The GoGlobal Blog

Friends, Dogs and Wine

Friends, Dogs and Wine

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by to read my first post, which has ended up being extremely stereotypical and admittedly a little boring. In the future, I would like to be a bit more analytical in my perceptions of South African culture, touching on the subjects of race, gender and sexual orientation, but as I have not yet figured out how to unpack those subjects in a fully comprehensible, respectful and thoughtful way, these next few simple paragraphs will have to do.

As of today, I have been in Stellenbosch, South Africa, for exactly one month. This lovely little town is more charming than I ever could have imagined, and being surrounded by 135 wineries and an endless expanse of mountainous beauty is a lifestyle that I am easily getting used to.

The most difficult, albeit expected, aspect about studying here has been the distance that has, both literally and figuratively, formed between me and my friends and family. Although the university provides campus-wide wifi to all students, the service is not free, and due to the limited internet access, I have become exceedingly aware and thoughtful of which online activities are worth my time, and which aren’t. Obviously, contact with loved ones is important in any circumstance, but I am trying to turn this limitation into an opportunity for personal and independent growth.

In addition, because I haven’t been able to text or call my friends, I have been forced (maybe “pushed” is a better word) to make new friends and quickly form my own little pseudo-family here. And certainly, the absolute most positive thing I have gained from this experience thus far is a sense of family. I am so lucky to live with seven people who make it a joy for me to come home every day. Because we spend the majority of our time together, it feels like we have all known each other for nearly a lifetime. And beyond just my housemates, the entire international office here cultivated such a tight knit sense of community during the first week of orientation that I automatically feel welcome among any group of international students. When applying and preparing for study abroad, I was extremely nervous about meeting new people and being accepted into a new group, but this fear has quickly faded thanks to all the wonderful and unique souls I have met thus far.
My favorite thing to do in Stellenbosch is volunteer for the Animal Welfare Society as a dog walker. Even though the society’s facility is currently far over capacity, the workers and volunteers there continue to tirelessly take impeccable care of every animal in their custody. It is a pleasure to spend half a day walking a couple pups up through the hilly vineyards. Spending time with animals has always been a rewarding and enjoyable activity for me, and I am very happy to have so quickly found an outlet for that hobby. Another (slightly more selfish) way I have been spending my time is by touring many of the aforementioned 135 wineries in and surrounding Stellenbosch. This is a surprisingly affordable pastime, and without fail, an absolute treat. Not only do the wineries offer a vast selection of South African reds and whites, they also almost always offer a wide variety of delicious meals and small plates.

Until next time, my friends.

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