This has been quite the year. From participating in a civil rights briefing, accepting a medical school offer, and graduating from the University of Texas at Austin - I can confidently say that 2016 has been filled to the brim with blessings and joys. To add even more sweetness to my life, I wrote half of this post from the comfort in my bed in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm resisting the urge to post every new moment online, but I didn't want to leave this experience without some documentation. So in my grand and never regularly scheduled tradition of blog posts, I present my golden moments from my trip!
+ Bo - Kaap and De Waterkant
+ Boulder's Beach
+ Cape of Good Hope
+ Cape Peninsula
+ Company's Garden
+ Constantia Wine Route
+ Langa Township
+ Lion's Head
+ Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock
+ Robben Island
+ Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
+ University of Cape Town
+ Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
+ The V&A Waterfront is an upscale shopping and dining area with a few major attractions. It is also home to a tavern with the best 2L of sangria (which I finished with little help from my friends).
+ I had a decent amount of beef which is unusual because I'm a fish and chicken girl. But I had some of the best gourmet burgers for such a good price that makes Hopdoddy's look like a glorified fast food joint.
+ I'm not wildly adventurous with my food, but I tried crocodile and new seafood at Mama Africa. If you go, get the chicken curry and thank me with a take away box.
+ Mzoli's is home to some of the best braai (bbq) around. Meat on meat on veggies on more meat. The original plan was to go on Sunday for their famous Sunday and Chill, but who could resist going on a class trip with free food on a Friday?
+ Okay - so food courts aren't home to the best meals, but y'all. When I can pay less than 4 USD for a filling lunch, I'm happy.
+ Cape Town's multicultural background is reflected in the food scene. Our hotel was nestled between coffee shops, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Italian, American restaurants, each with a unique flavor. Also, I'm a fan of coffee shops that also serve wine and full meals.
+ After watching three wine documentaries on Netflix, I like to consider myself a certified wine fan. South Africa is home to famous wine and gorgeous vineyards so we took a girls trip to Constantia Winelands. Went to dinner at Knead and capped off the evening with more wine.
+ We took a South Peninsula Tour and visited the most western southern part of Africa, got the best views and saw a few penguins. This is where we knocked out at least four different tourist stops.
+ I'm not an outdoorsy person; I'm more of a - catch a few reruns of A Different World and browse the internet on my couch - person. But I'm so happy I hiked Lion's Head (twice)! Funny / thank the Lord story time: We did plan to hike Table Mountain. We got out of a cab (more like a mini bus that the study abroad program said not to use but YOLO, right?) and arrived at the foot of some trail. Walk a few minutes and run into a guy who agrees to take us to the start of the Table Mountain trail. Then we run into another guy who tells us that it is another 45 minutes to reach the trail and that the actual hike won't be worth the trouble because it was cloudy day. It isn't just that cloudy days mean low vision, but that you could easily lose your sense of direction, lose your footing or lose your life. Therefore we hiked Lion's Head again.
+ Old Biscuit Mill. If you go to Cape Town, this location needs to top your to-do list. Imagine a farmer's market meets global cuisine and shopping. It is precious and the perfect spot for brunch.
+ When in Africa, go on a safari - right? Talk about the most memorable part of my trip, most of which I won't ever retell. Let's just thank the Lord that everyone from my program is safe and sound.
+ Study Abroad. As a graduating senior, I didn't think it was possible for me to fit in study abroad. It wasn't like I hadn't travelled outside the United States before and the courses offered didn't fit with my degree plan. If anything, studying abroad was an unchecked bucket list item (like visiting the Ransom Center or taking a Tower Tour). But with a little help from my friends, I filled out the application and landed in Cape Town days after my graduation. Wherever you are in your college career, I encourage you to just explore the possibility of studying somewhere across the world.
+ Resourcefulness is key. My program required that every student participate in a service learning placement. I spent four weeks at the Retreat Day Hospital shadowing doctors and nurses in the Trauma Unit. Much like my experiences shadowing in rural Nigeria, I was reminded that resourcefulness is how you deal with disparities. Don't have a tourniquet? Use a pair of gloves. Trauma unit only has one examination space? Use a bed as your table.
+ Take an L and charge it to the game. My phone got stolen two days before my flight home - and I was a mess. But I learned a few things about myself including: a. nothing is ever so serious that you can't move on with life b. the desire to be perfect is overrated c. surrounding yourself with people willing to take photos for you is crucial.
+ Student protests are a beautiful thing. I attended the 50th anniversary event of Robert Kennedy's 'Ripple of Hope' speech at the University of Cape Town. Less than seven minutes into Rep. John Lewis' speech, a group of student protesters enter the building with signs reading 'UCT celebrates white icons' and 'stop US imperialism.' This had to be one of the most interesting parts of my trip. Civil Rights icon - Rep. John Lewis keeps on going as students line in front of his podium. These students stay until the last speaker and then are given space to address the crowd about their concerns. I immediately think back to the student protests at the Vietnam Summit held on UT campus. Both UCT and UT have had active protests to remove damaging iconography (cc: Rhodes and Davis statues) and both have seen tangible results. In class, we heard from a student protester who was expelled for his work and thoughts. It is encouraging to know that there will always be a group of students willing to put their formal education and bodies on the line to push notions of equality forward.
+ Say yes. Okay - weird last lesson from the girl who needs to learn how to say no. But when faced with watching another movie or hike a mountain - say yes to a new adventure. Say yes to jumping out of a plane or yes to more wine. Yes to new foods and yes to new friendships. Say yes to spending your time with intention.