Cape Town ep. 5

It’s been a few weeks folks, happy belated new year! I caught a cold while writing so it took me a bit longer to finish. So without further adieu, here’s my last post: 

10 Lessons Learned in Cape Town (in no particular order)

  1. Learn to laugh off traveling challenges so many times while traveling I found myself exhausted, confused, and downright irritable. Like when I was in the Amsterdam train station wanting to yell at the ticket machine for repeatedly denying my card and making it impossible to go anywhere. In a last ditch effort I tried to use apple pay and to my great surprise, it worked!  Now more than ever I know that traveling can be challenging, but all you can do is find the humor and enjoy the process.
  2. Silence is helpful – and often needed In a culture of productivity and go, go, go, I often neglected to take a day and read a book or slow down. One of the beautiful parts of this trip was the time I took to sit on my couch, let go of my fear of missing out, put my phone down and just read. I made some of my biggest personal discoveries during the times I stayed in, or took a half hour to journal my thoughts while waiting for a plane or a train. Moving forward, I’m working on being intentional with creating more space for quiet in my life here.
  3. Be willing to be wrong Living in Cape Town taught me there are other ways to do life and nothing is gained by assuming my way is the best way just because its mine. I’ve come back with different perspectives on work, health, and myself and I know there’s a lot more to learn if I just keep an open mind
  4. Small amounts of money add up quickly This I heard so many times and still found myself shocked at how quickly $2 here and $4 there adds up. Happy to say I feel like I’ve found the balance between trying new things and not spending too much. I know now that I’d way rather spend on food and fun than clothes or Ubers.
  5. friends are everywhere, if you look. I’ve always considered myself outgoing but being abroad for so long really showed me the value of putting down my phone and seeking connection. In Amsterdam I got a bit lost with a Canadian ex-pat who ended up going the same way I was. That same week, I was alone going to the Eiffel Tower and ended up making two great friends in line. They took my pictures at the top and we still chat on Instagram! In Cape Town, a barista ended up being one of my favorite people; we had the best waffles of my life together.
  6. Don’t be afraid to adventure alone I knew going in I’d be spending a bunch of time on my own and wasn’t worried but this trip gave me an ability to be content finding my own adventures and enjoying what I wanted to. I spent a lot of time with my fellow interns and it was awesome; at the same time, I am happy I had the chance to be on my own for a good bit as well.
  7. Ask for what you want-the worst that can happen is someone says no This lesson popped up everywhere for me on my trip; from the girls who shared their portable charger at a restaurant when my phone was at 8% and I needed to order an Uber, to the UPS guy who searched through the closed warehouse for an ID card I needed to get back to the US. Always ask!
  8. You never know what’ll happen if you step outside your comfort zone Something I never thought I’d fall in love with: hot yoga. I was never a big fan of sweating but on a whim decided to just buy the intro to a new studio and wow, was I a fan. I always say that trying things out is important; my time in Cape Town made me all the more sure of it.
  9. Relationships need conscious effort and open communication Obviously I knew this logically, but I saw it in more clearly than ever because of this trip.  Simply put, this trip forced me to be aware of the relationships I was trying in and those that I honestly wasn’t. I came back from Cape Town to a tear-filled conversation with my best friend who I had stopped talking to about halfway through. It was tough but in the end reminded me people don’t stay in your life just because.
  10. Less is more I came back from Cape Town, took one look at my closet, and instantly started taking things out. I don’t think I really understood how much excess was in my life until now. Not only did I reorganize my closet and get rid of somewhere around 10-15 bags of donations and trash, but I have grown more aware of other things. I’m currently analyzing if I’m spending on useful things or just being lazy to grocery shop.

In the end, this trip was, as they all say, life-changing. I’m so grateful to have gone on this experience and look forward to using these lessons both in my life in the States and in all my future travels.

Thanks for following along on the journey, don’t forget to add a visit to Cape Town to your life!


Reuniting with a friend.
Felt like it was fitting to end my blogs with this. Grateful for the trip and all the great people/ lessons I got (plus I met this girl who lives an hour away in the US, how cool is that?)

Cape Town ep.4

Holiday season came and went and with it went the post I had planned for last week so you get two in a week! This will be the second to last as I talk about my initial thoughts being back in the US and then I’ll wrap up with lessons learned in a few days. Ok on to today’s post: 

You know the phrase, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”? (If not: it’s about the bathroom, ok cool got it? Great.) You’re probably wondering why I started this post with that, and I promise there’s a point.  I mention this is because when I got back from Cape Town, this phrase was running in my head on a loop. The reason for this is that in Cape Town, because the huge water crisis happened so recently, there is still a large focus on saving water. When we arrived in Cape Town, we were told the phrase as a part of our water conservation talk and by the time I left, it was second nature.

Coming back to the US, one of the reverse shocks I had was just marveling at how much water waste there is. Before I went to Cape Town, I thought I saved water a bunch since I grew up in a house where my parents would be irritated if I left the tap on unnecessarily, but now after being in CT I have a very different appreciation of saving water.  I’ve found it difficult to flush every time I use the bathroom because I can’t stop thinking about the 9 liters of water that are being used, sometimes needlessly.

