Being in business school full time and pursuing an MBA will make you realize how that nothing could have prepared you for the rigor of the course work and the time commitment that is associated with being in an MBA program. But, with all hurdles in life, I know that this too will one day come to an end and once I have the letters MBA next to my name I know that all of the late nights, early mornings, meetings, applications to internships, corporate events, networking happy hours, assignments, tests, study sessions, and lack of sleep….will all be worth it.
The one thing I would say that I do feel guilty about is the lack of time that I have to communicate with my old friends and family members that are not my immediate family (even my immediate family get very minimal time with me now). But other than the course rigors, late nights, and always being busy, business school is SO MUCH FUN. I mean, how can it not be???? You are introduced to a whole new set of people who, for the most part, have the same ambitions and thinking as you, who are in the same space as life as you are, and who are eager to learn and make new connections as you are. I mean honestly, we work hard and play hard within my program. But, I mean how could we not??? The amount of stress that we face each day is crazy and by the time our last class is completed on Thursday evening we are just ready to unwind with usually a little wine, good music, and each others company lol!
In all, I’ve told several people that business school is not for everyone nor is it for the faint of hearts (and please understand that not all business schools are the same so if you are attending an unranked school then you probably can’t relate). But if you want to attend just be mentally prepared for everything that comes with it. Don’t give up and just keep pushing.
Nothing that I have done thus far could have prepared me mentally, emotionally, and physically for business school. I knew that school was going to be hard, but I could not have imagined that in the first week it would be this hard.
Usually the first week of school tends to be slow and easy but business school is quite the opposite. Rather, we were thrown right in with out a life raft. I know you are probably thinking that I am being dramatic, but I really am not. That is how I and many other students feel. Everyday in the first week I was going to sleep past 12am because I was doing homework and studying. And even though I have been putting in work, it is not nearly as much as I need to be doing.
I am realizing that business school is like a never ending race that no matter how far you think you have gotten there is way more running to do. Each time that I had completed one task there was a classmate telling me that there were ten other things left to do.
Although the first week was insanely overwhelming, it has made me realize that I need to step it up and hunker down and do whatever it takes. Luckily for me I don’t have classes Fridays and this weekend is Labor Day so I am using this time as a reset to organize all my schoolwork, reply to the thousand emails the that I have and be ready to start fresh come Tuesday.
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
We had one more day in South Africa and we were going to use that last day discovering Cape Town and visiting Robben Island.
We purchased tickets to Robben Island prior so that we knew for sure we would have a place on the tour. They offer about 3 tours a day. Each tour takes about three hours. An hour each way to and from the island and an hour touring the island. We took a small boat to Robben Island.
The first part of the tour was the bus tour around the island. We had a guide who gave us the history of Robben Island and its many uses. Unlike what most think, Robben Island was not only for prisoners, it had many other uses including a place for leapers to live. The views from this island are amazing and breathtaking.
The final stop of the tour was the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned. The tour started in a holding area where prisoners would first be brought to be booked and processed. While we all found a place to sit, a man came to the front and began telling us some of brutal history of the prison, and he revealed that he himself was also a prisoner for many years with Nelson Mandela. The tour continued as he walked us around the prison grounds telling us about the different sections of the prison, and some of the things that prisoners were forced to do. The tour finally concluded with us passing by the cell that was designated to Nelson Mandela.
Holding cell of prisoners
Grounds of the prison
Being on this tour was a great way to end our trip to South Africa. Walking the same steps of one of my heroes was a transient feeling that I will never forget. Walking the grounds and thinking of being imprisoned behind those walls for years was a sad feeling that reminded me how much people had sacrificed all over the world for black rights.
The afternoon after we arrived to Cape Town, we were on the move again. We traveled via private bus to Val De Vie Polo Club. Val De Vie is most notably known for housing Prince Harry and hosting his polo matches in South Africa.
Val De Vie is located in the wine lands outside of Cape Town and is about a 35 minute drive from the city.
Once we arrived to the estates we entered full blown wedding mode. The wedding rehearsal took place shortly after we arrived at Val de Vie and after that there was a braai (The word braai is Afrikaans for roasted meat) at a nearby country club. This BBQ was open to all guests of the wedding and not just those in the wedding. The foods that were included were traditional South African foods that I can not recall the name off. The meats that were roasted included steak and lamb (I am one for a good lamb). The service at this country club was amazing. The wait staff was extremely accommodating and were very kind. This gathering went on for about four hours and during that whole time the wait staff was there serving alcoholic drinks, coffees and lattes, ice cream floats, deserts, and anything else that we would ask for. I have never been anywhere in the United States where the service was as good as the service I experienced my whole time in South Africa.
