The Student News Site of Wofford College

Old Gold & Black

Breaking News
  • Issue 7 Out Now!

Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Studying abroad in South Africa

Studying+abroad+in+South+Africa

 

By: Essence Buckman, Staff Writer

Ever since I made the last minute decision in October to study abroad in South Africa through the School for International Training (SIT), I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the trip of a lifetime. Learning about multiculturalism and human rights sounded exciting to me. Plus, my financial aid paid for my program and I had an overage to help pay for other expenses.

However, as my departure date approached I found myself growing more nervous than excited. I wondered if I would be forgotten by my close friends and family at home. I had never travelled on a plane for more than 5 hours, including layover time—travelling for 30 hours was a huge deal to me! I found myself being buried beneath all of my fears. I started to have second thoughts. I didn’t want to leave, but I was already committed.

Story continues below advertisement

After the stress of packing and last minute preparations, I finally arrived to the Charlotte airport on Jan. 25. Whether I was ready or not, it was time for me to embark on my two-day journey. It did not go well. The first flight was seven hours to London, followed by an 11 hour layover in London. Tim Lindsey ’18 and I travelled together. We tried to sleep and read our orientation material to pass the time.

An 11 hour flight followed but the plane left 30 minutes late. When we arrived in Johannesburg, we only had one hour to go through security and get our visas stamped. I was freaking out and was certain we would miss our next flight. Tim and I ran for what seemed like forever to security check in. I haven’t sweated like that in a while. We made it to our flight on time, and two hours later we arrived at our final destination: Capetown, South Africa.

The relief was short lived. We went to baggage check in and waited, but no bags came. Again, I was growing frustrated. We went for help and found out we were supposed to check our bags in again when we arrived at Johannesburg. I had no clue! I was angry and began having regrets about coming. We met up with our academic advisor who assured us that our bags were in Johannesburg. After hours of waiting, we were notified that our bags arrived to Capetown. I was extremely relieved after a long, stressful two days.

After settling in, I met a great group of people and we all clicked immediately. I believe the bonding during orientation week created strong relationships among classmates. I’ve only been here for two weeks and already have experienced so much. The food is great and the people resemble Americans. I hiked Lion’s Head Mountain, which definitely pushed my physical limits. I also stayed at a game reserve for a few days and experienced the animals that roam these lands. I was even lucky enough to wake up and see a Zebra right outside my door.

Orientation week was followed by our first homestay in Langa and the first week of classes. The syllabus was overwhelming and I was beyond anxious to meet my homestay family. I kept wondering, “What if I don’t fit in or feel out of place?” The butterflies were flooding my stomach as I watched my classmates get dropped off and greet their Xhosa family. I kept waiting for my stop.

My worry was eased a little as the children of Langa ran up to the bus and yelled “Umlungu!” as we were waving at them. That word means “white person.” Even I am considered “Umlungu” because I was born in America. Who would’ve thought I’d ever be considered “white” in my lifetime?

The moment finally came and I met my “mama” Violet, my “sisi” Abby and my “bhouti” Siya. Siya was waiting for me at the gate as I arrived, which made me feel much better. That same night I was given the Xhosa name “Nolathando,” meaning “with love.” I loved it. I also loved that so many Langa natives really believed I was South African. Some didn’t believe I was born in America.

I have only been here a few days, but Siya and I already have so much in common. He plays soccer and I used to as well. He also aspires to be a lawyer, which is something I have been interested in, too. I think it was fate that drew me to this particular family.

Overall, these upcoming three weeks of learning a new language, living with a new family, handling classes, managing restrained wi-fi and other adjustments will be a challenge. I am still struggling to get used to this new experience, but I’m also having memorable moments. I expect a humbling culture shock. It has taken a while to sink in that I am in South Africa. I am excited and scared for what is to come next, but I am hopeful that this experience will change me for the better. Until next time!

Donate to Old Gold & Black
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Wofford College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Old Gold & Black
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal