While studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa during the spring semester of my junior year, I decided to apply to the Reves Center’s Peer Advisor Program. During my choppy Skype interview in a dark, unoccupied classroom at the University of Cape Town, I shared stories with my interviewer about my experiences abroad. After my interview, I continued to talk about studying abroad to anyone who would listen. At William and Mary, I became “that guy who studied abroad in South Africa… and won’t stop talking.”
I felt hopeless. It wasn’t my fault that I am wired to verbally express all of my thoughts. Nearly everything I did on campus reminded me of a tale from my time away. I would see an orange and remember how I fed elephants on a game reserve. Or a zipper would catch my eye and I thought about zip-lining in South Africa’s Garden Route. After three months back in the U.S., I could sense that my friends and family were growing tired of my stories. “We get it,” they would say. “You studied abroad.”
Salvation arrived my senior year at William and Mary, when I worked a few hours a week as a Peer Advisor at the Reves Center. I led workshops on the logistics of studying abroad, I helped with administrative work around the office, and I met with students one-on-one who were interested in studying abroad.
During my third week, a young woman walked into the Reves Center and sat down on the leather couch.
“Hi. I’m interested in studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. Do you know anything about programs there or what life is like in Cape Town?”
Why, yes. Yes I do.
Our conversation lasted about thirty minutes as I described five different study abroad programs in Cape Town (including William and Mary’s summer program in Cape Town!) and what my experience was like there as an American student. We engaged in an enthusiastic back-and-forth about her hopes for Cape Town and settled on a plan. She thanked me for sharing my stories and walked out the door.
Although she did not know it, I appreciated her gratitude more than she liked my stories. It was then I realized that the Reves Center is a special place where study abroad stories are not only accepted, but also encouraged and shared. I was working in the right place.
Jake Lewitz ’13 is an overly dramatic senior at William and Mary who, you guessed it, studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa during the spring semester of his junior year.