African Ecology & Conservation in South Africa – Spring 2019
The last 100 days traveling around South Africa has been an experience I will never forget! I have seen and done so many amazing things over my time being here. Even though I have been in South Africa for over three months, it feels like I just got off my flight from the United States. I can still remember the pit in my stomach as I made my way to meet the people who would become my family throughout the duration of this program. Thoughts of anxiety and nervousness flooded my mind. Questions such as, will I get along with everyone, will they like me, will we have similar interest in ecology, do we have the same zodiac sign(s), and so much more raced through my mind.
Needless to say, that I had nothing to worry about, once introductions were over, we all quickly became the best of friends. Our conversations were not structure like strangers who just met across the world, but as friends catching up from the semester break. As we made our way to each site, over every obstacle, our bond grew; not as friends, but rather like one big family that is looking out for one another, even when you don’t think you need help. They know when you’re down, understand what you are going through, and are always there for you no matter what. Although this semester was meant to teach me about the wonders of ecology and conservation, the Organization of Tropical Studies gave me the greatest lesson of all; which is that no matter where I go in life, who I become, what I achieve or don’t, that it’s not about the destination but rather the journey, the memories, friends, and family you make on the way that truly makes life worth it. And while this journey is almost over, I know that its not the end of my memories with my OTS family and that is something I am truly grateful for.