Lexi Arlen says Farewell to South Africa

As my exchange has come to end and the new school year has started, I begin to look back on my time in South Africa.

After adjusting to a new culture at home and in school, I learned to love life in South Africa. Weekend excursions included trips to the Kruger Park, Swadini, and the family farm.  All of them were incredible. Kruger was mind-blowing, seeing all these animals in their home. We saw so many different animals, including a female and male lion, a single rhino, honey badgers, giraffes, along with plentiful buffalo, elephants and zebras. Swadini is a resort in the mountains where we spent a weekend. I grew much closer to my exchange family there, including Crystal’s younger sister Amber. We spent hours on the trampolines trying to learn new tricks. Then at the family farm, I learned many new skills, including how to shoot a gun and drive an ATV. All of these weekends were also filled with many braais, which is a South African style barbeque. The meat is not seasoned and is cooked simply on coals with no gas involved. Then we would all say grace and have a homey family-style meal.

During school I became closer and closer with Crystal’s friends, as well as made some of my own. The only thing I really struggled with was what to do during class. I had already learned all the material and I could only play so many games of 2048 on my phone. I did classwork whenever I could, which made it a little less boring. Penryn was not the most organized with exchange students, so I never knew what classes were going on at a given time. This was also nice because I could go with whoever I wanted to whatever class I chose. In my last week of exchange, I feel that I grew closer to a lot of people, which made good-byes even harder. Crystal was sick the week before I left, so I went to school and a school dance without her. Because of this I was forced to branch out, which meant I made more friends and strengthened my existing friendships.

Round Square Exchange has been such an amazing experience that I am so grateful for. I would recommend it for everyone! It is so unique. Choosing not to go is missing out on an incredible opportunity. I miss my new friends and my exchange family. I’m already planning when I can go back. Thank you Penryn and South Africa for the best six weeks!