After traveling for an exhausting thirty hours we finally made it to Johannesberg, South Africa. The first flight that we had from the Grand Rapids airport was delayed because of the fog in Chicago but we made it there a couple of hours later. Luckily, we had enough of a layover built in that we made our flight from Chicago to Washington D.C. At the D.C. airport I attempted to mentally prepare myself for the next 17 hours of airtime. After eating dinner, I stretched out my limbs while I still had the chance.
The first leg of the flight was pretty uneventful. We were served dinner, which had delicious cheesecake, might I add. I was pleasantly suprised with the variety of movies, music, and tv show options that there were on the personal screen infront of me. After watching a movie, I attempted to fall asleep. I was unsuccessful and I spent the rest of flight tossing and turning. After landing in Sengal for the refueling of the airplane, we were off to Johannesberg. Thankfully, I was able to sleep for the majority of the flight, in between the plentiful meals that were offered during flight.
Once we reached Johannesberg and went through the customs process, it was time to exchange our money. I thought this process would be fairly easy but it was more stressful than I had imagined. The exchange rate was hard to think through and I wasn’t sure how much money I should exchange right away. This was definitely a bonding experience because many of us students were slighty confused so we were looking to each other for guidance.
After exchanging our money, we were off to the tour bus to take us to our hotel. I was not expecting such a fancy bus or hotel for that matter. Our tour guides are super friendly and encouraged us to call them Tata which means “uncle” in Zulu. Our Tatas shared with us so much of their knowledge about South Africa. I could tell the Tata Bruce was very passionate about the history and relevance of the South African history. By that point, I was so exhausted and ready for bed but it was time for dinner.
For dinner, we went to a nice steakhouse in Nelson Mandela Square. The Square as well as the restaraunt were beautiful. We were fed a delicious three course meal that definitely did not disappoint. After dinner, I went back to the hotel room and took a bath in the humongous bathtub in our room. I took that time to reflect on the past two days and the ample amount of knowledge that I had been given in such a short amount of time.
Before I went to bed I read the articles about the excursions we were going on the next day. These readings were filled with important information and I felt like my head was about to explode from all of the facts. I didn’t think I had any more room in my brain to process any more information. I know that this experience is just one of the many experiences, in the next six weeks, that will challenge me in ways that only a study abroad trip can do for a student. Even though it has only been two days, I feel like the personal growth I’ve experienced is exponential.
Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey!
– Cecily Carder