Ione Wells
United Kingdom, Europe

“I don’t think that I’ve ever quite experienced a month and a half fly by as quickly as the time that I spent with VAC this year. Welcomed immediately by my housemates and other neighboring interns and students, I felt like a local straight away, feeling at home in both my house in Milton Road and the local area of Observatory. I initially signed up with VAC to gain more work experience with my internship. Although I received this, my learning process here extended far beyond the field of my placement to being about travel in general, about myself, about South Africa and about confidence. It was a fantastic opportunity to embrace the novelty of being amongst, initially unfamiliar, people and places, and seize every available moment to explore a fantastic city and meet wonderful people along the way – who have given me a worldwide network of friends who I hope to stay in touch with and see again on future travels, or if and when they come to England! I struggle to find a highlight of my trip given that every day was completely different and introduced me to new once-in-a-lifetime ventures and enterprises: from climbing Lion’s Head at four in the morning for sunrise, to working with members of the community from townships across Cape Town, to being immersed in culture amongst mountain-top festivals, sunset Kirstenbosch concerts and city street art fairs. Working abroad gave me a whole new perspective of South Africa that I could not have gained from tourism alone and I couldn’t stress enough how much traveling only own here opened so many doors for meeting people and discovering the city – with many of my most memorable plans being spontaneously made within minutes of meeting somebody! It’s been hugely difficult to face the fact that I’m leaving the wonderfully close-knit community of VAC in Observatory that made all of this possible and the memories formed here will stick with me for a lifetime – not just through photographs but as lessons I’ve learnt, occasions that will still make me smile on reflection and a whole bunch of fantastic people, both born and bred in.”