By Sarah Woodruff
Last summer (2013) I decided to do something out of my comfort zone and out of the United States. I went and studied in Bali, Indonesia for three weeks with 12 other students. I had an experience of a lifetime and ended up catching the travel bug, which ended in me to wanting to study abroad again. So this summer (2014) I studied abroad again, but this time in South Africa. I received 6 credit hours in just four weeks while having the time of my life.
The trip started out with two 12-hour flights, a 12-hour layover in London, and at least 6 movies; however, once we reached Durban, South Africa the only thing on my mind was to get out and explore. We spent the first three weeks of the trip exploring Durban, going on a Safari, and meeting friends…all of course while still studying for class. ☺ One of the classes was a musical theatre course. We spent three weeks in SA working with world-renowned director and dancer, Roger Riggle, and SMU professor Barbara Hill-Moore, to join forces with the students from the University of Kwazulu-Natal to produce CAROUSEL. It was really neat to have both students from SMU and students from UKZN joining together to produce a musical. In addition to the musical theatre course, all of the SMU students also took a Women & Minorities in the media course with Professor Karen Thomas. It was really neat to compare how different minorities are portrayed in the media in the US versus in South Africa. We also had a day where we studied Beyoncé and feminism, which was really neat because a lot of the UKZN students were fascinated with Beyoncé. I was even able to pick up on a few important phrases in Xhosa and Afrikaans from the UKZN students!
Some major highlights from our first few weeks in Durban:
- Coming within a few feet of at least 15 elephants
- Losing hope that I wouldn’t see a zebra on the safari and then turning a corner and seeing 5 cross the road in front of our jeep
- Having a monkey trying and take my banana at lunch
- Riding to the top of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium
After three weeks of studying and working hard, while still having a ton of fun and going on a Safari, we flew to Cape Town for a week of relaxation. In Cape Town we got to do normal touristy things like learn about Nelson Mandela, visit District Six and Robben Island, and ride to the top of Table Mountain. Our four short weeks came to a close and we spent another 36 hours of flying back to the USA, but it was all worth it. I will always have the wonderful memories and friends that I made in SA and am really looking forward to the day that I can go back and visit!