More from Nia Warren in South Africa

INia 12t’s so wonderful to be a part of a school community as special as the one at Stanford Lake College! My first encounter with the school was my boarding hostile, Ken Shuter. I knew from the moment that I saw the lounge and the inside of the hostile that I was going to love boarding. Everything felt so “homie”.  My room was the exchange room, on the first floor; it is about the size of a college dorm room with a bunk bed. I got to meet my roommate, Georgia, from an all-girls school in Canada. Her and I clicked immediately and became really close, especially being able to share our day-to-day experiences with each other. Jacqui introduced me to her 3 other roommates: Kai, Amber, and Sara; I spent my first night getting to meet all of the other boarders at dinner. There, I got to meet a variety of different people who were extremely welcoming and interested in making my exchange special.

Stanford Lake CollegeIt was very nice being able to start my first day of school having met people. The campus is stunning and the photos on the website do it no justice! Every day, for the first week, we went down to the lake and relaxed and ate food. I even got to meet the other exchanges that I would be sharing my experience with from Australia and Canada. I started off wearing my casual clothing to school each day, but soon decided that I wanted to wear the school uniform. Believe it or not, I even started running! In the beginning, my friends had to pressure me to start running, but I actually started going on me own after that. Running is something that I wouldn’t even consider doing at home, so I am going to try to keep it up when I get back.

Every day I felt more and more connected with the students on campus! It was especially interesting for me being African-American at a South African School. Even though I shared the same complexion with the other black students, there were obvious differences in our cultures. To be honest, at first I was intimidated by those differences, but that didn’t last long because of how open everybody was. It was really special to learn about their language, culture, and perspective on South Africa, which they shared openly with me. I have learned a lot about what it means to embrace similarities and differences in cultures.

Nia 11There has never been a dull moment. My first weekend was an Afrikaans party, where I attempted to learn how to “saki” (popular Afrikaans couples dance). This was a great way to bond with my classmates outside of the school atmosphere.

Thanks to the Knott family, I had a chance to spend a week in Cape Town! It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. We were blessed with good weather in the winter, and the city actually reminded me a lot of San Francisco with nicer beaches. It is a very diverse city with a lot to do! I had a chance to meet the rest of Jacqui’s family, including her sister Tess! We got to party, have amazing seafood, shop, and sight see. One of my favorite places was Cape Point, located at the tip of South Africa, with Jacqui’s uncle as a tour guide! That is where I got to take some of the prettiest pictures because of the amazing views. I even got to take selfies with baboons who proceeded to try and open our car door.

Soccer is also something that I got to take up again on my stay! After attending practices, I made the official first 1st team and got to play my first away-game in Polokwane! Because I haven’t been able to play in a while, it was really special to me being able to play in South Africa! The team was super nice and I got to make a lot of great friends traveling with the team!

I was also lucky enough to reunite with one of my closest friends who came on exchange to Athenian the year before, Reneilwe! She is also one of the biggest reasons that I got so connected with Stanford so quickly! I spent countless nights sitting in her dorm room and talking. One of my favorite weekends on exchange was being able to spend the entire weekend with her and her amazing family! She got to show me a completely different perspective in Polokwane, South Africa! Polokwane is more of a city, unlike my home in Musina, which is more rural. I had a great time! We spent the entire weekend partying, eating, touring around Polokwane, and meeting knew people. I felt like I had to wonderful, completely different homes on exchange.

I truly can say, because of Round Square Exchanges, I have met people that I will be friends with for life!​