This maymester trip to Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most memorable and impactful experiences of my life. This was the first time I have ever gone out of the country and I was not sure what to expect. I was a little nervous going over there but once I was there I fell in love with this amazing place. Cape Town is the best of both worlds to me; you have the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. I had never seen a place that is as beautiful as Cape Town. You can not forget about the people either, everyone that we came into contact with was so nice and didn’t mind answering any of the questions we had. As I left for this trip I left with something that my dad told me, he said “there is more out there than just South Carolina.” I took that with me ready to see what South Africa had to offer.
This trip to Cape Town has changed my worldview in many ways. The one way it has is that it has made me very thankful for the freedom that we have in the United States. We take for granted the things that we can do in this country. Another thing that struck me was that their police do not have as much control as ours do. The first time that I remember thinking about it was the morning after Ashton and everyone else got mugged. She told me how the police just told them to leave because they would never get their stuff back. I was shocked that they did not do anything to help them get anything back. I don’t know if they knew that they had no chance of getting it back because it happens so often or if they just had no control over it. I thought about what our police would have done and I definitely noticed the difference in the way that it would have been handled.
Another way that my worldview has been changed is that I am much more aware and interested in what is going on around the world. While we were in South Africa we watched a lot of news on TV. That was one way we could keep up with what was going on at home and also in other countries. I think going to another country makes you more aware of what is going on around the world because you finally see first hand that America is not the only place with problems. It is also interesting to learn about how they handle certain situations differently from America. At school I have no idea what is going on sometimes because I never look at the news. Since I have been back I watch the news almost every day and am interested in knowing what is going on in the world, especially in South Africa. I have been watching the news a lot in the last week or so with Nelson Mandela being in the hospital. I also check about everyday to see if anything is in the news about South Africa. I am very interested in what is going on there because they are doing a lot of great things in that country. I would like to continue to keep up with what is going on in that country because I now know more of their history about what has gone on in the past. South Africa has come a long way since apartheid and I am very interested to see where they are going in the future. I will definitely keep up with it and would love to go back some day and see how it improves or changes.
Another experience that struck me while I was in Cape Town was when we were at Philipi Children’s Center and I noticed a little boy who was missing a leg (pictured on the left) Of course this interested me because I want to be a physical therapist and this was something that I had seen before but wasn’t sure how they handled it in South Africa. The teacher saw me talking to the little boy and she told me that he has a prosthetic leg but that he takes it off sometimes. She said that he was able to go to the hospital and get the leg but that sometimes it rubs him or hurts his leg so he has to take it off. It amazed me that this little boy, who is probably no older than 3, was able to walk and do anything without his leg; she said he could even climb the monkey bars without it. Also, I was very thankful that he had the opportunity to get a prosthetic leg and learn to walk with it because I am sure he was not able to or had little help from a physical therapist to learn how to use it. It is amazing that even in those poorer conditions he was able to have some kind of life with his prosthetic. I know that he had some problems with it but he is able to go back to the hospital to get it sized again when he needs to. This was probably one of the most memorable experiences for me because not only did I get to see someone who was struggling with a physical disability I was also able to talk to his teacher about how they deal with his situation and about his prosthetic leg. This experience also showed me that after I get my degree I do not have to just stay in the US; I could go anywhere in the world and help others with the same kind of circumstances.
This trip to Cape Town has impacted my life in so many ways and will continue to for the rest of my life. I always wanted to go out of the country I just never knew if I would have the chance or how it would be. I can definitely say going to South Africa was one of the best experiences of my life that I will never forget. I was able to travel with an awesome group of people and learn about a new culture and all that they have to offer. We have been back for about 3 weeks now and I would do anything to go back to South Africa right now. I know that I want to travel more in my life but I think I will have to go back to South Africa because it has a special place in my heart now. I could not have asked for a better place to travel to for my first trip out of the country.