2016 Fall Arcadia University External Programs Madeline Clapier South Africa

Philly to Cape Town

IMG_0979I thought my visa would never arrive. The weeks of waiting seemed to move in slow motion. I came home from work every day and immediately checked the mail for my updated passport. I started to worry that I would be forced to cancel my long-awaited trip to South Africa. As the day inched closer, I talked myself into believing that it wouldn’t be so bad if the visa never arrived. There would be more time available to spend sending my sister off to college, with my friends, and enjoying my city. It would mean another semester of SEPTA, North Philadelphia and walks down Diamond Street to campus. Although they are all elements of my city that I will dearly miss, opening the envelope that enclosed my passport gave me an indescribable sense of excitement. It reminded me that this was a trip that was months, weeks and days in the making.

Months had led up to this moment. Planning started back from at least December. These were months full of preparation.  Requesting letters of recommendation, transcripts, and class approvals. Waiting for all of these factors to creat an official application. Preparing for financial stability while abroad. Acquiring more and more hours at work. Looking forward to a semester abroad left me nervous, excited and hungry for my acceptance letter to actually arrive.

The last few weeks I have been waiting. Counting down the days to July 3rd. My day of departure. I filled these distracted. I preoccupied myself with finals, work and friends. I filled my ears with music on my walk to campus. I watched cars drive by as I sat on my house’s front stoop with my housemates. Sitting on my couch I waited for Rocky to buffer, so I could watch it one last time to remind me of my fictional version of home; putting off my responsibilities. In the back of my mind, I felt the reality of study abroad. There have been weeks consumed with preparations. I dreaded the constant deadlines for payments, visa applications, and flight purchases. I tried to enjoy these weeks, because I knew that these weeks would quickly turn into just a few days.

For the last days I have been packing. I have been packing my schedule with coffee, lunch and beach dates. I met friends between and after work to the point that sleep started to feel optional. My suitcase has been packed and repacked as I discovered that the seasons on the other side of the equator are the opposite. And my mind has been packed with fears and assumptions based on unfair sources.

The truth is I don’t know very much about Cape Town, South Africa.

I know I’ve received an acceptation letter from University of the Western Cape,

An email revealed to me that I don’t have a roommate,

Google reminded me that the exchange rate is in my favor,

My friend says he really loved living there,

I read a magazine that told me South Africa has a National Women’s Day,

My family keeps telling me to stay safe and that they will miss me,

And my weather app told me it is going to get pretty frigid.

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