After being home from South Africa for about three weeks now, I want nothing more than to go back. I have had the privilege of traveling to many different foreign countries throughout the years, but none have ever been as fun, life changing, beneficial and challenging as the two weeks that I spent in South Africa. I say fun because there wasn’t a minute during the whole trip that I didn’t enjoy, whether it was the Stormers rugby game, the top of Table Mountain, the building of the children’s school with SASDI or just simply walking around the waterfront of downtown Cape Town and exploring all the things that the city had to offer. I’m originally from the outskirts of Chicago so being downtown in a big city almost feels like home to me. South Africa was life changing in the sense that I experienced things I would never have the chance to experience in the U.S. I was thrown into a culture that has eleven different national languages, the people are just now starting to get full access to things life wifi that we have grown accustomed to being free everywhere we go in the states. Speaking of wifi, I found it amazing that most everywhere you went in South Africa you had to pay for Internet access. When the states first got wifi you had to pay for it, but nowadays everywhere you go has free internet access because without free internet people will go somewhere they can get it free of charge. Speaking of paying for internet access, I got the phone bill the other day and needless to say, I wasn’t too happy with my $150 in charges that I had racked up while I was over there. Oops!
All of the speakers that we had the opportunity to listen to and interact with were greatly beneficial. They’re grasp on business and the history of South Africa taught us more than we could ever hope to see in a movie or read in a book. I’m the type of person that much rather interact with someone in person or over the phone rather than reading a text or a book or receiving the news second hand. Being a rather large man, South Africa was challenging because the cars weren’t exactly the gas-guzzlers that we have here in the U.S. It was quite funny seeing some of the looks I got from people because of my 6’4” 290 lb frame. If you think the legroom in a taxi is hard to find for a 6ft+ guy, then you haven’t been on an international flight before. In the 30 hours of flying each way to get to South Africa you would think that would be at least one plane that had a bit of leg room, but you would be sadly mistaken. Every flight was filled with the seat in front of me stuck against my knees. When I did happen to get the isle seats on the longer flights, I ended up sacrificing a foot to the food and beverage cards on more than one occasion.
In the end, I will never forget those two amazing weeks spent half way around the world and the awesome people we had the pleasure of meeting. There’s something about the culture of South Africa and even all of Africa that is almost mesmerizing when you get to see it first hand. The people are a lot like us but at the same time they are very different. Like southern hospitality goes, the people of South Africa are some of the nicest people that I have met. My obsession with getting back to the wonderful country has gotten so bad that every time my parents bring up going on a family vacation I can’t help but to mention that they would love South Africa and I wouldn’t mind going back either. Eventually they are going to give in and either make the trip with me or just put me on a plane and send me by myself. Either way, I wouldn’t mind either outcome one bit!