Saying Goodbye To Snow, Don’t Cha Know?

Catherine Vaught University of Cape Town, South Africa


January 14, 2016

Believe it or not, I am the third member of my family to study abroad in South Africa. It’s probably a pretty cool place to travel, right? I figure, both my brother and sister can’t be lying when they say this country changed their lives. So, I figured, why not let it change mine? Here’s my current state of mind: 

Things I’m excited for...

  • Warm weather
    • Even though I’ve lived in northern Minnesota my whole life, I swear I wasn’t made for subzero temperatures. Seriously, it’s been colder than Antarctica at times. To say I’m excited to skip three months of winter is an understatement. Bye-bye parka, hello tank tops!
  • The ocean
    • So, I just complained about living in northern Minnesota, but it has its perks. The biggest one was growing up right on the shores of Lake Superior. For me, being close to water makes anywhere feel like home. Though we don’t have sharks in Minnesota, so I might be just a little more cautious as I take on the ocean waves.
  • Outside time
    • You might have read in my bio that one of my passions is spending time outdoors. That being said, one of the first items on my South African bucket list is hiking Table Mountain. I can’t wait to explore new surroundings and soak up the summer sun (don’t worry, I packed sunscreen).
  • New food
    • I wouldn’t say I’m the most adventurous eater, but like my mom said when I was little: “You don’t know you dislike something until you try it.” So, I’m taking that attitude with me as I explore the new cuisine South Africa has to offer. And I already know they have peanut butter and bananas, so I’m set.

Things I’m nervous for...

  • Being away from family
    • Most of my family lives just a short drive from the University of Minnesota, which means we get together often. Being across the ocean instead of across the street will take some getting used to, but that’s the beauty of FaceTime.
  • Hours (and hours!) of traveling
    • Speaking of across the ocean, I’m a bit anxious for my 26 hours of flying. One consolation is that I’ve flown before - many times. The difference? I’ve never flown internationally. So, my longest flight to Seattle (4 hours) might be trumped by my flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town (over 11 hours).
  • Language barrier
    • Just like my friends and I throw lingo and trendy sayings around campus, I know I’ll encounter new language from the locals. Hopefully I’ll pick it up pretty quickly! Also, I realize my Minnesotan accent may be intriguing to not just the locals, but the out-of-state students as well.
  • Living in a new country
    • I’ll be honest; I’m not the biggest risk taker. I thrive on routine and predictability. I’m slowly learning in life, though, that amazing things come my way when I just let them happen. I know that I could read all the travel guides published about South Africa, but nothing I do will truly prepare me for the first time I step on Cape Town soil.