Hello my lovely readers!
So I’ve been in Stellenbosch for about a week and half now, and all I can say is WOW!!! Before coming here I could only dream about the things I’ve experienced. Actually carrying them out and getting familiar with the area has been surreal to me. I finally got Internet access yesterday (I was in no rush) but I’m happy I get to post and update whoever is reading.
Upon my arrival I’ve spent a lot of time with my AIFS group members who are all so amazing and unique in their own ways. It’s so funny when people ask us if we knew eachother before traveling to South Africa and we answer no with huge smiles on our faces. I feel so close and safe with these people; our bond was almost immediate. It’s refreshing to meet a group of people from the same country as me who have similar goals and crazy crazy amounts of passion! Connecting with them has made me feel secure here and at peace because I know they’ll always be around, even in the future when my study abroad time is over.
This past week has been filled with a lot of adventure. The first full day we had off from orientation, my AIFS friends and I hiked up the Coetzenburg Mountains. I’m lucky enough to see this view from my bedroom window, let alone be able to climb it! This was probably the highest elevation I’ve hiked without being surrounded by trees, making the view that much more beautiful.
Another free day from orientation, a few of my friends and I joined a group of Germans on a day trip to a local winery, Lanzerac. The thirty minute walk to the estate was definitely worth it! We did a wine and chocolate pairing and got a delicious lunch in addition. I felt very sophisticated indulging in the Western Cape culture of fine wines and food, and was very happy I got to meet some more fun people from Europe and hear their stories of why they chose to study in South Africa.
Afterwards we headed back into town and stumbled upon two adorable wine bars— Bartinney Wine and Champagne Bar and Brampton’s Wine Studio. Both equally incredible, whether we were sitting outside wrapped in fuzzy blankets or surrounded by aesthetically pleasing plants in the windows. Each spot serves local wines with delicious (or as they say in SA “lekker”) dishes/tapas. There I got to share fun life stories and laughs with a few girls in my group I’ve gotten to know pretty well. Days like this one reminded me of how lucky I am to have such amazing and strong female friends, they’re truly an inspiration of how I carry myself.
As classes start this week I’m beginning to find my groove. Deciding what works and doesn’t work within my schedule is nice, but I think the freedom is even nicer! Don’t get me wrong, I had a few days where all I wanted to do was talk to my family and friends, but I’m here for a reason—to be independent and break away from my connections in the States. I’m starting to figure out it’s okay to be disconnected, hence my lack of interest in getting Internet. I am so content being here on my own and experiencing things the way I intended to. This personal freedom has allowed me to be more comfortable with my thoughts/opinions, as well as speak up about them.
“To each is own”— It’s soo cliché to say (especially as a journalism major) but I’ve kept saying and thinking this for the past week. I’ve met a lot of people here from around the globe with similar opinions as me, but also many who may not agree with where I stand on things. However, that’s okay. It’s not even about entitlement, but accepting that everyone IS entitled to their own opinion. I’m always interested to see what the other side is saying or feeling, and I think it allows me to grasp a better understanding for things because I’ve heard both sides.
I am here to learn, experience, and grow.