By Shannon Conboy
If there is one thing I could recommend that you absolutely must do in your four years here at SMU, it is to study abroad. This summer, I had the opportunity to be able to spend the month of June in South Africa with a group of eleven awesome SMU students, and I can easily say it has been one of my most rewarding experiences so far.
Not only was I learning all about the rich history and culture of South Africa from the SMU Professor on the trip, but I was also completely submerged in it. The local students I was surrounded with could verify what I was learning about their culture and history and it was incredible to be able to talk to them about their experiences and to hear their stories. On the last day of our SMU course, our Professor even invited the South African students to come join in our class, and there was quite some interesting discussions having all these different perspectives present to share.
This program was ideal for me as a vocal major, because it offered the chance to perform the musical South Pacific right there in the country, allowing for collaboration between the students from
SMU and the students of the University of KwaZulu- Natal. Aside from exploring the country, going on a safari, and even visiting a wonder of the world in Cape Town, I spent a great deal of time in a South African opera school, giving me a once in a lifetime opportunity and different perspective on a world in which I am pursuing a career.
While the experience of the land and culture as a whole is one I will never be able to forget, I must say that even more valuable to me are the relationships I formed with the students there as well as with my fellow SMU colleagues. I left inspired by the people I met and with a newfound love for music and all it means. I became close with the SMU students I shared the experience with and now, being back to school for the first week, I love seeing all of them as I walk around campus. In fact, we’re already planning a reunion so that we can remember and reminisce on the great experience we shared this summer through the SMU study abroad program.