In the Fall of 2008, I was in my last semester of college and trying to figure out where I was going next. At the time I just knew I would be moving up to Atlanta and starting grad school. This was a very stressful time because I was taking 17 hours of coursework, studying for the GMAT and working on grad school applications. To throw another ringer in the mix, Colin’s family decided that they were moving back to South Africa. At this point we had been dating a little over a year, and I just knew in my heart that he was going to go with them. He made the decision that if he got into grad school he would stay, but if not then it was back to South Africa. Well lo and behold our grad school of choice expected real life work experience to get into the MBA program. We both had the grades and test scores, but not the experience they wanted. I was just shattered. Not so much because I didn’t get into the program but because I knew Colin would be leaving. After dating only a year and being college kids, our relationship wasn’t perfect but I knew Colin was special and I wasn’t about to let him get away that easily. About a week after finding out we didn’t get in, I received a call from the admissions officer of the Masters of Accounting program at the same grad school we had applied to. She was offering me a spot in their program because unlike the MBA, they did not require the work experience. I really wanted to get my MBA and not be so specialized in accounting. (which is humorous because I ended up getting my Masters in Accounting) I told her I would think about it and get back to her. Next came, without a doubt, the biggest decision of my life: I’m moving to South Africa.
I want you to understand why this was such a huge decision for me. Not only was I about to sell my car, pack up all my belongings, and fit pretty much my entire life into a couple of suitcases but I was venturing out into the unknown. Growing up I lived in one house, went to one school K-12 and had very little change in my life. Other than moving 200 miles away for college (which I did with my best friends) I hadn’t ventured out to do something so crazy. No one really believed me when I said I was moving to South Africa but I had my parents support (even if my dad was convinced I was going to die there) so the planning began. As I said, cars were listed for sale, boxes and bags were packed, money was transferred and on February 8, 2009 Colin and I headed to the airport to begin our crazy adventure.
I had no idea what to expect. What are the buildings like? What kind of cars do they have? They do have indoor plumbing, right??? I did very little research beforehand and I don’t really know why. I think I was just very excited about the unknown. Everyone, including Colin and I, had our doubts. We questioned what would happen if things between us didn’t work out. (spoiler alert: they did!!) We just decided that we would look at it like a once in a lifetime adventure and no hard feelings that I moved 8,000 miles away from everything I know just because I knew he was special. 🙂 I could write about our 18 months in South Africa for days and days because it was such a special time in our lives. We made some amazing friends, spent quality time with family, got engaged, got married, and I was able to really find myself. We are fortunate enough to get to travel back to South Africa in a couple of months and I get emotional just thinking about it.
With our trip coming up I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our time in South Africa. From me it really took a lot of courage, or maybe a temporary lapse in sanity, to make the big move but I never have regretted it. I’ve had some, possibly life changing, ideas lately but it’s the aspect of the unknown and putting myself out there that has been holding me back. Stay tuned because this second trip to South Africa just may be the renewal I need to push me back out there.
Have you ever been to South Africa? (If not you really need to add it to your list!)
When was the last time you took a big jump into the unknown?