From South America to South Africa to the, er, Midlands… – OurWarwick

From South America to South Africa to the, er, Midlands…

In some ways, I can’t quite believe it’s only been a month since I last blogged, as quite a lot has happened, and January is one of those marathon months, just going, on and on, and on… But we are nearly there, and for those of you at Warwick, you’ve nearly finished week 3, halfway to reading week! (sorry (not sorry) STEM subjects).

In fact, come mid- January I felt the urge to drive the M40 and relive my first year days, meaning I did take a brief trip up to Warwick. In between the quintessential student experiences like taking the bus and eating Domino’s, I, of course, squeezed in a delightful flat 132 reunion…

Endless love, if only we had the backdrop of Heronbank’s red brick

…as well as a visit to Pop (which featured me wearing a “bride to be” tiara for the entire evening, and telling everyone who would listen about my planned honeymoon in Bali, lol)…

Sorry it’s so blurry, but can you really expect anything else from Warwick’s best/ worst night out?! 

… and endless coffee dates in Warwick’s own Curiositea, catching up with everything and everyone. I won’t lie, I got a bit jealous when hearing about all my languages friends’ plans for their year abroad next year- I am aware it will definitely be worse when it’s my turn to sit through daily grammar lessons whilst they’re posting all about their travels online. Wah, wah…

However, don’t think I am mourning Colombia quite yet, as I have just under a week until I fly to Siena which is distracting me- there’s nothing quite like Erasmus forms, packing and endless online research to make your January, but more on that next time.

Likewise, aside from my big Warwick trip (which saw me drive the M25 and M40 all alone for the first time ever!!) this holiday has still been pretty incredible, as my family had a big reunion down in South Africa…

Valley of Desolation, Graaff- Reinet

My parents and brother were all born in Johannesburg, and my family actually only moved to the UK a year before my birth, meaning we go back there quite regularly to see our friends and family. Nevertheless, in true Osborne fashion, we marked our territory in the rainbow nation by using our 3 weeks there to drive 4000 km, from Johannesburg to Cape Town, featuring 7 different places where we stayed, 28 different stops, 5 swims in the “swimmable” Atlantic Ocean, and, oh yeah, a bungee jump…. 

Bloukrans Bridge, Storms River

Having wanted to do this since I was 14, the Osborne clan decided to grant me my wish on New Years Day, and therefore, on the first day of 2019, I celebrated by throwing myself off a 216m bridge (the highest bridge bungee jump in the world)! 

I wish I could say I was graceful, I wish I could…

Amazing. Horrifying. I confess I immediately regretted the decision to jump as soon as I did it (I didn’t quite think about how terrifying it would be to see a river, usually 216m below you, hurtle towards you at maximum velocity, but there you go) however, in true British fashion, I adopted the mindset of “now you’ve done it, you may as well enjoy it.” I would recommend it to all, however, as something to tick off the bucket list.

Naturally, a trip to South Africa had to include visiting game parks and to say we saw some incredible animals would be an understatement…

This guy was a favourite…

… as well as this one, a baby leopard who I spent a lunchtime cuddling!

As well as time spent at both the ocean (freezing, wouldn’t recommend) and in the Karoo, a semi-desert area that no- one can really define geographically, in the middle of South Africa,we seemed to cover it all. The Karoo is actually one of my favourite places on earth- just endless desert and mountains, with towns that seem to be stuck in time.

Prince Albert, the Great Karoo

We even went full tourist and took a trip up Table Mountain in Cape Town, and wow, what a view…

I won’t even lie, by the time we reached the top, this was all we could see, so we just went back down again…

So Table Mountain was a little disappointing. AND FREEZING. Despite my hopes for escaping the winter here for some sun, by the time we reached the southern tip of South Africa my jumper and jeans were getting regular use. Even my Dad was making offers to people with coats at the top of Table Mountain. Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration; whilst it was pretty cold down South, in Johannesburg and the desert we were treated to dry temperatures of 30 degrees. 

Storms River Mouth, Western Cape

However, when we finally reached Cape Town, a trip you could do from where we are based in 14 hours, but took us 20 days, it was time to say goodbye to our friends and family, and return to normal life in  London. Which was my cue to visit Warwick, and other friends across the UK. I leave next Wednesday and only plan to cross the channel at the end of August, by which time I will practically be a third year, and all my friends (who don’t do languages) will be in their final year. Therefore, I’ve tried to use this month to see and catch up with everyone, until I disappear again.

In some ways, the Year Abroad can be quite disruptive, as you do effectively leave Warwick and everyone you know for a year. Especially as I left in second year, and therefore only spent October- May at Warwick, I did feel quite nervous driving back up to the Midlands last week, as I had pangs of “what if I don’t know anyone?” “what if I feel like a stranger/ fresher all over again?” I think I will probably feel all of this, and way more, in October, when the time comes for me to return to normal life as a third year in Warwick. Yet, perhaps this is one of the strengths of the Year Abroad, as by then, I will have effectively been a fresher at 3 different universities, in 3 different languages and countries, and the issues with continuously relearning the ropes and trying to fit in will eventually mean you can adjust anywhere. I can already see this with planning for Italy, as in some ways, whatever happens there will probably be nothing compared to how I felt stepping on the plane to Colombia last July….

Until then, whilst I am trying to adjust from the Colombian “chao” to the Italian “ciao” as well as all the other aspects of the language (I tend to just use what I call “Spataliano”), I hope everyone has a wonderful end to January, and that February is warmer.

A presto!

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