So far, South Africa has by far exceeded all of my expectations. We have already had such a diverse experience, the $6,000 has already paid for itself in my mind. We have done everything from swimming in water holes on top of a mountain, going on a retreat with no technology, and sharing powerful stories that have changed all of our lives. The Educo retreat was one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced. It was perfect having the retreat right at the beginning of the trip because it gave our group the chance to really bond and become a family early on. I can't believe how fast the past week has flown by. I do not want this trip to ever end. I am amazed by how many different things we have seen in the last week. We have seen South Africa's most wealthy parts and their polar opposites driving past the townships. This is only the beginning and I have already witnessed the huge gap between the rich and the poor. Everything is unique and rich with history here, my brain is starting to get tired, just trying to comprehend everything that has happened here. Tomorrow is our first visit to a township and I can't even describe the feelings running through my mind. It will definitely be an experience of a lifetime and I can't wait. I will blog again soon and tell you all about the township experience.
The culture here is so laid back and care-free, it is contagious. I can already tell that I have become a much more relaxed person since arriving. I have been here for 8 days now and can honestly say that I will come back here again at some point in my life.
So long for now, have to get some sleep before the township tomorrow morning!
My name is Matt Norring. I am a finance major in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Today, December 24th, is Christmas Eve, and I have just finished spending time with many of my family members. I am so thankful for everything in my life including this opportunity to go on a study abroad trip to Cape Town, South Africa.
I can not even begin to describe the feelings and emotions running through my mind as we are only 1 day away from departing. There are many things in life that we are all sometimes guilty of taking for granted - home, food, family, education, health to name a few. However, I am certain this study abroad trip is not one of those things for me. I am ready to leave all of my preconceived thoughts and expectations behind and open my eyes to something completely new. I can not wait to open my mind to another culture and experience something that will truly be 'life-changing'. I have always been fascinated by South Africa's will to never give up during the apartheid regime. I believe there is so much to learn from this country's rich history and how they have rebounded from such great adversity.
One thing that I am most excited for is helping out in the townships. I have always thoroughly enjoyed volunteering. To me, helping those in need is one of the greatest eye-opening experiences one can go through. I have never witnessed firsthand the levels of poverty in the townships that are discussed in Kevin Winge's book 'Never Give Up', but I can only hope that I will be coming in with the right mindset.
Until Next Time,