South African Adventures Await

Hello! My name is Paige Meduho. I am a third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown studying Business and Healthcare Information Systems, and I will be graduating in December. I am from South Park, a small township in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

In 2 short weeks, I will be on my way to South Africa. I truly cannot believe it, but it’ll definitely hit me when I am on an airplane for 15+ hours. I have been waiting for this day for what seems like forever, so the ride there can’t be too bad. Right? This will be such an exciting experience, and I am looking forward to making lifelong memories.

Fortunately, I come from a family that loves to travel. My favorite trips have been our cruises through the Caribbean. Seeing the world outside of the United States is absolutely breathtaking. I am so lucky that my parents have always encouraged me to seek new adventures through traveling. Without them, I’m not sure that I would have the courage to go abroad without any family or friends.

I knew I wanted to study abroad ever since the beginning of high school. Then, college came around, and now this dream will soon become a reality. Last year, I was initially encouraged by one of my professors who wanted me to go to Paris with her program. I was strongly considering going to Paris or London until I saw the Pitt in South Africa program. It made me think, “what other chance would I have to go to South Africa?” I realized that I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere that I wouldn’t vacation to.

In South Africa, we will be in Johannesburg for a week, Kruger National Park for 3 days, George for 3 days, and Cape Town for 3 weeks. During my time there, I will be studying the modern history of South Africa and Environmental Education for Social Change. I anticipate getting a lot out of this program personally, academically, and professionally. While we travel throughout the different cities, I am looking forward to communicating with natives and getting to know their culture. We will be going to many museums and communities, as well as visiting Nelson Mandela University and Kruger National Park. I feel as if I will grow personally and mature as I experience those trips. Learning about the struggles that South Africans endured will change my perception of daily life. Then, seeing the untouched nature at Kruger and the beautiful beaches of Cape Town will open up my eyes to the gorgeous outdoors. Academically, I hope to learn about all aspects of South African History. Although these courses have little to do with my major, I look forward to taking history and geology classes that I otherwise would not take on campus.

After graduation, I anticipate starting my future career as a Systems Analyst in a business or healthcare setting. This position requires a lot of communication between clients and technical staff. I will have to explain the information systems to clients who may not completely understand what we are building for them. Those individuals or companies could be from anywhere around the world. I hope to gain experience in culturally diverse situations so that I can put myself in their position. Effective communication will be key in my future career, and I feel as if these situations will help me better understand different facial expressions and body language. I also believe the program will help develop my project management skills. I will have many different projects at a time, and it will be important to gain multitasking and management skills now. From preparing for my trip to traveling, studying, and everything in between, I anticipate doing a lot of planning and work to stay on task.

The education that I will gain and the experiences I will have while in South Africa will benefit me in more ways than I can imagine. Having the opportunity to learn firsthand about South African history, culture, and natural beauties seem unreal. It’s certainly going to be the trip of a lifetime.