Sometimes it is Okay to Be a No Person While Abroad

Chloe Diggs University of the Western Cape, South Africa


August 16, 2017

Euphoria. Cheesy grins and gyrating hips greeted me at the District’s hip-hop night on my first weekend in Cape Town. My senses were flooded when I was approached by kind, probably tipsy, strangers, blaring music with base-filled beats and assorted levels of light. 50Rands poorer, I migrated to the front of the crowd so that I would have a better sense of where I was spatially in the establishment. I was in my zone! Stepping to the beat, swaying my top and bottom half in different directions, really getting down. There was a point in time where I danced with a stranger and felt the electricity that comes about when I somewhat “perform” in front of a crowd. Exhilarating!

Nausea. After I bid farewell to my impromptu dance partner, I was reminded by my body what it felt like to be dehydrated. The fact remains that I did not properly hydrate before I left Penrose and it was too late to turn around what my body was already doing.

Fear. Being in a new place and being surrounded by new faces was suddenly a lot less exciting. It occurred to me that I was nowhere near Georgetown or my dorm room. The District wasn’t the name of club hosted in McShaine Large next to the Leo’s dining hall. The District was a nightclub in a city foreign to me. While so many people feel at home immediately in this city, it has not become that for me. Not yet.

Breakdown. I don’t know when the tears began to roll, but boyyy were they rolling! I did my best to mask them, but for some reason, I felt extremely emotional and could not handle the gravity of my surroundings. If it had not been for the two compassionate, caring (all those wonderful adjectives) young women that are my housemates, I do not know how the night would have ended. They rubbed my back and made sure that I had water to drink. Slowly I began to feel less vulnerable and more cared for.

Comfort. Once we finally arrived at Penrose, I more or less had myself back together. I was able to negotiate the shifty, red light-running taxi driver into a lower, still unfair, price. I was able to make it up the stairs to my room. I was able to carry out my skin care regimen and tie my hair with my satin scarf. I even laughed a ton. Something about the house calmed me. It was the number and quality of the people I surrounded myself with. It was also the familiarity of the people I have come to call “fam” in such a short amount of time.

I woke up on that Sunday morning feeling well-rested and a little worried. I thought my housemates would look down on me for being so emotionally confused. I thought something was wrong with me for wanting to go out but coming home early. Two meditations later, I woke up again to realize I was at no fault.

Saying no to an evening out or heading home early is nothing to be ashamed of. The party culture surrounding American coeds in new countries is real. Don’t let it pressure you into not doing what is best for you and your body. Similarly, do not feel forced to climb every mountain right away. Say yes when the feeling is right. Mentally, physically, or spiritually, your body will let you know when it does not agree with your plans.

I am not sure where I heard this, but if you don’t take care of your body…where will you live?


Semester South Africa