I fell in love with South Africa during my internship in 2012.
The animals are free, the views are magnificent & the people are beautiful. I didn’t want to leave in 2012, but had to as I had two more years of college to finish. I graduated in December 2014 and I hopped on a plane to South Africa January 2015.
3 years I lived abroad and quickly learned vacationing in South Africa is different to living in South Africa.
I had hopes to make a difference, helping where I can. However, South Africa would not grant me a work visa. So I started to look for volunteer opportunities. Unfortunately, non profits and such are not ran like they are in USA, that I found.I volunteered at the only children’s hospital in South Africa for a while. However, there was so many volunteers from all over the world and they didn’t seem to care about who helped and who didn’t. A lot of the time was just walking around the hospital waiting for the doctors to get out so you can read or play with a child. I eventually left without notifying them and never got a call regarding why I didn’t show up. It was too busy and too unorganized.I then got an opportunity to be a play therapist for a non-profit. I went for an hour long interview and made clear I do not speak Afrikaans. I was so excited. The excitement ended fast when I was paired with children who only understand Afrikaans. How was I suppose to help them? These children were spilling out their hearts to me and all I could say was “okay.”
A year after calling and emailing and visiting places, I started to feel useless. I had a social work degree, I had experience with hospice, started my own non-profit in America and yet I was useless in a country that needed help. I started to get depressed, but luckily I was in a position where I didn’t need to bring in any income. A year after trying, I decided let me enjoy the beauty of South Africa without a job or internship. And I thank God everyday for allowing me to do that.
The pups and I lived a spoiled life. But I developed anxiety.
In South Africa crime is inevitable. I didn’t like driving as I heard stories of hijackings & smash and grabs.
Most homes in South Africa have alarm system, burglar bars, electric fences and high walls. I’m not used to that and just going to friends houses I would feel not at ease. I felt like I was in jail. Luckily, we lived on a high security estate so we didn’t need any of these precautions.
I realized normally I am an independent, go-anywhere type of person but in South Africa I wasn’t.
I was slowly becoming unhappy and decided it’s time to move back.
I planned to live in South Africa for 5 years, but I only made it to three.
By living abroad I challenged myself in more ways than one everyday. I have become a stronger person and an even more grateful person.
South Africa is beautiful. I will be continuing to visit there and will forever have love for the country.