Live your dream
Thomas Sudholz of Horsham is back on home soil after studying in South Africa to develop his knowledge and understanding of a different cultural environment. He provided The Weekly Advertiser with updates of his experiences. This is his last instalment.
G’day everyone. I can finally utter these words in the public sphere and people understand me again, since my South African dream has come to its end.
In this article, I cover the final weeks I spent in that amazing country, summarising my adventures and experiences.
In my last piece, I covered until my return from the wonderfully sunny Mozambique, looking forward to a couple of weeks of adventuring through the Western Cape, which is exactly what I achieved after moving from my university residence.
Academia Stellenbosch had served me well, a safe residence through which I could study and socialise and accentuate my experience at Stellies – but it was time to vacate.
Luckily, I had befriended an Afrikaans family who not only welcomed me into their home for the last weeks, but also took me adventuring to the rather stifling centre of Ceres.
This city, located in the Warmbokkeveld, is a hub for fruit production in South Africa and true to this label, myself and a few friends spent the days there braaing – barbecuing – picking cherries and swimming. It was quite relaxing, although not too many tourist activities were had.
This time away was more of a holiday – and at its culmination I resumed my adventuring through Western Cape.
With all my possessions safely stowed in Stellenbosch, and my flight changed to a week later, I was into yet another vehicle to mission as far along the Garden Route – and back – as possible in four days.
As such, a good friend and I took off from Stellenbosch for our first stop, Stillbaai, a beautiful seaside holiday town.
From Stillbaai, we ventured to Mosselbaai, Knysna, George, Wildernis and finally to Plettenberg Bay.
Through these cities I was able to hike through the Tsitskamma Forest surrounding Knysna and Knysna Heads, visit the Transnet National Transport Museum in George and swim in the waters of Plettenberg Bay.
With my return to Australia beckoning, I headed back to Stellenbosch and packed my suitcases.
I had cultivated a life and formed some amazing friendships there, so it was sad to leave. However, South Africa had one last surprise for me.
Leaving Stellenbosch was quite the ordeal.
Cruising along the N2 at the prescribed 120kmh to Cape Town International Airport, a rock flew from seemingly nowhere and smashed the windscreen.
With glass throughout the car, I shouted at my friend to stop, to which she calmly replied: “No, that was hijackers. They rock your car and when you pull over, they hold you up and take your car.”
Luckily I had a South African there to keep me safe and advise me against my natural instincts. With no more interference, I arrived at the airport and departed about two hours later.
I arrived back in Australia at 10pm Christmas Eve, and Horsham about 2am Christmas morning – luckily my parents were there to bring me home for family Christmas.
Studying abroad in South Africa was comfortably the best decision I have ever made.
My writings for The Weekly Advertiser have also allowed me to recount details that might have passed from mind.
From hiking Lion’s Head and ascending Table Mountain, to kayaking Orange River and sipping local beers in remote bars in Mozambique – it has been outstanding.
South Africa is a nation of diversity and yes – it has some troubles, but so do many countries around the world.
Stellenbosch University was challenging in study, welcoming socially and provided the perfect platform from which I could travel and meet people.
I have made friends from across the world, but hopefully if I have achieved anything I hope to have convinced some readers of these pieces to visit South Africa or a country you have always wanted to see.
Take a chance and immerse yourself in another culture; you never know what you might find – love, lifelong friends or a ‘lekker’ time.
Thanks to those who read along with my adventures and, until next time, best of luck with harvest, holidays and 2017.