You're Going to Africa?

Tatiana Redden University of Cape Town, South Africa


July 21, 2015

"What would you guys think about going to South Africa for a semester?" I asked my two suitemates as we laid in bed during our hour break from class. I had just came from one of Arcadia's study aboard sessions. In the session, I learned so many things. I had the chance to learn about the different places I would be able to travel, the cost, what to expect, the cultural differences, and I even had a chance to see what places other Arcadia students were going to or had gone to.

I knew I wanted somewhere warm (even though it is currently winter in South Africa) and something different from all the Western and American cultures. However, the main reason was because as a Sociology major I was able to take a variety of classes on Black and African history and culture. Such as, African American Images in the Media, Inequality, and Intro Africana Studies. I loved my classes. Learning more about my culture, the world’s history, and understanding how structures and systems were created. My minor will be in Pan African studies, so what better way to learn about Africa than going?

My suitemates looked at me, "Africa?" I started hopping around the room, bragging on how inexpensive it was, and how it would be something awesome to experience, and how it would be great for us to go as a group. I was literally selling South Africa to them… and myself. I had only known what I read in books, what professors taught me, and what my family members thought. I was a bit nervous to choose such a "risky" place. But then I began to think it is only risky because not many have gone and because of the ignorant judgements placed upon it. I explained to my suitemates, "not many students get to travel abroad during their college experience, so why not pick the place that not many choose? Let’s try this place and when we get back let’s show our families and friends that South Africa is not what they think."

My suitemates sat on my bed listening to my Obama speech. A few days later we came together and started planning. "How can we get enough money? Where will we stay? Will our classes be approved? What are our deadlines?"

South Africa was different for me, even now, I cannot believe I am actually here.