#3 | South African Highlights and Final Reflection

Sorry in advance for not sorting out the photos, there are a plethora and I think reading the blog first and then putting a picture to the words will somehow make it more real. I feel it will make it more about the unforgettable moments that surprised me then and still surprise me now when I look back at all the amazing things I got to witness and experience. Whether that logic for photo placement is a load of bull crap stemmed from laziness is for you to decide!

 

South Africa, an amazing country with corruption and poverty but beauty and happiness all the same. This blog is about all of the things I got to do outside of the work (even though the work never felt like work). I met so many people I can’t keep track. Many of them from the states, many of them from Australia, many of them from Europe, or New Zealand, and not to forget South Africa. Everyone does this program because of one shared value, a love for animals. All of the staff and all of the students have a deep passion for animals and their well-being. This shared value means everyone is always in tune with each other, making it really easy to become best friends with so many amazing people. Some friends I met are in the pictures below and that includes Jackie, Carolina, Courtney, Kristina, J.D., Gen, Caylin, Lanielle, Audrey, Steven, Nahal, Linni, Imogen, Thobela, Luvuyo, Alex, Megan, Megan, and another Megan. That is just a whiff of all of the people I had the opportunity to meet, each and every one of them have a special place in my heart and I miss everyyy singgleee oneee. I got to do so many incredible things with these people, including hugging a rescued elephant, petting cheetahs that couldn’t be rehabilitated into the wild, kissing a giraffe, driving in the middle of a pride of lions on the reserve (its okay, we were safe 🙂 ), watch the sunset on the reserve with our ~beverage~ of choice (lets just say the drinking age is 18 and leave it at that), riding in a helicopter, kayaking in a river, surfing, speed boating, a plethora of karaoke nights, countless nights at the local bars and drinking many drinks while eating endless supplies of chips (fries), feeding nyala apples, looking at the stars that were free of light pollution, and so many little memorable moments that required you to be there to really appreciate.

Speaking of appreciation, I’m typically a really appreciative person. Coming from a home where my mom raised four kids alone without a college degree, (she got it after the 3 oldest kids (not me) left, I’m so proud of her, she is an inspiration and the nicest person you will ever meet, I LOVE YOU MOM!! (she reads all of these blogs) but alas I digress), it was hard to see money for luxuries, so when luxuries do exist for me, I always accept them to the fullest. But South Africa put my appreciation to a whole new level. Not only for the things I have that the poorer don’t, but for the ability for me to be able to travel to a place like this and give back. But not only just give back either, South Africa had so many things to offer me that it made me appreciate my place in my life. Being able to receive funding and support from the school to be able to do this, getting funding from family even when it stresses their wallets, and the support I get from everyone I surround myself with, South Africa made me more appreciative of literally everything.

This is my final post about South Africa. Part of me is glad I can stop blogging, but the other part of me loves to reminisce about the things I got to do through sharing it on here, I am glad I postponed my blogging until after I did the program. Even though it only happened a little over a month ago, I miss it so much. It was a magical place where everything can surprise you. Like the monkeys that would try to steal our food in our house, to finding a penguin on the beach that needed medical attention (that happened after I left though, but STILL!!). There was never a dull moment, even when things appeared to be quiet and relaxed, there was a whole new world right outside the door that is unlike everything I’ve experienced in my lifetime living in Michigan. The nature and landscape (aka the bush) was beautiful, sunsets that would knock your socks off, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, rhinos (!!!), and everything that makes up the ecosystems of South Africa within viewing distance from the highways, things like this is what made South Africa a place to never forget and to always appreciate in the fullest. Even though it was only 5 weeks, the people made it feel like a second home, a place where I could always return to, and one day, hopefully soon, I plan to. Thanks for following along on my adventure 🙂

-Michael

 

 

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