Why did you study abroad with the LIU Global College in Durban, South Africa?
Carly: Initially I decided to study abroad in South Africa because I had become quite attached to Mother Ocean herself. I had gotten hooked on surfing while conducting an independent study project on spiritual surfing in Playa Guiones, Costa Rica over my freshman year in LIU Global. While the warm Indian Ocean pulled my heart towards South Africa for my first semester of junior year, I was again pulled back by both my heart and mind for another semester during my senior year.
South Africa is an incredibly diverse country, with over eleven official languages it is easy to understand why Nelson Mandela labeled it the ‘Rainbow Nation’. The richest area of academic interest I ended up fully pursuing during my time spent in Durban were studies on South Africa’s vibrant civil society. With South Africa being a relatively young democracy its people still remember the necessity and strength of an active social structure within government.
The country itself is know for exhibiting the most social protest per year with a number count reaching over 10,000 events and actions. What inherently comes with such societal vibrance in reacting to government action is a constant dialogue between the South African people ranging from issues of privatization to racism. There is no doubt in my mind that any student traveling to South Africa will falter within this country of diversity, dialogue, and development.
What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Carly: What made the culmination of all my projects and studies in South Africa unique and special were South African people themselves. The first thing I noticed when getting into the country was the increased level of humanism I felt around me as people welcomed me with open arms, regardless of my past, my country's past, or my plans for the future. I don’t think I was asked once what I planned to do after college, this was a huge reversal of what I regarded as normal human interaction. It seemed everyone was interested in who I was and not what I did; there is a difference.
Recently, in one of my lectures at LIU Global’s Brooklyn campus, we discussed the idea of two contrasting cultural models: being and doing. America is very much a doing culture, where successes and failures directly correlate to achievements. South Africa, and specifically Durban came off to me as a being culture, where success and failure is less noted than happiness and contentment. I am still delving into these ideas, but I would encourage every traveling student to consider them while abroad in South Africa or anywhere else on our globe.
GHow has this experience impacted your future? (personally, professionally, academically, etc.)
Carly: Travel always affects me in personal, professional, and academic ways. In reality I think when you travel all three separate terms become one in a melting pot of experiential learning. The great thing about traveling abroad to new countries, places and spaces is that for the most part you have no clue what you are getting into. Putting oneself in these positions of the unknown tends to force one to get to know oneself more intimately, which enriches all three of the above fields: personal, professional, and academic at the same time.
In relation to South Africa, if I had to simplify all my learning into a top three list, I would say these lessons are ones I will never relinquish: always be honest with yourself about what you need, and do not silence yourself from requesting it or going for it, being happy and content with your life is the most revolutionary thing you will ever do, and additionally time is never wasted your mind only tells you it is. I wish all the best to any student who plans to pursue travel in South Africa or various other regions outside of their home.