My Trip To South Africa And How It Changed My Life

My Trip to South Africa And How It Changed My Life

Look at this Elephant!!


I have a fear of flying. I have been flying since I was about two years old and at least once, if not multiple times a year. Growing up I loved airports, the early morning wake ups by mom and dad to grab our stuff and head to our 7am flight, the excitement of the sun rising while your luggage was packed away in the backseat and your headphones were in. Flying was a breeze to me. When I hit middle school, my grandmother revealed her fear of flying to me and her horrifying experience with it. Ever since flying has taken a lot out of me. My nerves spike up but I do it anyways. I love to travel. I want to travel the entire world and visiting every state is on my list. Last March I was sitting in a community service club meeting at my school at the time, UMASS Amherst. They mentioned a service trip to South Africa and as cool as I thought it sounded, brushed over it. When I got back to my dorm that night I thought about the trip and my friends began to joke about going.

South African Airlines is great. A fifteen + hour plane ride with a fear of flying? Not so much. Did I find myself along with my four friends boarding a flight to Johannesburg on March 5th at 6pm from JFK? I sure did. Half way across the world with people I've known for a semester of college I was in store for the journey of a lifetime. The flight was not as bad as I anticipated. I was originally terrified of being on an airplane for the same amount of time as 8am to 10pm at night. Once we got up in the air though it all went away. I kept myself distracted but honestly looking back I am not sure how I did that so far from home, from family, from friends. Across the world.

Driving through South Africa was just as I imagined. Vast, dry land, minimal highways, cows and other animals grazing just off of the roads, settlements, intense amounts of litter and an incredibly random assortment of Porsches, Ferraris, Mercedes and BMW's (farmers sold their land to buy nice cars). After stopping at a few restaurants, I began to get a feel for their culture, food wise. Lots of greens and veggies, beef, special dishes of their traditional foods, puddings and anything else that could have possibly been grown from the earth. This pattern of learning the culture carried on through each meal, each long drive, each new native we met and each reserve we stayed at.

A few days after we explored Kruger Park (which was incredible) we double knotted our old sneakers, threw on comfortable pants, our program's matching t-shirts and bussed down to three local high schools. At each one, we met high school students who had never left South Africa, attended school for absurd amounts of hours each day and loved it, had only heard limited music from outside of their tribal songs, had no internet, and had never seen laptops. The children were lovely. They were beyond willing to learn and appreciative of us spending our time with them. Most were very quiet in our presence. I got to work with six different students and taught them the basics of a laptop. It brushed passed me at first that this meant showing them how to open it and turn it on, never mind how the oh so confusing mouse pad works. Once they got the hand of using their fingers to move the mouse around, we dove into Microsoft: PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. They were very attentive and seemed to learn a lot. I got the chance to ask them about what they want to be when they grow up and this was the part that changed my life. Many of the students had huge dreams. In America at the age of a high schooler, it is expected that one grasps the reality of what we will do for work when we graduate. This includes considering what we want to go to college for etc. The students in Africa dreamt of becoming DJ's, Actors, Rappers, Doctors, Scientists. It was amazing.

Each session finished with at least one student asking me how to download things from the internet onto the computer. They were talking about videos, songs, pictures so they could learn more about the world outside of their settlements in poverty. I would have to face the truth and tell them that they couldn't possibly download anything because they do not have access to internet. This broke my heart. I began to ask the aspiring DJ's who their favorite artists were and their favorite songs; they replied with the most brutally outdated music and artists that were never truly THAT big. I wondered where they got their sense of music from so I snuck out and asked the directors. They told me that these kids were allowed only three or so songs by their parents Samsung cell phone providers IF their parents even had a cell phone. It was sad yet interesting news.

This news has inspired me to bring music to these communities. I so badly wanted the students to be able to dream even bigger and grasp the outside world as much as they wanted to. I now collect iPods that are old and unused from people in the states and upload music of all sorts to them. They are being sent along with chargers and head phones to the children in Africa at the high schools.

This trip was something that I will never forget. It will stay with me forever and I am so very glad that I got on that plane in spite of my fear. I encourage everyone to fight their fears because it will come a long way.

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11 Inexpensive Road Trip Destinations For College Students

Because adventure.

College is a time to make memories. It is a time to set out and explore the world. The only problem is that it can be difficult to travel when you're flat-out broke. Many college students are discovering that while the cost of textbooks and tuition increases, their travel funds sadly decrease. Since jet-setting to Paris or Rome may be out of reach at the moment, many students are resorting to road trips within the United States to fix their case of wanderlust. Not only are road trips much more affordable, but they also allow for more spontaneity and exploration. There are countless of hidden gems just waiting to be explored, so grab some friends, put on your favorite Spotify road trip playlist, hit the road and make memories at these 11 incredible places.

1. Havasu Falls, Arizona

It is hard to believe that such a breathtaking waterfall can exist in the middle of the desert. Thankfully, Havasu Falls is no mirage. The falls are located in a remote region of the Grand Canyon and can only be accessed through a 10-mile hike. The entry fee to the park is relatively low and the overnight camping fee is even lower, making it a great destination for college students on a budget.

2. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Instead of spending a semester's worth of tuition on an expensive snowboarding trip, students can try a cheaper alternative - sandboarding. Located in Southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a unique destination that offers a variety of activities. Businesses right outside the park offer the rental of boards, sleds and even skis all specially made for the sand. This means that the rental and entrance fees are the only costs for a fun-filled day of surfing the dunes.

