Name: Vanja Pejic
Program: Arcadia University; Univ. of Cape Town
Where: Cape Town, South Africa
When: Spring 2009
Best Excursion: Safari in Etosha National Park/Hike through the Sossusvlei Desert in Namibia
Favorite Dish: Boerewors with chakalaka and mielie pop.
Next Destination: Latin America
How has this experience changed you?
It is hard to put into words the impact South Africa has had on me. This experience was a dream come true and it has made me grow as a person in more ways than I could have possibly imagined. Meeting, sharing and embracing South Africa with other international students as well as Africans allowed me to not only learn from them, but I have made lifelong friends. Embracing the South African culture, history and people has allowed me to not only gain appreciation for the struggled facing this brave national, but it made me reflect on my own life and all the things we as members of first world country take for granted. South Africa pushed me to reach beyond my comfort zone and explore and learn in placed I never thought possible. I am so grateful for all that South Africa and its people gave and continue to give to me.
Who will you remember most from your study abroad experience and why?
South Africa, locals, other international students, and my incredible roommates all contributed to my experience abroad. However there is one group of individuals that only had an effect on me but are the reason why I chose to study in South Africa and the reason why my experience abroad was so meaningful. Those are the hundreds of inspiring children that I met working in schools, orphanages, townships and walking down the streets of Cape Town and the villages of Lesotho. Their strength, enthusiasm and appreciation for life and ability to beat the odds, made me a better person. I will never forget them.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
While you may feel apprehensive, excited, scared, curious, nervous, all at the same time as you begin this life changing experience, remember that this is completely normal. For most people that study abroad, you will share these feelings with hundreds of other international students who will be experiencing this adventure along with you. So try to put those worries aside and embrace the country’s history, culture and people as much as you possibly can. Go to as many shows, lectures and city events. While your experience abroad may seem very long, it will FLY, so make a list of all the things you would like to do while abroad, post it on your fridge and start crossing off as the adventure begins!