A month and a day

It’s my one month anniversary with study abroad and I must say, I think I am falling in love with her.

I have currently been living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for a month and a day now and I can rest assured that I made the correct choice for study abroad. Choosing was not easy however. I’ve travelled Europe with my mom and visited my grandparents in Australia so I did not want to go back to either. Unfortunately my Spanish is not at the level I would like to visit a Spanish speaking country. I was torn between Thailand and South Africa, both of which have such densely beautiful cultures and landscapes but I ultimately decided upon South Africa. I was delighted when South Africa chose me too!

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Over the past month and a day I have done some crazy amazing things here! I hiked Sacramento Trail along the coast and got this amazing photo!

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I have gone to a game reserve and got to see the most amazingly beautiful animals in the world. The week prior to visiting them, they had poachers come in and kill one of their rhinos so it was sad except that they believed the poachers that entered their reserve were the same ones that were eaten by lions a coupe days later. Karma?

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I GOT TO RIDE A HELICOPTER! CRAZIEST EXPEREINCE EVER!! Having never rode a helicopter before in my life, this was definitely a highlight, if not the coolest thing I have done this whole month. IMG_0250

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Besides my crazy adventures, I have been able to visit the townships, which are the poor areas of PE, and see how life is there. We were able to get a braai (barbecue) in one of the townships and it was the best meal I have had so far. I have been able to meet locals as well as so many internationals from places like Germany, France, Mexico, Norway and others.

A couple of things that I have noticed within this month abroad:

  1. Knowing foreign languages is so cool and so important. GET THAT MINOR IN SPANISH! I have met people who speak 4 different languages while I can speak English and just a touch of Spanish. It is so important so speak other languages so do it!!!
  2. Never judge a book by its cover. Or the stories you hear about it. I remember telling people that I was going to live in South Africa for 6 months and anticipated their horrified faces shortly after the scream that sometimes escaped their lips. Every single person that I told reminded me to “be safe” as if I had not heard that 100 times before. While South Africa does have crime and protests, I have felt so safe this first month and almost everything that I was advised about has not been true. It’s important to have caution, but don’t let it ruin your time abroad.
  3. Port Elizabeth and all South African people are so incredibly friendly and I wish that my world back home was the same. People greet you no matter where you are. They are always willing to help you if you need it. I feel so at home here in PE.

I have made sweet friendships in the past month and sweet memories as well. South Africa has my heart.

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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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What I’d Wish I’d Known…

One thing I wish I had known before I studied abroad was that culture shock can happen to anyone, even if you think you are familiar with the culture.

The program that I participated in took me to Alexandria, Egypt where I completed an intensive third year Arabic language program. The faculty member in charge of the program and his program chaperons were very informative. They were helpful about how to navigate daily life in Egypt and what to be aware of in regards to cultural interactions. Although, there was one thing that was not covered, and that was how to deal with culture shock.

The stages of culture shock are:

  1. Initial Euphoria/Honeymoon Stage
  2. Irritation and Hostility/ The Negotiation Stage
  3. Gradual Understanding/ The Adjustment Stage
  4. Adaptation or Bi-culturalism/ The Mastery Stage

Culture shock slide

I definitely experienced each of these phases despite the fact I was already knew what to expect with the culture of the Middle East. Here are some suggestions of how to curb culture shock in each stage:

  1. Learn as much about the culture as possible:
    1. Whether or not you have familiarity with a culture, there is always more to learn and explore.
  2. Ask study abroad coordinators for advice
    1. If you have a study abroad coordinator that is very familiar with your program location, ask them questions about what to expect. They are a wealth of resources to prepare for housing, travel, and daily social interactions.
  3. Write down what you love when you first arrive, and look back later
    1. Journaling is always a good for the mind and soul. This is a good way to release stress and remember joyful events. Writing down positive experiences can help when you have rough days and need to remember what you love about your programs location.
  4. Talk to other students about how you feel
    1. If you have other students on your study abroad program, communicate with them about your experiences
  5. Push yourself to make local friends
    1. Do not isolate yourself and try to stay social. Reach out to local students and make new friends and connections. This will help you in becoming more familiar with your surroundings and feelings of loneliness.
  6. Try to see things through host culture’s eye
    1. If you disagree or do not appreciate something from your host culture, take a step back and look through their eyes. There is always a reason for culturalisms.
  7. Get involved with the local community

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