Wednesday the 5th of January, 2011: The day that I checked in on a new adventure. Together with my (5 kilo too heavy) suitcase, lots of excitement and a little bit of fear as what to expect, I left my familiar world and took the plane to Cape Town, South Africa. As I fasted my seatbelt and felt the Dutch ground beneath me disappear, I smiled and thought: Suzan, what did you get yourself into? So far away, for such a long time..
No, was not going on holiday. I was on my way to Cape Town for my placement in the third year of my International tourism bachelor study. Like all the students at NHTV, I could choose from practically the whole world. Yes, a choice of luxury.. but I can tell you that it was a tough one. How do you know what’s the right place for you? During the first semester of the third year, the NHTV starts preparing the students on this tough choice. Lectures are given about the type of destinations, type of companies one can choose from and what one can expect from living in a foreign country for 6 months. And for students who would like to have a little ‘chit-chat’ with 3th and 4th year students about their placement experiences, NHTV organizes a speed-dating hour. During that speed-date hour, I made my final choice. I wanted to do my internship in Cape Town, no matter what. So as organized and prepared I always am (…), I started applying in October, got my placement in November, booked my ticket in December, and arrived in Cape Town in the beginning of January. I was already in the African mindset; no hurry, no worry.
Was it really that far away, for such a long time? No, because time really does fly when you are having fun. So before I actually realized, I repacked my suitcases (yes, I bought an extra one), checked in on the flight back to Amsterdam and saw how the African ground beneath me slowly disappeared..
Because I love to talk about my time in Cape Town, I immediately said ‘yes’ when the NHTV asked me to represent South Africa during the speed-date hour. Now it was my time to share my experiences, and to give the 3th year students the decisive reason to choose for South Africa. Most NHTV students have the same uncertainties and doubts when it comes to internships, so it is obvious that I was bombarded with all same questions every 10 minutes. I will tell you some, so you can come up with more thoughtful, unexpected questions next time
Why did you choose for South Africa in first place?
I tell you honestly that I do not know why I chose South Africa in first place. I think it was more a feeling. I wanted to go far away from home, but since it was the first time I did leave home for more than 1 month, I did not wanted to end up in a completely different world. So I played on safe and chose for a well developed and well know city. Cape Town is on the other side of the world, but still you don’t have the feeling you are that far away from the western world.
Which company did you work for and why?
I did my placement for an online tour operator, escape4africa.com, and I worked there on the online marketing department. It is a really small company, with only 4 employees but well developed and successful. What I liked about this company on first sight, was the fact that they asked for someone to develop a strategic social media plan. What is better than talking the whole day about twitter, and checking everything on facebook? Exactly! And the fact that the company was located in Cape Town was decisive.
How is the nightlife? (Duh, most important)
The nightlife is a-ma-zing. If you never get further than the Walkabout and Dependance in Breda, or the Philip in Tilburg, a new world opens for you. It looks like Cape Town developed a club or bar for every type of person in the world. Every weekend another party, and during summer time it already starts with a ‘sun-downer’ on the beach or at the swimming pool. And the nicest thing is; for not more than 15 euro you have a really nice evening and a belly full of vodka-lime and for less than 2 euro the taxi will bring you safely home after a wild night.
What will it cost?
Unfortunately, it is not common to get paid during your placement in South Africa. Without any income but student loans and sugar daddy sponsorships, generous grannies or your lovely boyfriend, it can become very expensive. Especially because you want to do everything in the time you are there. No income and so much cool stuff to do is not a very good combination, so I decided to rob my savings account. But every little Rand (the currency in South Africa) I spend was more than worth it. I had the time of my life! Honestly, if you really want to know, don’t go to Cape Town if you don’t have any money to spend. That would be a shame…
Why would you recommend people to go to South Africa?
I fell in love with this country, because the people are amazing, the atmosphere is so relaxed and peaceful and the nature is beautiful. There is no hurry, everyone lives outside (except during the winter months) and life is less materialistic. This country taught me to appreciate all the little things in life en to enjoy it to the fullest. But I think, no matter where you are, a 6 month placement will always be a great experience and a lesson for life. Okay this sounds really philosophic, but just follow your heart when making the choice for a placement-destination. It is the best advice I can give.
If you want to read more about my placement in Cape Town, and if you can read in Dutch, than you can check out www.suzannievergeld.waarbenjij.nu