By Megan Palumbo – International Correspondent
When I decided I was studying abroad in South Africa I got questions like, “Why did you choose this random country?” “Why wouldn’t you go to Italy?” “Don’t you think it’s unsafe to go to South Africa because you’re a girl?” “Are you going to come back with Ebola?”. I felt like each question got more and more ridiculous, but regardless I received so much support and love before I embarked on this crazy adventure.
I wanted to study abroad in a place that I could get the most out of my experience there—South Africa seemed perfect. While being culturally unique and full of history and beauty, this country has left its mark on my heart forever. Previously there had only been a handful of students from Lasell that have studied abroad in South Africa—and now I’m one of them.
My study abroad experience has been the most amazing thing I’ve done in my life. To pack up for four and a half months and travel nearly 7,000 miles across the globe by myself was not easy. However, this trip has opened my eyes to new experiences, places and people—things I can’t imagine having back home.
Going to Lasell for the past two years, where everyone knows your name (and it’s impossible to go anywhere without chatting to someone in passing) has been great. I often credit Lasell for why I’m so personable and enjoy meeting new people. Since being here I’ve met people from all over Europe, the United States, and different parts of southern Africa.
I hiked for 10 hours straight up the highest peak in the Stellenbosch area, as well as many nature reserve trails, and coastal hikes along the Eastern Cape. I’ve jumped off the world’s highest bungee jumping bridge, 708 feet high, without even hesitating. I got to feed elephants, and see monkeys hang on branches just inches above my head. I’ve indulged in wine tastings, and homemade goods at local markets, listening to live music and rhythmic drum circles in the forest. I’ve done all these amazing things in the past few months, but the biggest thing I’ve done here is find myself. Being here on my own has allowed me to grow in ways that will follow me into the future, and for that my gratitude is endless.