Good afternoon from Go Global!
We are thrilled to be working with you this Fall on planning your study abroad experience for Summer 2015. If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you may have noticed that two of our interns were students on LEAD programs, one of our interns was a student on the GO program, and most of our quotes (so far!) are from students on LEAD and GO. But what about Direct?
Direct is our two week, non-credit program, geared towards students who have other summer obligations, have already studied abroad, have already graduated, don’t need the credits, or simply just want to get out and travel! Last year it was offered in Cape Town, but this coming year, we are excited to announce that it will be offered in two locations: Cape Town and Greece! There are so many reasons to choose this unique program, and although LEAD and GO are both awesome, Direct just might be the one for you! I’ve interviewed Community Leader Taylor Brock from The University of Alabama, Cape Town Direct student, to give you a look into all that the Direct program entails. Read up!
Anna: The Direct program is a non-credit trip. Is there ANY class or schoolwork involved?
Taylor: The Direct program is a non-credit trip, but there were still daily meetings in the morning. It was not necessarily “schoolwork,” but it was time to reflect on our values, what is most important to us at this point in our lives, and what will be important to us in the future. It was an opportunity to grow individually with some guidance from the program directors.
Anna: What was your reason for choosing Direct over LEAD or GO?
Taylor: My personal reason for choosing Direct over the LEAD or GO programs is different than most. I went on LEAD Ecuador the summer before and fell in love with Go Global. I honestly could not see myself sitting at home or just taking classes like everyone else. I took the Direct program as an opportunity to travel, meet new people, and give back to the community abroad. It also worked out perfectly with my summer schedule, as I had classes starting at the end of June. I was able to travel abroad and get the full experience and come back, take classes, and work.
Anna: Did you feel like you got to see it all/do it all in just 2 weeks?
Taylor: At first I was nervous to only be abroad for 2 weeks and try to do everything I wanted to do. But in all honesty, the program directors and guides make it so you can do it all. I did everything I wanted to do and even more.
Anna: Did you feel like you made lasting friendships in these 2 weeks?
Taylor: It may sound crazy, but I found some of my best friends in those 2 weeks abroad. The group of 25 of us talks every single day and we have plans of visiting each other at school. We even already had a reunion on the lake this summer. I question how I got this far along without them!
Anna: What would you say to someone who was considering Direct?
Taylor: If you are considering Direct there is only one thing I can say to you: DO IT. You will not regret it. You are going to make lifelong friendships, cross things off your bucket list, and last but not least, you are going to find yourself diving out of your comfort zone and making the most incredible memories.
Anna: In lieu of actual school, what were your days like on Direct? What was your schedule?
Taylor: Every day on Direct was different for every student. You have the opportunity to sign up for activities in the beginning of the trip, and then the weather and the size of each group determined what day your activity was. For me, I started out with our group meetings and a mini classroom discussion and we always organized a new lunch spot for every day. I always made sure I was doing something exciting every day, either sky diving, paragliding, hiking, high tea, sand boarding, wine tasting, or just exploring in general. Our days were as packed as you wanted them to be. I made sure that I was up almost every morning by 8:30am and didn’t end my day until very late. It’s important to experience the culture as much as possible, even the nightlife. What was so great about the group I went abroad with was everyone wanted to seize every possible opportunity there was. No one wanted to waste one minute or miss a single experience or adventure.
During Service days our schedules were all the same. We would be up early and on the bus to Sir Lowry’s Pass Village as an entire group. Once we arrived, we would play with the children and then split up into Community Leader groups and teach the children with fun activities in the classroom. Once that time was up, we would walk with the children all the way to the Soup mom’s homes and hang out with the families and learn all about their life, their joys, and their troubles. It was life-changing. Mrs. Hetta was my soup mom… saying goodbye to her was almost as hard as saying goodbye to my own mom for college. She went into her home, came back with oil and blessed each and every member of my group. She reminded us all that we may be on opposite sides of the world but we are all human and are all loved. After we said goodbye to all the children, we returned to Sun Stays Lagoon Apartments and the rest of the night was free. We all would go out to dinner together, enjoy each others’ company, and then just let the night take us to the next fun place.
Anna: What role did the Go Global staff play in your experience on Direct?
Taylor: The Go Global staff played a very important role in my experience on Direct. Pierce, Joanna, and Ish were the reasons why the Direct trip was so perfect in the first place. They guided us in every way possible, but they also let us explore for ourselves. I learned just as much when I was with them as I did when I was being independent with my group and exploring for myself. They taught us so much about life, adventure, service, and education. With their guidance, we were able to be independent enough to accomplish everything we imagined when we signed up for this trip.
Anna: Best memory on Direct.
Taylor: My best memory on Direct…that is a very hard question. Adventure-wise… it was definitely shark cage diving. I was terrified; sharks have been one of my biggest fears for a while now, and that thought of me getting into a steel cage in the water with them was not comforting whatsoever. We had this huge plan: Erica, Lindsay, Savannah, Margot, and I were going to get into the cage together. We shimmied into our wet suits, put our masks on and, were preparing to switch places with the group that was currently in the cage. Once the switch was made, I had a panic attack. Just the mere action of me in that cold water in the middle of the ocean sent fear shooting all over my body. I had my GoPro in one hand, and my other hand was gripping on the bar above me for dear life. We were in the cage for about 10 minutes before a shark came, and then all of a sudden, I heard “DOWN” from the captain above, which meant a shark was heading toward the cage so we had to dive underwater. As soon as I submerged, I saw the shark…. inches from me. Looking me dead into the eyes. We all screamed… not just me, but all 5 of us. We started scrambling around in the cage, when the next thing I knew, Savannah was on top of me pushing me farther underwater. In my video you can hear me saying, “Get me out!! Get me out!!!” We all started grabbing on to each other trying to get out of the cage first. It was so funny, I still laugh about it today every time I think about it. It would definitely be one moment of the trip I would love to watch over and over again, but never relive it.
Anna: All in all, what did you gain from Direct?
Taylor: I gained so much from this Direct trip. I gained friendships, I learned how to be independent, I learned that once you step out of your comfort zone you will learn more about yourself than you have ever before. I was taught the true meaning of giving without receiving. I gained the love for a city that is 20 hours away from me by plane, and I also gained incredible mentors from the Directors of this trip. Honestly, I don’t know how I went so long without Direct. It offers so much. In just 2 short weeks, you are cage diving, sand boarding, bungee jumping, sky diving… but that’s not even the greatest part. You also are working in a village with families and you are giving your heart away to these precious children. You are learning the true meaning of service and love. You are taught what values mean the most to you and how to live with those values as your guiding principal. You are blessed with many everlasting friendships that cannot be explained to anyone. No one understands how Go Global changes your life until you actually experience a trip for yourself. No words can describe how this study abroad program is better than all the others.
Anna: How do you feel about Go Global adding a Direct trip to Greece?
Taylor: When I found out about Greece Direct, I cried happy tears… actual tears. I have never been so happy in my entire life. I have friends from all over the South who are applying for it. I think it is an incredible opportunity and I might even have to ask my parents for one last trip abroad!
If that wasn’t an in-depth interview, I don’t know what is! Thank you, Taylor, for so thoroughly teaching us all about the benefits of choosing Direct through Go Global! We are so glad that you gained so much from your first Go Global experience that you wanted to have another one! That is our goal — to teach you so much about the world and yourself, that you leave wanting to learn more.
If you are interested in the Direct program, Taylor can certainly answer all of your questions, and so can our staff. Please, don’t hesitate to contact us! We are looking so forward to hearing from you and love helping you choose the right program for you.
Have a great day!
-Anna and the Go Global team