My name is Ben Parranto and I am currently a senior at the University of Minnesota, studying Marketing. I think it is safe to say I have never had such mixed feelings and thoughts about going on a trip. Initially, I looked into going on this trip because it is required that I study abroad, and this was one of the only programs that was able to fulfill one of my last lib ed. requirements. I had not known much of anything about South Africa before picking the program, but as the time for departure approaches, I couldn't be happier with my choice to venture across the entire world and spend three weeks in Cape Town. After attending the orientations and doing a little research of my own I have gained a little insight as to what we can possibly expect from the trip, but I feel it will be much more than I can possibly fathom at this point. With only a few days until departure I am getting increasingly more excited (or nervous, I can't really tell) but know we are all in for a time of our lives.
As I said earlier, I originally picked this program because it was able to fulfill a requirement, but after learning more about South Africa, the apartheid, and the opportunities we will have while abroad has completely changed my perspective and what I would like to gain from the trip. I hope to get a greater understanding of the culture in South Africa, both in the city of Cape Town, and in the Townships we will be visiting. After reading about the Apartheid, it will be very beneficial to see firsthand the effects this segregation has had on the black South Africans, and how the effects can continue to be seen today. Aside from learning about social change in South Africa I hope to gain a better appreciation for what I have in the United States. I have traveled to a third world country before, and it was very eye opening. Some of the things I saw completely changed my views and I hope this experience will have the same affects on my mind as my trip to South America did.
Everything in the post may seem a little standard, vague, and cliché, but that is really how I feel about this trip. I don't truly have an idea of what to expect, and am strapping in for the ride and going to try and gain as much as possible during these next few weeks. Now I really need to get a head start on packing and get ready for this trip.
See you soon everyone!