Soli Guzman-Rubalcaba arrives in South Africa

Greetings from Limpopo province! I have been here for a while now and I am happy to call South Africa my second home. I flew from SFO to Heathrow and then from Heathrow to Johannesburg. In total, I was traveling for 32 hours.

I spent my first week in South Africa with my grandfather traveling to Johannesburg and seeing the beauty of this county. We went to Soweto and saw where Nelson Mandela raised his children and I paid my respects to the activists of the apartheid. From there I went on a seven-hour bus ride to Polokwane, the city near my exchange’s house. After seven hours admiring the country side, I finally met the person I have been talking to for six months.

Meeting my exchange was been very special, as I finally felt at home after so much traveling. The next day we went to the Kruger National Park and they took me and my grandfather to see the animals we watched on TV for years. We saw all of the Big Five except a rhino. After that I said good-bye to my grandfather and started my exchange with my host family. Later that week we left for their bush camp, which is kind of like a cabin but on a game reserve. The next morning we headed out at 4:00 am for the Mozambican border where we would stay for a week. I saw so much but got a bit of a fright at the border when I found out I didn’t have the right visa. After that we arrived in Santa Maria on the Mozambique coast, where we enjoyed the beach and each other’s company.

After that we went back to Haenertsburg, a small little town that is on a mountain. My first few days took a lot of adjusting. I had to get used to living with cats and with not being the only teenager in the house. I got to see the farms that the family owns and swam in their cold dam.

My first day at Stanford Lake College was interesting as I was mushed into a crowed of uniforms that were all too familiar to me. I wore the same skirt in middle school and I was a bit shocked, for lack of better words. I started to pack my lunches as soon as school started as I am allergic to many foods. Along with this, I finally got to sleep in. I live five minutes from school, which is great.

The school is very different from and similar to Athenian, which makes me very happy. I feel a bit at home look at the beautiful mountainscape as I swim or when I move from class to class. It’s also comforting to have Essenia on campus and a lot of other lovely exchanges. There are exchanges from everywhere, Jordan to Canada to Germany. There are also two exchange from Spain who I speak Spanish to. So far it has been a lovely exchange. See you soon America!