My not so sweet, very emotionally confusing actually, 16…

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!!)

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Corrina Teague

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.

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On Procrastination and Labradors

The longer I go without finishing this blog, the funnier it gets. I started it almost two weeks ago and then left it alone in my documents folder. Fortunately, I’m not alone in my imperfection – procrastination seems to be pretty universal, according to my extensive accidental research that I’ve done while actually procrastinating. Because obviously a better cure for procrastination than actually finishing my blog post is reading five books on procrastination and then cleaning the kitchen because I can’t start anything else until I’ve written a treatise on how I’m going to beat my procrastination.

I think I’m allergic to starting anything until either a) I know it’s gonna be great or b) THE DEADLINE IS TOMORROW. Option B happens 95% of the time, and deadlines are the only reason I’ve done the majority of the things I can put on a school application or a resumé. The other 5% of the time never. Happens. Instead, this weird thing happens where I’m totally unsure about how The Thing will turn out but I do it anyway. That is the reason I’ve finished writing novels, have a massive stash of my drawings and paintings back home, and am on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

A few weeks ago, on a Tuesday, I realized that I had a free weekend coming up. I’ve already spent several weeks squirrelled away in my flat, pretending to do homework but actually reading, cleaning, or cooking. My primary form of exploration has been finding new cafés to sit in and actually do homework. Tuesday, I agonized over what I should do – I hadn’t planned anything, should I just stay home again and wait for a better weekend? No, absolutely not. I came here to see Scotland, not just the inside of one flat. But what to do? A grand solo adventure up to Inverness? A hike around Loch Lomond? A weekend in Aberdeen? Or stay in Glasgow and just go to a museum?

Luckily, I wasn’t alone in a hidey-hole in a tea shop when I had this moment. I was in my flat, with friends who pulled me back into reality. No, a giant solo trip isn’t a good idea when just going grocery shopping wipes me out, but it’s time to adventure a little more. I’d already been to Edinburgh for a day trip, maybe it would be good to go there again so I’m not as overwhelmed. But this time, think about going overnight – that way I’ve done it and I can go a little farther next time. Within half an hour, I had a friend from the RCS to travel with, a return train ticket and an AirBnB booked for Friday night.

I was terrified. I felt underprepared, I had no events to go to, I had no idea how to use the public transportation, and I didn’t even know where I was going to go to dinner. (priorities, right?) It didn’t matter, I’d bought the tickets and refused to waste the money. So I did some Googling and found an article on Edinburgh by Alexander McCall Smith. Said article suggested canal walks and delicatessens – much more my speed than battling the crowds to pay £18 to get into Edinburgh Castle.

The trip was gloriously imperfect. I packed my backpack, proceeded to accidentally soak it in the tiny RCS bathroom, and hopped on the train with not one but three other musicians, complete with harp and fiddle. I couldn’t get into my AirBnB, so I had to find a café with free WiFi so I could look up the check-in instructions again. I found the check-in instructions (I’d been using the wrong key) but I also found a café with a designated overly affectionate Labrador on duty and tablet made by the owner’s mum. I went to the Italian delicatessen alone, found a restaurant in the back, and ate dinner there alone – spending an hour over a wonderfully rich, smooth chocolate torte. I then met up with my fiddler friend and we went to a Scottish music session in a pub on the Royal Mile.

After my beautiful anti-procrastination trip, I came home and proceeded to procrastinate my essay for the next week. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many blogs you read (or write!) about beating procrastination, how many plans you make, or how good you are at the theory of not procrastinating anymore. It matters that you decide to act now, with the acceptance of all the resources that are and are not at your disposal.

I know I’m not going to start a revolution of thought or write the most profound Thing ever to exist. I know that in many ways, my essays, travels, and interactions will be very, very average. I’m still going to try to be exceptional – I don’t think it’s possible to turn off my “GIVE 200%!!!” switch. But it’s a heck of a lot better to give a disorganized 80% than to give 0% by never doing the Thing at all.


Alice Major

SCOTLAND – UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW, 2018 FALL

Alice Major is studying at the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland. She is a double major, focusing mostly on music and adding history because history is cool. Study abroad is Alice’s first time out of the country, and she hopes to come home in one piece and with a wicked Scottish accent.

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