March 21, 2012

::Guest Post:: Jenna from A Home Away from Home

Surprise! I'm in California! Some recent news had me dashing out to the West Coast to help my very best friend prepare for battle. Flying out here Saturday morning was the best decision I've ever made :)...and I'll be out here for 2 weeks supporting, loving, hugging and laughing every minute possible. 

I arranged one of the sweetest bloggers I've ever met through the blogger-world, Jenna from A Home Away from Home, to do my very first guest post! Also a Southern California native (like me!), she's been living in South Africa with her Afrikaans boy...sounds like a fairytale doesn't it? As Jenna mentions below, I have no doubt that her and I would be fast friends given our love of travel, California and our Dutch & Afrikaans men! ;). I hope I get to meet her in person one day! Until then though, I asked her what her favorite things about South Africa were...go ahead and add South Africa to your travel list!! It's definitely on mine!!


Rachael's one of those bloggers who I'm sure I would quickly become best friends with if we lived closer to each other.  Her zest and passion for life is so evident in her blog posts and she's full of adventure, having {quite literally} traveled all over the world.  

Plus, we happen to have almost identical stories.  

Both of us met our love interests while studying abroad, both of us went through stints of long distance, and both of us eventually made {semi} permanent moves overseas to be closer to above said love interests.

Which I guess leads us to introductions...

My name is Jenna and that's Jurgen.  I met Jurgen while studying abroad in South Africa in 2008 and what started out as an international fling quickly turned into something much bigger.  After {tearfully} returning home to California at the end of my study abroad semester I finished my degree and then hopped straight back on a plane bound for South Africa and have been here ever since, which brings us up to now.  

A very short version of a very long and complicated story, but you get the gist of it right?

Since Rachael's so graciously given me full rights to her blog today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things about living in South Africa.  Although I do miss certain things about California {such as being so far away from my family}, for the most part I've really enjoyed the ex-pat life and am just trying to focus on embracing each moment as it happens without thinking {too much} about the future.

Here's just a few of my favorites...

1) The Wildlife

The opportunities to interact and play with wildlife are endless here, and so are the number of reserves offering safaris or game drives.  Be it lions, cheetah, elephants, or even more absurd animals such as ostriches, photo-ops are never in short supply.  The other great thing is that the reserves aren't over commercialized {yet}, meaning that you can drive your own private vehicle through the parks rather than having to pay the big bucks to go on a multi-day guided safari.  

2) The Cosmopolitan Cities

When I first arrived in South Africa I knew that there would be large bustling cities, but I wasn't expecting them to be so European.  South Africa truly embraces the laid back European cafe culture and I've definitely become  accustomed to daily cappuccinos, outdoor sidewalk seating, and the idea slow, enjoyable dining.  In parts of Cape Town {pictured above} one could easily forget they were in Africa and rather feel as though they were on a main street in Paris.  It really is incredible!

3) The Volunteer Opportunities

There are so many ways to give back in South Africa and it's definitely enriched my time in the country.  The  photos above are from the Help Portrait initiative, but I've also been blessed to be involved in some HIV/Aids assistance programs.  It's nice to feel like you've made a difference, even if it's only for a small few in the bigger scheme of things, and it's amazing to see the children's faces light up when they see you :)

4) Rugby

Growing up in the states I was never a huge fan of football, but since moving to South Africa I've officially become a die hard  rugby supporter!  The country is absolutely rugby obsessed and it's almost impossible not to get sucked into the madness of it all.  Plus, the fast-paced style of the game makes it a lot of fun to watch.  If you're ever in South Africa make sure to squeeze in a game!

5) The Wine

You wouldn't guess it, but South Africa is famous for their wine!  They have almost any and every varietal you can think of and even have one that is uniquely their own called Pinotage.  Wine tasting is extremely affordable {in some cases free!} and students often go together in groups on Fridays.  Talk about an awesome student vibe!  Pair that with a cheese platter or cellar tour and you've got yourself a perfect day! 


When I'm not taking over Rachael's blog, you can find me over on my blog, A Home Away From Home.  
I hope you'll stop by and say hello!


Jenna said...

I had totally forgotten that you're also from so cal - now it's just getting scary! :)

Thanks again for having me!


dreamsandjourney said...

What a lovely feature -I will have to hop over to her world... awesome pictures!

Anonymous said...

jenna is one of my fav bloggers :) and im always completely jealous of her adventures in s. africa!

Allie said...

I don't think South Africa had ever really been on my radar, but after reading this I feel like it's a must see! I think the wild life is really what intrigued me. Those pictures are just the cutest! And of course you simply can't pass up a place that is famous for its wine!

Allie said...

I don't think South Africa had ever really been on my radar, but after reading this I feel like it's a must see! I think the wild life is really what intrigued me. Those pictures are just the cutest! And of course you simply can't pass up a place that is famous for its wine!

Danielle Nelson said...

YES! Love new blogs like this! Thanks so much for sharing :) And I am excited to follow Jenna's story now too!

Niken said...

south africa sounds intresting!

Unknown said...

I knew I wanted to go to South Africa before, but this post put it at the top of my list!
I'm a Southern California girl who fell in love while studying abroad too! My man is Italian and we live in Florence :) Now following both of you!