3. South Padre Island, Texas

Whether you head to South Padre for an exciting, fun-filled spring break or for a relaxing weekend getaway, renting a condo is the way to go. The cost of renting a condo can be very low if you split it among several people, which means you can enjoy a tropical beach vacation without breaking the bank.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

Vegas can either be a very expensive destination or a very inexpensive destination. That's why it is important to play your cards right - and I'm not just talking about gambling. Skip staying the night at the high-end hotels and enjoy their free attractions instead. If you decide to hit the casinos, make sure to keep track of your money - those textbooks don't pay for themselves.

5. Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

In the fall, college campuses across America celebrate the chilly weather with football games, bonfires, and pumpkin-spiced everything. For those who want to switch things up, pack your bags and head to the Smoky Mountains. These beautiful mountains are a must-see in the fall due to the stunning scenery and fall foliage. Try renting a cheap cabin or camping at Smoky Bear Campgrounds to save money.

6. Austin's Sixth Street, Texas

Sixth Street is an iconic and historic street in the heart of Austin. From the exciting nightlife and multitude of bars to the live music and unique art galleries, Sixth Street offers a little something for everyone. For a truly unique Austin experience, stay at the affordable Firehouse Hostel, just minutes from Sixth Street.

7. Daytona Beach, Florida

Located about and hour and half south of Jacksonville, Daytona Beach is notoriously known as a wild spring break destination for college students. While exploring all the concerts, bars and clubs that Daytona has to offer, students can take advantage of the free party bus for easy and affordable transit.

8. Albuquerque, New Mexico

For the low price of only $10 per person, you can experience Albuquerque's annual Balloon Fiesta. A photographer's dream, the Balloon Fiesta offers tons of unique sights, shopping opportunities, and delicious food. If you can't make it to Albuquerque in October, when the Balloon Fiesta takes place, there are plenty of other affordable places to explore. From Sandia Peak to Old Town, Albuquerque offers something for everyone.

9. Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida

For water lovers, this Florida gem has it all. Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and tubing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy in the crystal clear water of the Rainbow River. Since this destination is off the beaten path, it is an affordable alternative to Florida's Discovery Cove.

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

Two words: Bourbon Street. Full of iconic bars, local jazz musicians and interesting cuisine, there is never a dull moment on Bourbon Street. As if this famous street wasn't crazy enough, in February thousands of college students flock there to celebrate Mardi Gras. Though the prices of drinks can be high during this time, students can save money by booking their hotel ahead of time. For under $100 per night, Astor Crowne Plaza offers guests a luxurious stay on a budget.

11. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Though this one is not quite a destination per se, it should definitely be high up on your bucket list. This coastal highway, also known as Highway 1, hits many of California's major cities such as San Fransisco and Santa Monica. As if a trip to these cities is not exciting enough, the drive itself is extremely scenic. To save money on this trip, try booking cheap hotels or even stay for free at hostels. Of course, with this trip and all of these trips, you are bound to spend some money. But the memories that you will make on these trips will be worth every penny.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap

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11 K-Pop Songs For Any Mood, Big Or Small

It's becoming a popular genre, so here's some suggestions.


Over the past two years, I have been diving into a genre that has become very popular called K-pop. K-pop is short for Korean pop which is what the name entitles. Koreans singing pop music. The reason that I have been getting more into this genre was because of a group called BTS (if you don't know who they are at this moment and why, they are seven guys that essentially broke through the music barrier in the US first. To all my fellow army reading this, they paved the way). It takes a lot to understand what a song meaning is, but here are some for any mood.

1. Lost or feeling like you're nothing

Some suggestions that I would give are "Butterfly" by Loona or "2! 3!" by BTS. Both songs talk about being strong and that there are days that are going to be better because you are awesome.

2. Just went through a breakup and you're pissed

This I have go to with "Gashina" by solo artist Sunmi. It's more of the badass song that gives off this "bitch, why did you mess with me" vibe and literally one of the lyrics is "why are you leaving such a beautiful woman like me behind?"

3. Just went through a breakup and you're sad.

I had to dig but I have to go with "Butterfly" by BTS. This has a different feel from Loona's "Butterfly" but it's good to listen to because it can lift up a spirit.

4. Need a pump up song before a house party

"Gogobebe" by Mamamoo. It's that song that can get someone pumped up for a night out while getting ready, in my opinion at least.

5. A good party song

"Cherry Bomb" by NCT 127. The beat is big and it's a song to get people dancing.

6. A song for Wine Wednesday

"Dionysus" by BTS. The song title is literally the Greek God of wine. I don't that's not the meaning behind the lyrics but like... wine.

7. A song for if you just want people to say your name

"Say My Name" by ATEEZ. A new hot rookie group that I've been obsessed with listening to like that deep voice when they sing "say my name, say my name, say my naaaame."

8. Just need some drama in your life

"Dramarama" by Monsta X. *deep breath* DRAMAMARAMAMARAMAMA HEY! And rest.

9. In a happy and peppy mood

"Very Very Very" by I.O.I. Can I first say I love this song and can I also say that I wish I.O.I didn't disband.

10. A good summer song

"Dance the Night Away" or "What is Love" both by Twice. They're great songs and the music videos for both are just amazing. I mean, "What is Love" makes many video references!

11. A song you need to stream

Just stream K-pop in general. It's hard to get into the mainstream of music here in the United States and now K-pop is in that. Yes, it's in a language most may not know, but it's not the language. Music is universal.

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