I guess when I signed up for this study abroad summer course, I thought it would all be like the three-day safari we went on in Kruger National Park. I didn’t think about how difficult it would be for me, as an introvert, to be surrounded by people for two months straight, or the FOMO I’d get if I did take time for myself. I didn’t think about how difficult it would be keeping up with my mom due to the six-hour time difference. I didn’t stop to consider what it would be like taking my first Global Health course at Yale, or that other people would potentially have far more knowledge coming in than I would. I definitely did not for a second think about how I’d start going crazy, as I stayed in the same room, with the same three other people for hours, trying to edit a video we’ve spent weeks on and can now basically repeat word for word.
Instead, I pictured it all kind of being like Kruger: we’d go looking for animals in the morning, relax during the day, maybe explore the city, and then look for exotic animals again at night. There’d be amazing food, and we’d be surrounded by lions and zebras literally all the time. Instead, I ate an entire box of grapes today because I was truly afraid I might get scurvy (admittedly not the best fruit I could have picked for my vitamin C intake) after not eating fruit for many days in a row, due to the hotel really only having the canned kind, soaked in sugary syrup, for breakfast in the morning. Unfortunately, there have not been zebras and lions outside of my window when I wake up? So that was a disappointing realization.
Although this study abroad it quite different than I expected, I have felt so thankful to be here every step of the way. I got to meet up with a friend from high school in Mbabane because we both just so happened to be here at the same time (riddle me that one). I DID get to see lions and zebras, among many other animals, during the safari. I’ve learned a lot about global health and have loved every minute, and, at the risk of seeming super gushy and cliché, I’ve met friends who I really hope won’t just be around for the summer (que Summer Friends by Chance the Rapper). All in all, I’m so thankful for all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had while here as well as the opportunity I’ve gotten to see a culture that’s completely different than my own. I’m starting to think about all of the amazing times we’ve had on this trip more and more as I see us getting close to the end. Also, how did that happen?! It feels like we just got here! I truly get sad every time I think about going home, thinking that I may not see Thembi, our new Swazi mom, again. I’m even thankful for the hours I’ve spent locked in a room with Jaz (wrapped in her orange blanket), Kellen (with his loud sneezes), and Heeral (who threatens to fight me and tries to annoy me so much that I start to consider it), editing while I start airdropping pictures of myself when I was thirteen years old and dead mice (to be clear, those are two separate pictures – not my thirteen-year-old self with dead mice, that would be weird) to them because I’ve truly started to lose my mind. So thank you to everyone who has made this trip so unforgettable, and I’m so excited to make the most of the last ten days we have together!