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From Cape Town to Lisbon: An Adventure with Random Roommates

Updated: Feb 29

By Ella Robin and Hannah Fisch, LEAD Cape Town 2023 & GO Lisbon 2024 Students

Meet Hannah and Ella. Hannah is a sophomore at Auburn University majoring in Finance from Nashville, Tennessee. Ella is a sophomore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is currently a sophomore at Louisiana State University majoring in Public Relations on a law school track. Read an excerpt from them both below about their experiences with our random roommate process and how it has inspired their future life-changing adventures!

Hi! I'm Hannah Fisch and I was a student on LEAD Cape Town in 2023, a program I picked because I wanted a program full of adventure that would push me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to go somewhere that I might not have the opportunity to go again. I had already been to Europe, so I wanted to explore a new part of the world, all while feeling comfortable and safe.

I didn’t know many people going into the program. I was hoping to meet more people by choosing a random roommate - and I am so glad I did! I only knew one of the other girls we were rooming with and I was more excited to meet the 2 girls I didn’t know. We created a group chat with all our roommates to text about packing and random questions as we were prepared for Cape Town, but besides that we didn't get to know one another much prior to arrival. When I arrived, I met my roommate Ella!

Being in a new place for a month, you feel a lot of emotions. Whenever I was missing home, feeling tired or frustrated, Ella was always willing to lend an ear. It was so refreshing to have a friend and roommate to lean on. I loved exploring all of Cape Town with her and our other two roommates.

We supported each other through the hard times and were next to each other during the fun ones. Ella and I became inseparable, and it was so hard to leave at the end of the trip. I could not have imagined a better experience, and I cannot wait to experience GO Lisbon with her next summer! I have so many favorite memories with Ella. Over the month of June, we did so many fun and spontaneous activities and I loved spending every second with Ella! My favorite was probably the welcome dinner. Ella and I sat next to each other and I just knew that we were going to get along. I loved going on the safari with her and bungee jumping, and literally everything else we did.

There was truly never a dull moment. Some of my favorite memories were the dinners we all talked for hours at or the nights on the couch where we told stories from the day or scrolled through old photos. The simple times we spent together throughout the craziness were the best. There were plenty of opportunities to get to know many people in the program in a seamless way, but I'm forever thankful of meeting Ella. I'm most excited to explore Portugal on the GO Lisbon program with her in 2024 and continue to make more memories together!

Hi! My name is Ella Robin. I picked LEAD Cape Town because I wanted the experience of immersing myself in a new culture, making new friends, and an endless amount of adventure. I wanted to travel somewhere that I knew would push me out of my comfort zone and give me the opportunity to experience different things. After talking on the phone with one of the LeadAbroad team members, I knew that South Africa is where I was going to spend my summer! Traveling to a different country is scary, and rooming with someone you know can make the situation more comfortable.

But, the point of LEAD Cape Town is to teach you to step out of your comfort zone. I knew that having a random roommate would create a special bond by itself because we were both feeling the same way. Doing this helped create lifelong memories that we can share together forever. I was not nervous, more excited to get to know the girls! We were all from different colleges, so I thought that was pretty awesome. I knew that this was going to be the start of making new friendships, and I was so excited to finally meet them. We did not do much communicating prior to the trip. We had a group chat, but we mainly just talked about preparation for the trip. We really knew nothing about each other beforehand. This is such a hard question, because there are just so memories Hannah and I shared together. Hannah was such a bright light when she walked into a room, and she really made the challenging parts of studying abroad not so difficult. We lifted each other up through the good and bad times and I am so grateful that I had her as a roommate.

One of my most memorable moments with Hannah was the bungee jump. Hannah and I were in the same group, and we were so nervous. Looking back at it now is so funny, because I’m pretty sure we were shaking as we walked over to the bridge. I bungee jumped first and was back up on the bridge when it was Hannah’s turn to jump. When she got back to the top of the bridge after jumping, we ran and hugged each other knowing we had both just accomplished something that we were so afraid to do. Bus rides, late nights, dinners, etc. are what made us close throughout the trip. The smaller things that you don’t pay attention to in the moment are what will matter most in the end. LEAD Cape Town changed my life. It has been 7 months since the trip, and I still talk about it almost every day.

LeadAbroad made me so comfortable during my time in South Africa and I believe it is the best program to join if you are interested in study abroad. I wanted to study abroad for a second time, and considering my positive experience with LeadAbroad last summer, I decided it would only be right to travel with them again. I am most excited to travel somewhere I have never been a second time around, and to reunite with Hannah. Thanks to LeadAbroad, I have found my travel buddy. GO Lisbon will be such a unique experience, and I am counting down the days of arrival in the airport.


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