RachelCushing's Travel Journals


  • From Georgia, United States
  • Currently in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Chasing my lions

I have always wanted to be a traveler. Everything about the nomadic, exciting, adventurous, and unsure lifestyle just calls to me. Having only been out of the country once before that aspiration has thus far been, well, just that; an aspiration. But now I have been given the amazing opportunity to spend five months in Stellenbosch, South Africa and come one step closer to being that traveler. This journal is the catalogue of my various adventures in and around South Africa.


South Africa Stellenbosch, South Africa  |  Aug 19, 2012
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 This hiatus from the normal chatter of worried thoughts has not only been relaxing, but it has allowed me to focus on the present. 

As strange as it sounds, one of the most amazing things I have gotten from my time abroad, thus far, is relaxation. In my past experience, travel is many wonderful things; but relaxing is never one of them. I suppose the difference between all my other travels and my time here in Stellenbosch is that before I never really lived in the places I traveled to. Two or three weeks were the extent of most of my trips overseas. But there is something about being here for almost two months, and knowing that I have four more to go, that has really put me at ease. Now I should make it clear why this is such an amazing feat. To put it simply, I am a worrier. I have made an art form out of imagining every possible way a situation could go wrong and replaying those gruesome endings over and over in my head. Fortunately for me, I was also given the wonderful and completely contradictory characteristic of being adventurous. So I am usually able, with much mental effort, to turn down the volume of my anxieties and worries and allow my inner voice of adventure to stand out and be heard. The strange thing about my time here, then, is that I haven’t had to make that effort. It’s like I accidently sat on the remote control for my mind and hit the MUTE button without realizing it. This hiatus from the normal chatter of worried thoughts has not only been relaxing, but it has allowed me be more focused on the present. Academically, socially, and personally I have really been able to live in and appreciate, the current moment. Academically this came in handy when I had four different ten page papers all due in the same two weeks. With a bit of help from my habitual need to over plan everything I do, I was able to schedule my work, day by day, and take it in strides. Moreover, I didn't let myself get overwhelmed by constantly thinking things like, “Wow, you have to write 40 pages in the next 12 days. Ha. Good luck with that genius!” Instead, I focused on the goals I set for each day. This sense of calm has also come in handy in my social life. While I would normally be so excited with my new environment that I would attempt to attend every party, braai, trivia night, live concert, and open-air market I could find, more recently I have found that I’m not always searching for these types of stimulation. And the funny thing is, by allowing myself to take a few nights off, whether I'm reading, watching a movie or going for a walk in the afternoon alone, I am actually enjoying the time I do spend out doing the super stimulating things, even more. While I’m not sure if I will be able to hold onto this yogic state of relaxation and inner calm, it has at least shown me that there is another way to go through both the monotonous and exciting part of life. It has shown me that spending three hours laying in bed worrying about a paper I turned in two night ago won’t, in fact, make my professor give me a better grade. So I suppose a good charge for myself from this point in my adventure would be to analyze this ‘calm’. Try to understand where it came from and how I’ve been able to sustain it for the past two months. If I do this, perhaps I will be able to bring a bit of it back home with me come December.

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