South Africa: The Countdown

Elise Kambou is a student at Towson University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Durban, South Africa.

As my trip begins to draw to a close, I find myself looking at my experience in South Africa from a different perspective. Instead of enjoying the time I have left or appreciating the moments with the people I have come to love, I already find myself feeling reminiscent. The emotions I have been dealing with these past few weeks run deeper than sentimentality and nostalgia. In fact, my feelings cannot even be translated into the English language. Fortunately, the Portuguese word saudade perfectly describes the feeling of absence and longing I have already cultivated for South Africa… Well, at least almost.

Kayla, Courtney and I on a 24 hour bus ride from Cape Town to Durban. We spent a week in Cape Town for our spring break!
Kayla, Courtney and I on a 24 hour bus ride from Cape Town to Durban. We spent a week in Cape Town for our spring break!

When I left for South Africa in July, I did not anticipate that the other people in my program would become my best friends.

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I did not plan on attending school and meeting people I could not go a day without speaking to. I did not envision myself dating or getting my heart broken.

Panoramic view of my school, Howard College at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
Panoramic view of my school, Howard College at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

I did not prepare myself for falling in love with Durban, a city I have become accustomed to calling home. When I left for South Africa in July, I cried going through airport security because I thought for a second that I was not capable of living outside of the U.S. on my own. Now the idea of returning to the United States is strange to me. How do you describe what it’s like to leave your comfort zone, and start over alone in a foreign country only to say goodbye? It is true what the say, studying abroad is extremely worthwhile. However, it is also a heart breaking experience.

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Still, I cannot wait to be reunited with my friends and family and return to my home university. I am looking forward to the gifts and stories that I have been anxiously awaiting to exchange. I know it’ll only help me keep the memory of South Africa alive. I don’t know where I am going to go from here, adventure awaits! But I do hope that one day the decisions I make bring me back to South Africa once again.

I think the hardest part of leaving South Africa will by saying goodbye to these girls. They have held my hand through the best and worst of times.
I think the hardest part of leaving South Africa will by saying goodbye to these girls. They have held my hand through the best and worst of times.

I shall cherish my trip abroad always.

Want to read more about Durban? Check out “6 Reasons You Should Study Abroad in Durban, South Africa”

Author: eliseyeri

I am a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in the Kingdom of Morocco. I graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a minor in Anthropology. I've been a world traveler since birth, and have been fortunate to call many places home. Follow me on my journey as I enjoy the sun, sand and couscous.