After the dinner my boyfriend and I went to our designated cottage located on the Boschendal Wine Estates. This was about ten minutes away from the country club that the dinner was held. My sister initially rented these cottages for all the bridesmaids but some of them could not stay so this meant that my boyfriend and I had a cottage to ourselves. These cottages were sooooooooooo cute. The aesthetic was that of a country farm house. The bedroom and bathroom decor matched the living and kitchen area. My favorite part about the cottage was the bathroom. It had an all glass infinity shower, a stand alone bath tub, and mountain views.
For some reason we could not sleep that night and decided to stay up to see the sun rise. I am not one to miss sleep. I probably was still stuck on east coast time and could not fall asleep (maybe it was all the coffees I drank while at dinner) but either way I was down by default. Getting up and seeing the sunrise at 5am was such a treat. It was so beautiful being surrounded by the mountains, exotic sounding animals, and the beautiful views of Franschhoek Valley.
After watching the sun rise I finally fell asleep at around 6am. Considering that was the same day as my sisters wedding perhaps it wasnt the wisest thing to not get a good nights rest before that day but I was up within three hours getting my life together for my sisters dream wedding!
There was no time to take in everything that we were seeing and feeling because as soon as we were checked in to our hotel my sister instructed my boyfriend and I to hurry up and get cleaned up for a dinner that her and the other young people attending her wedding were going to. About an hour and a half into us getting settled in our hotel room, my sister came to pick us up via UBER (yes South Africa has UBER. This was our best friend as we navigated through out the city).
I can not remember the name of the restaurant that we went to but it was one where we had to pick the appetizer, entree, and dessert. Wine and drinks were included. The meal that I ordered was sushi as my appetizer, a medium well done steak, and a creme brulee. I was pretty pleased with my meal minus the sushi but unfortunately for my boyfriend everything that he ordered ended up being a miss for him, so that meant that I enjoyed only half of my meal (unbeknownst to me and what I initially planned for my first meal in South Africa. LOL).
After dinner it was time to party and celebrate my sister and my brother in law’s upcoming nuptials. We ubered to a club by the name of Jade that was about six minutes away from the restaurant. We had a section in the club so as soon as we got there we were taken to a little area with small tables and couches. The first thing that I noticed about this club that was different to clubs in America was that there was no rope or security to section off the VIP. This wasnt a big deal as people seemed to not be trying to do the most, come into our section and drink our drinks. The best man in the wedding party knew the club owner so the whole night we were being sent bottles, and bottles, and more bottles of every drink imaginable. It was so many bottles that after we all left people in our party took the purchased bottles with them back to their hotels.
Club Jade had an overall pretty cool vibe. The club had a mixed crowd (Blacks, Whites, Indians, Asians) and the music seemed to accommodate that mixed crowd. The locals that I interacted with seemed cool and everyone who came with us seemed to have a pretty good time at Jade.
Once we touched down in Cape Town we had to go through immigration. The first South African that we came in contact with was the immigration worker. As we handed him our passports, the first question that he asked my boyfriend and I was if we had ever been to South Africa or Africa before. Once we said “No”, his response was “Welcome Home”. The smile and the feeling that we both felt after hearing him say that is indescribable. After 24 hours of flying, this warm welcome set the tone for the trip. I have never traveled anywhere (other than Trinidad) where I felt like “Yes, this is my home. This is my land, and I do belong here.”
Once we got through immigration and collected our baggage we decided to change our US dollars into Rand at the first money changing station that we saw. This was a mistake made on our part as the American Express station that we used took a larger percentage of our money out than the other stations that were readily available to us once we left baggage claim. But hey you dont know, what you dont know. We also spent 12 US dollars to purchase a electrical converter (this is necessary if you want to charge your phones, computers and any other electronic devices that you have brought with you to Africa).
As we walked through the airport looking for my father who was picking us up there were many pictures plastered around the airport of Nelson Mandela. Ahh what a sight to see, faces that look just like me…every WHERE!
After we were picked up by my father we drove through the city to our hotel, Cape Town Westin, my first thoughts of South Africa was “Wow this place is very 1st world”. Because I am so used to my third world countries that I have visited in the Caribbean, I just assumed Cape Town would be the same way. Not at all! Cape Town is like any other major city in the United States, and many parts of it reminded me a lot of Los Angeles. Although this was my first impressions, we did drive past some of the townships as we drove to our hotel. This was a reminder that although Cape Town was very modern there was still a lot more progress left to go in regards to blacks in that country.
My God, my trip to South Africa was more than great. I am excited to share the pictures and stories that I have for all of you. After 24hrs of flying to and from South Africa, you have to agree with me that a bit of decompressing time is more than needed.
I will be back soon with everything that occurred!