I went to Cape Town – and so should you

By Beth Cormack

(Courtesy of Dietmar Temps)
(Dietmar Temps/flickr)

There are so many ways I could preface this article. I could tell you I pet a full-grown lion, rode an elephant or even saw some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I could tell you I learned that a “braai” is so much better than a traditional cookout, and how the word “lekker” has taken on a totally different meaning to me.

However, I’m going to attempt to answer a question that everyone seemed to be asking me prior to my departure – “Why on Earth are you going to Cape Town?”

We all have things in life that make us feel whole. Things that make us realize that life is so much more than simply waking up every morning and doing the same routine. We want to be in control life and seize every opportunity that will give us some type of satisfaction. Unfortunately, we do not always do that. If controlling life was so easy, I think we would have it all figured out at this point.

I was in search of giving my life more meaning. I craved adventure and I craved the unknown. As Oscar Wilde once said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. So, live. Do not just exist.

On my third day in Cape Town, my realtor took a few of my roommates and I on a personal tour. I was still in the “euphoria” stage of a study abroad student, fascinated by every little thing that surrounded me. The realtor showed us different areas of the city and drove on the cliffs that overlooked the oceans. We got lunch at a local seafood place and sat on a patch of grass on a cliff next to the water. I had never been in such awe. I thought to myself, “This is my home.” He began to ask us why we chose South Africa to study, and I answered the same way that I always have: I wanted to do something different, something that was out of my comfort zone.

He looked at me and said, “That’s what life is all about. You guys are so young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Do something while you can.”

I find myself always replaying that quote over and over in my head. “Do something while you can.” Too often we let opportunities slip through our fingers because we think we have the rest of our lives to do it. That type of thinking gets you nowhere. Any opportunity that comes your way you have to grab it, because you never know when it will come again, or if it will ever come again.

I could go on and on about how much I learned living in Cape Town for five months, but I think the biggest thing is realizing how powerful exploring the world is. I would not change my life in Boston or Amherst for anything, but I realized it’s so small. Look on a map and see what a small part of the world you occupy.

I am quickly approaching the final days of my college career, so I would like to think I have learned the ropes by now. If I was asked to give a single piece of college advice to someone it would be to study abroad. There is so much out there to see, and if you hold back from doing things and justify it by saying you have the rest of your life to do it, you are wrong. Your life is now. This is the time in our lives we get to be selfish. Take advantage of that and do things that make you feel like you do more than just exist. Get out there and see what the world has to offer.

Remember: the only limits on life are ones that you put there yourself. Challenge your limits and you may be surprised how much it can leave a lasting mark on you.

Cape Town has shown me how much life has to offer and how important it is to challenge yourself. Life is short, so make your story one worth reading.

So, why did I choose Cape Town? If you do not know the answer to that by this point, maybe you should travel to Cape Town and see for yourself.

Beth Cormack can be reached at [email protected]