Hi slug travelers! Once again on Slugs of the World we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane to see what it was like for fellow banana slugs to leave UCSC and see the world!
Danielle graduated in 2014 and remembers her experience studying abroad in South Africa in 2012 as one of the best parts of her undergraduate career.
Q. What made you decide to study abroad in South Africa?
A. I knew I wanted to participate in EAP from the very first OPERS fair in fall of my freshman year. I love traveling- and study abroad seemed like a wonderful opportunity. I was worried about how the language barrier would affect my studies, but I also wanted a cultural experience. After recommendation from one of the seniors in my sorority, (Tri Chi) I looked at the South Africa program. I had taken an African history class and I was fascinated by the amount of global and societal change in the past 20 years. So, South Africa picked me. Essentially.
Q. How did studying abroad change your undergraduate experience?
A. It changed in every possible way. It was more challenging, because it took time and effort to complete the application and program along with my UCSC studies, but it was much more rewarding than I ever expected. I gained so much independence, confidence, and experience working with other cultures, as well as an ability to…take chances? Make mistakes, and learn from them. I learned a great deal about my abilities.
Q. Tell us a memorable story from your time in South Africa.
A. This is a really hard question, because there are absolutely endless memories and experiences, but I’m choosing one of my favorites. My friends visited and we decided to go on a hike. After losing our way, we ended up climbing to the top of table mountain. It actually took all day, and we were completely exhausted. While were at the top, the siren went off, signaling all climbers to head to the gondolas (to get off the mountain at night). While waiting in line, we got to see the most spectacular view of Cape Town and the surrounding area at night, something very unique, special, and completely unexpected. Moral: When things don’t go according to plan, there’s always a bigger picture.
Q. Did you experience culture shock or reverse culture shock?
A. I think, because of how westernized Cape Town is, it wasn’t too much of a culture shock. I did get homesick, the time difference is 9 hours and that’s hard. However, whenever I felt out of sorts, I just let myself be fascinated, amused, amazed, and just enjoyed every single moment. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Make the most of it.
Q. Now that you have graduated what skills from your time abroad have helped you further your professional career?
A. Currently, I work as a Family Services Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. The amazing part of my job is working with new applicant families, from many different cultures and backgrounds, some of which don’t speak English very well, or require translations. EAP prepared me to be open minded to all walks of life, and work with many different cultures. I also maintain contact with my friends from Norway and South Africa, and I hope to visit them someday.
Thanks to Danielle for sharing! If you studied abroad we want to hear about it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us where you went