Archive 2008 - 2019

Semester in Cape Town: Part 8

by Bella Tobin

Today is a big day, and the reasons are fourfold.

IOL pic mar20 scales justice gavel

First off it's Human Rights  Day in South Africa which is in honor of those who fought for a just and democratic society. It’s a bigger holiday than I expected. There are no classes and  the public buildings and banks are closed. The second and third reasons are that it is my half birthday, and that today marks the two month anniversary of my coming to Cape Town. Finally, this morning I got an e-mail from the U.S. Bureau of Education saying I was chosen to be a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship. This scholarship is for students studying abroad who demonstrate academic merit, financial need, and promise to do a project within their community relative to their experience. I applied for the scholarship last fall and was put on the wait-list, and in January I was told that the wait period was over and I would not be receiving the award. I’m not  sure what happened in between January and now, but I’m so grateful for whatever transpired.

The idea for a blog began with the application for the scholarship. The project I had promised to do was to write about my experience, including the cultural differences and challenges I face along with my day to day activities. I will be writing an article summarizing my experience abroad and discussing the culture, politics, hardships, and lifestyle in South Africa, specifically Cape Town. This article will be featured in the HollistonReporter, and will be sent in to other local newspapers. The goal is to increase international education and encourage students to study abroad, and inform people of what it is like in South Africa.

When I was choosing this program I got countless warnings about how dangerous, unwelcoming, and poverty-stricken the country was along with a million other reasons not to study here. Although it's somewhat true, there is much more to South Africa and I hope to open people's mind and broaden their knowledge of the country and culture.

This is most incredible place I have ever been and I am more amazed everyday. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.