It is absolutely crazy to think about my time in South Africa — that it even happened at all. Three months passed so quickly, and I have so, so many fond memories in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, the Garden Route, the Kruger and Johannesburg.
I’ve learned so much about being Asian American in a different racial context, about being female in a society that experiences one of the highest rates of violence against women, and about the promises and failures of a public health system that tries to offer free, comprehensive health care through an underfunded, overworked system.
I’ve experienced the most extravagant South African wines, foods and landscapes. I’ve hiked Table Mountain three times, visited the beautiful Kirstenbosch gardens twice and drank at so many gorgeous wineries. I’ve run across the sand on Indian Ocean beaches at nighttime, watching the phosphorescent bacteria light up little sparks beneath my feet. I’ve bungee jumped for the first (and last) time, praying for my life while suspended over a silent canyon. I’ve watched the sun set in glorious colors on outside patios by the sea. I’ve had beautiful, wonderful conversations with new lifelong friends while drinking rooibos tea and eating rusks.
I’ve even had time to examine what I want my future career to look like. I’ve decided to pursue global health research in the future, to help draw attention to health care access among minority groups in the U.S. My professors and TA’s in Stellenbosch have helped me see that it’s a path that I can carve out for myself.
This past quarter in South Africa has been one of the highlights of not just my time at Northwestern, but of my life so far. I feel so blessed, and so, so privileged, to have done it all, and I hope to be back again someday.