February 8, 2011. That is the date I fly out of JFK International Airport to Cape Town, South Africa.
In the meantime, I am packing up my life in Madison, Wisconsin, visiting my family in New Jersey for a few days, and anticipating a brutally long flight to the Southern Hemisphere.
I have lived in Madison for a year and a half. I moved here for a one-year term of AmeriCorps VISTA*Leader with Wisconsin Campus Compact, which ended this July. For the last six months I’ve been working as a nanny; It’s been a great experience that helped me learn about Dora, the Explorer, save up money, and enjoy Wisconsin’s capital city. Some highlights from my life leading up to this trip:
February 26, 2010: I put my application to earn a Master’s in Social Development at the University of Cape Town in the mail. I knew it would take about two weeks for snail mail to cross the ocean, but I had no idea how long it would take UCT to give an answer.
July 17, 2010: My second AmeriCorps*VISTA term ends. I’d been gaining career-building volunteer management and nonprofit skills since college ended, but with no answer yet from UCT, I was afraid to start applying for a new job in the nonprofit field. Was unemployed for about 24 hours before my first day as a nanny.
July 27, 2010: I turned 24 years old, and had no official answer from grad school. It was scary and exciting to admit that I had no idea what the coming year would look like—I could guess that it would involve holding babies, drinking coffee, and reading books. And that’s about all I could predict!
November 4, 2010: After months of phone tag, desperate e-mails, hopes, prayers, tears and pep talks from PJ, I was accepted to study at UCT during a Skype interview at 5:30 a.m., Central Time.
December 4, 2011: Plane ticket to Cape Town is purchased.
January 6, 2010: Student visa application is snail-mailed to the South African consulate in New York City.
January 20, 2011: My passport, with a one-year student visa attached, arrives at the Eppinger house. This is the point of no return—I can get on a plane, and South Africa will let me in to stay.
I’ve been working toward the move to South Africa for a year now, and yet, I am still a bit sad to leave this city:
But, I am going toward this, and summer:
I just need to get my fill of cheese curds now, while I have the chance.