16. What a “famous” number. This number symbolizes so much. You have your sweet 16 to symbolize that you’re closer to some faint understanding of adulthood. It is apparently also the number of introspection. Perhaps that’s why we have sweet 16s. To prompt some sort of introspective analysis about what we’ve been doing with our lives thus far and to try and figure out what the heck we are supposed to do with our future lives. But for me, this number brings very mixed emotions. Today, November 5th, 2018, marks only 16 days left in my program.
I am quite excited to get back home to the United States and be back with family and start working again (because abroad has drained my bank account), but there are also very sad emotions that come with this 16 day mark. I am sad to leave friends and this beautiful country that I have called home for many months now. Going abroad is weird. No one really told me but it’s not an easy notion. You go away from your home for multiple months, in my case close to 5. And while you are here, the first month feels like vacation. It feels like the time will pass so quickly and you’re just here to hang out and do crazy things all the time. So I had the notion that I needed to be doing something every single day that first month that I was here, and I did a pretty good job at living up to that! I was able to do something crazy fun pretty much every single day that I was here for the first month because it was all brand new and I was exploring this beautiful place called South Africa.
But then the realization set in that this is not vacation. This is not a short term kind of thing. This is LIVING in another country. It took me way longer than it should have, in my personal and professional opinion, to come to this realization. It took me a lot longer to realize that it was okay to watch Netflix while I was abroad. It was okay to spend an entire afternoon reading and just hanging around. I didn’t have to do something every single day that was crazy and out of this world. I could just relax and be with myself, and that was okay 🙂
At 16 days left, I have learned so much about myself and what it is like to live in another country.
- I learned that I really am not good with change. This was something that I knew already but I also had the opportunity to learn how to cope with change. How to be okay with change.
- I now have a newfound appreciation for people that are seriously learning new languages that aren’t their mother tongue. There is so much importance in learning another language and it opens so many doors for you. My 7 year relationship with Spanish has given me few real life applications and that is something that really disappoints me. I want nothing more than to be able to speak a new language. (I tried learning Afrikaans, a local language of South Africa, and that was quite a trip within itself. I can show off my two phrases I know when I see you!)
- I learned that a country is more than just its attractions. The friendships that I have gained while being abroad have been ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life. So many people have positively influenced my life while I have been here and I can’t thank them enough! I wish that I could take them all home with my back to Colorado.
So I have 16 days left and there are a lot of mixed emotions. I want to be back home very badly but I also don’t want to leave everything that I have here. I only have two more exams while I am here, on the 10th and 17th so I will just be relaxing and taking in everything that Port Elizabeth has to offer me.
My experience abroad has taught me not to judge anything from a single story. There are so many different ways to experience abroad, there is not one set understanding about what you will learn or experience while you are. I have learned to go with the flow while being here and take it as it comes. (this was my lame attempt at trying to connect my featured image for this post to what I am saying…)
Enjoy just a few photos that I have cherished from being here and some people who have really made this experience so much more memorable 🙂 (there are so many more!!)
SOUTH AFRICA– NELSON MANDELA UNIVERSITY, 2018 FALL
Corrina Teague is a Hospitality Management major. She is attending the ISA: Nelson Mandela University program in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, during the Fall 2018 term. She is hoping to have local experiences and see the natural beauties of South Africa while abroad.