Zoe Kusnick says farewell to South Africa
Everyone will tell you that exchange goes by quickly, and they are right. My time in South Africa went by faster than I could have imagined. Still, Bridge House and Cape Town have become second homes to me. I don’t even remember what it felt like before exchange, when these places were just dots on the map to me. I am so glad that I have gotten the chance to live in and become a part of these communities. I want to thank everyone and everything in Africa that welcomed me with open arms. Leaving is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I hope that I will return someday. I’ll miss the amazing mountains around Franschoek, the beautiful beaches in Hermanas, the city life in Cape Town, and the sunsets. Everywhere. My love for the landscapes of this country rivals my love for the people here, and that is saying a lot.
Sitting in the airport in London awaiting a flight transfer back home, I am struggling to accept that I have just said goodbye to some of the greatest friends I have ever had the pleasure of making.There is a certain magic to exchange relationships that is impossible to explain, I have heard many others try and I have tried to find the words myself, but I don’t think I can do the feeling justice. I have so much love in my heart for everyone I met on exchange, and I am so grateful for everything they have taught me. It shocks me how our lives can be so different, yet undeniably similar. It reminds me that I am not alone–in anything. Although I may not always have my exchange, Mijs, attached to my hip anymore, I can feel that she and everyone else I met here will always somehow be with me. The hardest part of people leaving is that they take a little part of you with them. The best part is that you get to take a little bit of them.
Zoe Kusnick arrives in South Africa
As someone who has lived in the same country, state, and town my entire life, I definitely experienced culture shock when arriving in Cape Town, South Africa. Even in a ten-minute drive through the city, it is impossible not to recognize the differences between here and San Francisco. One of the first things I saw, on my drive home from the Cape Town airport, was of one of the largest townships around. Townships are large villages where people have built their own shacks out of whatever they can find. It was a phenomenon I had never seen in the Bay Area. It was hard to see so many people struggling, and it made me realize that I often take my life for granted. While I realize I am fortunate even in my own area, it is a whole different reality in many places all over the world.
Another thing living in Cape Town has helped me realize is how dependent I am on electricity. A couple times a week, different parts of South Africa are subject to something called “Load Shedding.” During load shedding, the power goes out for two hours. This is used to conserve energy for the country, however, it can be very inconvenient. It is winter here and this country has much more rain and wind than California, so being without heat can be very, very cold. Driving through a town during load shedding feels a bit like going into a ghost town. Although load shedding can be a hassle, I appreciate the forced opportunity to find entertainment off of a screen. For me, load shedding has consistently involved heaps of candles and board games. It’s not my first choice, but it helps you get creative.
While living in South Africa has inconveniences I would have never thought of, its multicultural population is something I love. Just at Bridge House, the tiny school outside of Cape Town I attend, I have met students from France, Germany, Dubai, Holland, and more. Having students from all corners of the world brings colorful conversation both academically and among students outside the classroom. I know that the inner city is well known for its diversity, and I am happy to even experience a taste of it in the small town of Franschoek. I love this diversity as much as I love the stunning mountains, the rainy weather, and the Afrikaans words I attempt to learn.