Student broadens horizons

Senior Emily Doss learns about South Africa in semester abroad


Used with written permission from Emily Doss

Senior Emily Doss with friends in South Africa. Doss said her travels abroad gave her perspectives as to privilages of United States life in St. Louis Park and the way in which others live elsewhere in the world.

Sam Orloff

How long were you in South Africa?

For five and a half months. From January to June.

Where in South Africa were you based? Did you travel around?

I lived in Cape Town. I traveled a lot. I flew to Johannesburg a couple times, I went up north on safari’s, I traveled the West Coast lots too. And of course, all around the Cape Town area and suburbs.

What brought you to South Africa?

I wanted to see more of the world, explore foreign cultures and languages. I chose South Africa because it’s a unique place to visit for Americans, and I knew I would learn a lot there.

What was the program like?

I was just like the exchange students who come to St Louis Park. I had a host family and other exchange student friends. And I went to school for grade 11.

What was the highlight of your trip abroad?

Meeting everyone I did – at school, in my neighborhood, in the city. I made lifelong relationships that I’m so thankful for.

What similarities between the US and South Africa surprised you?

My friends in Cape Town are actually so similar to the the way American teenagers are, and school was pretty similar as well.

What differences between the US and South Africa surprised you?

The different languages they speak, keeping up with the Xhosa and Afrikaans slang they use when speaking English is really hard. And also they drive on the left side of the road. The currency exchange was also pretty strange for me too. You could buy so much more there with a dollar’s worth than you can here.

Living in America, we are the luckiest people on the planet in the end, no matter our issues.”

— Emily Doss

Having returned to the United States, what lessons have you brought home from your time abroad?

I’ve learned so much I can’t even begin to describe it. But one of the biggest (lessons) was being able to see how poverty is affecting other parts of the world. Living in America, we are the luckiest people on the planet in the end, no matter our issues. I learned a great sense of appreciation.

Can you elaborate on this sense of appreciation you gained from your time abroad?

I’m so appreciative of school and everything we have at school here. In that respect we are so much more fortunate than them (in South Africa), and we are really the most fortunate in the world. Everyone (here) is always talking about how much they hate their lives, but we have things so much better.