realization, my heart is not heavy from sadness. On the contrary, I leave South Africa with my soul opened, a wealth of new experiences, and friends. My heart is heavy with love.

Africa Invents


South Africa’s Mining Industry

South Africa's Mining Industry

South Africa’s Talent Gap


First world problems?

In 2013, when I was first in South Africa for a short-program we were told during orientation to “turn off our first-world switch.” The speaker wanted us to adjust our expectations and outlook while we were visiting his country. Traveling around South Africa is it easy to see why the term third world has fallen out of use for the more accurate developing countries, semi-developed, or not developed (basically assessing their development not their worldliness). I was always confused when I heard that term growing up it seemed akin to Middle Earth, we are all on the same planet, how could they be in another world? Anyway, I digress.

Something else we were told during orientation was that South Africa is a mix, first-world right next to third-world conditions with many places inbetween. There are places in South Africa where you are in such luxury that it does not seem like the same country would have remote Peace Corps volunteers with emergency evacuation plans. There’s a meme which illustrates the extent to which most Americans or Europeans could not imagine living in the conditions that the majority of people on this planet live everyday its called, First World Problems. This meme can be very funny showing people dramatically overreacting to the slightest inconvience. One luxury that has been difficult and many of us just have not adjusted is slow internet.

When I first got here the joke was made that we are just spoiled and this is a “first-world problem.” And we’re coming from the US with internet speed that lags behind many other developed countries! Actually, instead of an adjustment that we need to get used to, it feels like we are sitting on the digital divide’s fault line. I can see people getting left behind each day because they lack access to the digital world. Those who do have access here are wasting time and energy because their on-ramp to the digital highway is poorly constructed. How does this impact entrepreneurship? Education? Health care?

Currently there is a debate back in the United States about the internet and equal access. One side of the argument asserts that internet access and the internet in general is a utility (i.e. electricity) to which we should all have access. This debate helped push my thoughts to the developing countries and their lack of basic services. I know much of the world and some here in South Africa still struggle for clean drinking water and being concerned about internet access may seem far fetched. However, it is one more way that people are being divided and left behind.


The lack of internet manifests itself at university in several ways. One, students don’t have internet at home which makes additional learning difficult. NMMU does not have a 24 hr library or computer lab therefore students without these facilities at home do not have the same opportunities to study as students who do. Two, it can be challenging for a teacher because online “handouts” or YouTube videos are a great tool for students but not if they lack internet access. I’ve come to rely on these supplemental learning tools, especially for English Language Learners because they can then have the information at their disposal to review as many times as they’d wish.

Much of the conversation in the US around the digital divide is aimed at the high school students, younger students, and non-students who do not have internet access. However, in many places it has a real impact on university students and businesses. Slow internet and no internet seems more like a development opportunity than a cultural difference.

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