Since I came back from my language stay in Cape Town, lots of friends have asked me, “Hey, Andrea! So why should we go all the way to South Africa to visit Cape Town?” Well, the answer isn’t easy, but at least I know where to start:
Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
That’s the idea I had before going on a language stay in Cape Town, and now, after a whole week at home, I can say that it was the right one. This trip permanently changed my idea of living, and after all these days at home, I finally understood that what happened in South Africa will be reflected in my future life, in the small things but also in the important choices I’ll make.
You should go to Cape Town to re-evaluate the importance you give to things, from the most to the least materialistic ones, such as emotions, and to understand how much of a difference this can make.
Since I came back, I’ve been thinking about one thing in particular: the Townships kids I had the chance to teach. I remember how amazing it was to see their strength and curiosity for the world! Having the opportunity to teach them everything I know about whales and marine biology was great, but that was very little if you compare it to what they taught me. Even though they live in a difficult environment, they have such a strong inner energy, which shines through their eyes. Being able to experience the love they showed me is really something we can all learn from – something that many people can’t do anymore.
In the end, this is what South Africa gives you. You go there to learn a language, and you come back rehabilitated to life! You learn to approach people in a new way, as they are all so far from your culture, and you learn to welcome them with a smile, as they give you an opportunity to grow that you can’t pass up.
You learn to approach nature and to respect it even more. You can see with your own eyes the challenges that our planet is facing, but that we don’t really care about on our side of the world. Since the first day of my language stay in Cape Town, for example, one of the things that struck me the most was the constant water saving topic; some people are fighting every day for that, while we don’t do much about it in our daily life.
South Africa is the perfect place if you’re looking for real change and growth. I met lots of travellers from all over the world, who went to South Africa for a language stay, like me, and what they had in common was the awareness of what that land was giving them, of how that land was conquering their hearts while taking them to places where they would have never thought they could go.
A guy from California who was travelling alone for the first time, a guy from Israel who was supposed to cross South Africa in a month and then stayed for 3, a Brazilian girl who decided to live far from home for 3 months in order to study the language and the territory, and so on… all of them were out of their comfort zone, where every single step is new and every road is an adventure! All of them were transformed by this new African atmosphere and culture.
Once you try all this, you can’t give it up. I’m sure I’ll go back to that side of the world, because I won’t be able to get it out of my mind! I may not be in South Africa anymore, but it will be a part of me forever – this is what my language stay in Cape Town gave me.