endings are hard but beginnings are beautiful.

endings are hard but beginnings are beautiful.

A lot of the lessons we learn in life are obvious ones. They are reminders of simple principles, echoed in sentiments we’ve read before. There is no novelty in the words “with every ending comes a new beginning,” because they have been unfortunately and permanently damned into the world of clichés. Instead, the novelty is in how we arrive at these words. It is the promising beginnings, the uncertain middles, and the nearly heartbreaking endings that remind us of lessons we swore we learned already. It isn’t until we are carrying out our own unique stories do we truly appreciate the inevitability of painful endings dissolving into beautiful beginnings. Even though I can write these words so eloquently, I’m having trouble accepting them in the same fashion. The days in November climb higher and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to face the remainder of my time here with a positive attitude.

The most popular topic of conversation in Penrose right now, other than updating each other on the all consuming traumas and victories of our social lives, is how quickly everything is passing by and how soon we will be returning home. I’m in denial every time someone brings it up, often wanting to shove my fingers in my ears like a child and yell “I’m not listening” until the harsh pains of reality are numbed into a manageable murmur. Yes, I’m being very dramatic about leaving because yes, I am very dramatic about endings. Continue reading “endings are hard but beginnings are beautiful.”

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on my own

on my own

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” – David Mitchell


In some ways, I expected studying abroad to change me automatically. Any prospects of hard work would be bypassed and a better adjusted human would be deposited at the JFK airport come November. The experience on its own seemed like it would be enough of a catalyst for change. During the first half of this semester, I spent a lot of time changing how I see the world, inviting it into my life as a playground for exploration and an endless well of opportunities. I saw many incredible sights, met the most carefree of friends, and discovered a new direction for not only my future career but also my personal lifestyle. All good things.

However, I was looking outward this whole time hoping that I would find something in South Africa that could sustain my happiness and the initial euphoria of this semester in perpetuity. For the last two months, the thought of leaving Cape Town behind scared me because I didn’t think I would ever find what I was feeling ever again. Every spare moment we crammed with activities, in hopes that the feelings of freedom and exhilaration would continue. When they didn’t, it was as if the whole of Cape Town had let me down. I took it personally.

When it was announced that classes were suspended due to student protests, I didn’t expect to spend 2 weeks lying low (read: sleeping) and thinking in near constant rotation. I figured I’d be out on adventures, finding pieces of my soul scattered all over Africa because that’s apparently what you do when you travel. Instead of picking up the pieces, I took a break to see that I was never broken to begin with. Continue reading “on my own”

to feel at home

to feel at home

There are days when I never want to leave South Africa. 

It occurs to me each time I stare wistfully out the car window at passing scenery that my time in this city is limited. In just a few short months my life in Cape Town will slowly slip away into the blurry folds of my memory, along with my new favorite South African snacks that are not made available in the United States. Some of the lingo I’ve picked up in the last few weeks I plan to carry over as a memory, understood only by those who have lived in Cape Town. With each passing day, my fear of never making it home transitions into one of going home too soon. To put it in the most cliche of ways, I’ve fallen madly in love with the city of Cape Town. Continue reading “to feel at home”

Why South Africa?

Why South Africa?

I never thought I would learn half of what I have in the three weeks since I landed in South Africa. Every experience, every encounter has led me to points of clarity about humanity and social struggle. I guess I should have expected it, coming to a country with such a painful history of colonialism and racial injustice. But I didn’t. I came here thinking, “all of my friends go to Europe and I want to go on a safari.”

I realize now, looking back on who I was almost three weeks ago, that my thinking was shortsighted and poorly informed. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know much about apartheid or Nelson Mandela (or really South Africa in general) prior to coming here. My experience with this country was limited to Candice Swanepoel and Candice Pool, both lovely ladies who have inspired me in countless ways but who could have never prepared me for the South Africa I have encountered. Even the pages of my guidebook had fallen short on filling in all the blanks, as there were (and still are) many. Continue reading “Why South Africa?”