Experiencing South Africa - First Impressions

I think it’s everyone’s goal to travel and see as much of this world as possible. For me, this wasn’t any different. I’d have to say that in my 22 years of existence I’ve been lucky enough to see many places and experience different life styles. 4 years ago, I had my first long term abroad experience when I did a gap year in Mexico. I missed this life changing experience so much, that I decided it was time for a new challenge. Exploring new cultures, meeting new people, realising different perspectives and discovering magical places is something I live for. It’s definitely a healthy addiction!

How I got here and why?

While it’s my last year of studying ‘Tourism’, I was looking for a place to do my internship. I found Khaya Volunteers through my university, which really stimulates its students to jump in the unknown and live experiences abroad instead of staying in Belgium. Last year I still played ‘safe’ and stayed within Europe, but this year I wanted to take another risk again and just live a completely different life for a while. Sometimes it’s nice to escape your comfort zone and just jump in the unknown, far away from all your familiar surroundings. Personally, I know that making these decisions has taught me so much and given me so much joy and happiness. I have had the opportunity to have experiences and life lessons that I would have never had if I played it safe and stayed home.

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Home away from home

I arrived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for my internship in tourism/marketing and it has been this far a memorable, eventful and very busy time. After a long flight, Xolani (the driver) brought me to the beautiful Khaya beach house, which was much bigger than I expected with its 8 rooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, 2 kitchens and pool.

The welcome in the house felt comfortable and family like. All the volunteers are very openminded, social and include you in everything. One thing is for sure, there is always life in the house and you’ll never feel lonely! They invited me to some magical places this week, such as the karaoke bar, to the beach to hang out and see the life guard competition, to Port Elizabeth’s boardwalk and to the famous Sardinia Bay, where we watched a mesmerising sunset from the high dunes.

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The most important part of my journey will be the internship opportunity that i will undertake.  Being able to do an internship in another country is an eye opening experience.  Using my tourism skills and knowledge to assist in the development of Khaya will be quite challenging for me but i enjoy challenges and am really looking forward to it.  Besides doing tourism i will also learn more about social media and marketing which is something i am really curious about.  So far the enviroment in the office is great as we have weekly meetings to discuss the way forward and which tasks each person will undertake. Being able to apply myself is a great benefit for me as i will be able to put my theory into practise and i think this is very important for any career that one chooses to persue.  

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First impression of South Africa

Being in South Africa so far I can say that it’s very different to Europe but at the same time there is alot in common. It’s like the ‘real’ Africa as we picture it, with many European touches. The most notable difference is the people and culture.  People are very friendly and always make one feel at home.  The breathtaking nature and wildlife is also something that has really captured my attention.   Khaya has a number of projects all over Africa which i feel gives anyone who plans to volunteer here a chance to really experience Africa and all the beauty that it has to offer.


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