My last blog post was about how studying abroad is scary, and I still stand by that statement. However, I have stayed true to my word and have really tried to lean into experiences that make me nervous and uncomfortable. One surefire way to force myself into these situations is that I agree to an activity before I have the chance to think too hard about it. Then, by the time I’m in the car on the way to the excursion, it’s too late to back out. And that’s how I came up with this list. Here are three things that I have done in Cape Town that I tricked myself into doing.
- Hiked Lion’s Head Mountain
When a TA told us that we were going to hike Lion’s Head Mountain, a popular spot here in Cape Town, we all thought that we were just going to walk up an incline for 45 minutes and end up at the top of a hill. Imagine our surprise when halfway through the hike the path disappears and we’re left to actually climb up a mountain; no path, no barrier, just some chains and some rocks. The only reason I did not turn around and go back is because we had already made it so far. The climb was more difficult than expected, but it was so rewarding because 1) I got to see an amazing view of the city, and 2) I was able to share in the experience with some of my classmates, as we all accomplished this goal together.
2. Gone ATVing in Sand Dunes
By the time that I realized that I was nervous about ATVing, I was already in the van on the way there. Then before I knew it, I was on a four-wheeler at the top of a sand dune with very little training and no protection besides a helmet and goggles. However, that nervousness quickly disappeared, and I ended up having the time of my life. This experience is a textbook example of the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone: I would have missed out on an incredibly good time and an amazing experience if I had let my fear keep me from this.
3. Participated in hostel activities
I know this one seems small in comparison to my previous two examples, but it is really important to me. A personal goal that I made for this trip was that I wanted to talk to people outside of my small circle of friends; what I did not anticipate, was interacting with people outside of the UT students who are also doing this program. We are staying at a hostel called Once in Cape Town that is run primarily by volunteers (other young adults taking gap years, exploring, trying to learn English, etc.). The hostel hosts daily activities where you can meet and mingle with the volunteers and other guests such as movie nights, no power hour (where phones are banned for one hour), and braai (basically a barbecue where you bring your own meat). It is at these activities that I have genuinely had some of the most fun. I have started becoming friends with the volunteers, and they have had great insights on things to do and places to check out in the city. Speaking with them has made me feel more integrated in Cape Town culture. I’m thankful for the opportunity to step out of the inner circle of UT students and feel like I’m truly interacting with the city and the people of Cape Town, and I’m excited to become more comfortable and to continue this amazing adventure.
This post was contributed by LeAnne Maduka, a 2019 Global Ambassador majoring in biology studying abroad on the Urban and Economic Development Maymester program in Cape Town, South Africa.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about LeAnne’s experience abroad>>