Final thoughts before I become a foreign journalist

Audrey Ray, pictured third from left with siblings Adrian, Evelyn and Iain, headed to South Africa on Jan. 15 with parents Brian and Kim. Audrey will share her experiences in her Observer column during her family's seven-month stay abroad.

[Editor's note: Audrey Ray’s regular column, “Musings from the Middle,” a chronicle of the joys and struggles of a Bay Middle School student, will be on hiatus as her family relocates to South Africa. Audrey expects to resume writing once settled in their temporary home in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. With the help of family friend Heather Ransom, Audrey filed one last article before heading overseas.]

Would you want to travel more than 24 hours to go to another country to live for seven months? I sure wouldn’t want to, but that’s what I am doing. By the time you read this, I will be in South Africa. My dad received a Fulbright Scholarship to study there, so my family will live there for seven months.

South Africa is on the very bottom of the continent of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere. But before I get there I am dreading the trip. I know it’s going to be long, tiring and boring. I also don’t think traveling with my younger siblings will be very easy. 

My family has been planning for this trip for months. My parents have told me things about South Africa since we lived there when I was one year old. So I feel like I kind of know what life is going to be like there. I’ve decided to try and make predictions about what life is going to be like for me in South Africa.

I know we are living in a house in Stellenbosch. From Google Maps, it looks like it has small yard that South Africans call a garden. I think Stellenbosch is going to be pretty big because it has a university named the University of Stellenbosch in it. I think it is going to be like living in Bay Village only bigger. 

We’ve been told that the grocery store is right across the street from our house. I predict that instead of us all shopping together, my mom might send me across the street to run errands for her. Crossing the street will be very different because cars drive on the opposite side of the road. Instead of looking left, right and left again, we will have to look right, left and right again. That will take some getting used to.

My parents say that going to the bank is different too. There are guard dogs outside the bank with security officers. When I was little, the security guard at our bank used to let me pet the dogs, but I don’t remember that.

School will be different too. I will be home-schooled by my mom along with my brother and sister. I want to thank my teachers Mrs. Hurtuk, Ms. Mullarkey, Mrs. Lion, Mrs. Battershell, Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. Sherwood for getting together all the work I will need to finish fifth grade. I only have one thing to say about the work you gave me: Did you have to give me so much?

I am excited to see all the different animals in their natural environment. I can’t wait to see the top of Table Mountain and go on hikes. I’m looking forward to seeing where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet. I really want to go whale watching and visit the penguins on Boulders Beach. 

However excited I am about this trip, I’m still going to miss my friends. It was hard saying good-bye to all of them, but I will be back soon. My parents think seven months is going to fly by, but I think they are wrong. I think it is going to go by very slowly. My mom tells me I’m going to have a hard time leaving South Africa in August, but I think she is wrong about that too. 

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Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 11:46 AM, 01.22.2013