This is only a single example, but it illustrates just how true the phrase “Abroad changes you” (which I used to think was a huge cliche!) is. I’m from another country so I’ve always had a different perspective on life because of it but my time in Cape Town brought different issues to the forefront of my mind. When it comes to the water, you’d think being a Californian would have made me more conscious, but apparently I needed an extreme to really learn.

Besides that, one of my greatest challenges of returning has been readjusting to the pace of life here. I was used to working 50 hour weeks (or more) since I work in sales, and being in Cape Town slowed me down a great deal. As needed as the break was, one of my ongoing challenges has been speeding back up. I have major projects at work I need to take care of, but have spent several days feeling almost groggy. I’m continuing to improve and expect to get back up to full speed soon, but still plan to create space for quiet and slowness so I don’t lose them in the fast pace of living in the US.

The other obstacle has been answering the question “How was South Africa?!” I’ve now opted to just answer “Amazing.” because I know people aren’t looking to have a long conversation and are going to smile and move on quickly. The long dissections of Cape Town I reserve for a select number of people who I know are genuinely interested. One thing which has helped a lot has been staying in touch with my some of my friends from Cape Town. We have a group message and when one of us has felt nostalgic or sad we’re able to come together. Overall, being back has been an adjustment but I am grateful to take my experience abroad and use it in my life back home.

This time around I don’t have pictures but since this readjustment is a journey, have a photo from one of our hikes.

going down the hill in cedergburg
going down the hill in cedergburg

Until next time,


Cape Town ep.3

Took a few weeks but I’m baaack! Currently sitting back in the U.S; this post will center around my week leading up to departure. Next week I’ll touch on my initial reactions being back and finally, on Christmas I’ll give you my 10 lessons learned in Cape Town. Ok, onward to today’s post:

My last week in Cape Town felt like I was being pulled by a dozen strings in different directions. I needed to pack, I needed to hike at least one more time, not to mention the list on my phone of all the places I still hadn’t eaten. One of the challenges of being abroad for 3 months is the thought process that goes along the lines of “Oh! I really want to (insert activity here!) but I have time to do it so no rush”. Then all of a sudden, you wake up one morning and realize there’s five days left and still so much you haven’t done.

Unsurprisingly, my last days at my internship were sad as I grew attached to the people and my surroundings. I realized how much I’d miss the small things, how both Remano and Hester knew how I take my morning cups of instant coffee (which tasted way better in SA I might add), looking up to see what time it was across the world, the hand statue I knocked over every day. But I was happy we got the chance to go out for one last dinner. I am truly grateful I got along well with both of them and have a newfound appreciation for co-working spaces.

As far as the last minutes of the trip: it was plenty stressful. A piece I never anticipated but now that I’m not panicking makes a great story: a trip with my flatmate Gauthier the day before my flight to a closed UPS warehouse to convince a guy to find and pass me an envelope (containing my permanent residency card that was left in the US and I had to overnight) through the gate. Once that was out of the way, I finally got everything packed and set for the journey home. My friends and I made an awesome plan and I spent my last day doing one of my favorite things: enjoying a beer tasting at the Cape Town Festival of Beer. Not only did we get to try some great brews, but I also got to say goodbye to a friend and brewery owner I wouldn’t have had a chance to see otherwise. Eventually, I found myself on a plane bound for Paris and after 34 hours of turbulence and delays, I made it into SFO. 

Per usual, here are some photos from my last week:

beach, blue sky and mountains
The last beach I explored! Won’t say it was my favorite because they’re all great but I do really love this view of the mountains.
2 guys on thrones
Riley and I found these thrones and had to pose for some pictures. Not very comfortable but definitely felt like royalty enjoying my beach-side seat.
Spent quite a bit of time my last 2 weeks on that table at -you guessed it!- a tattoo parlor. Ended up getting 4 new tattoos at this place, loved the resident pups there almost as much as my ink!
Our last meal as a team. Although Remano had a whole different business, it was great to cowork alongside him for a few months.
This band performing at the Festival of Beer was comprised of people all over 60 and I enjoyed it very very much.
Festival picture with some of the best people I met on my trip.

That’s all for now,  I’m off to take a nap (will the jetlag ever end??)

See you next week.



Cape Town ep. 2

Checking back in from CT! I know it’s been a month since I last published, but I promise I’ll have at least 3 more updates for you as I finish and reflect when I get back to the States. Ok, here’s today’s post:

People always told me going abroad time would absolutely fly. I would nod and agree but internally think, “3 months is still a while, so I don’t think so…”

Two months in, I can attest to everyone who told me this being absolutely right. I checked a calendar today and all I could think was, “How is it possible that I leave in less than two weeks?” It seems like I blinked and all of a sudden I’m here.

Here, literally meaning: sitting at my desk at our off-site location about to prep a photo shoot for our upcoming event, which is definitely one of the coolest parts of my internship. #ChewBox2018 will see us  collecting donations and items for dogs and cats currently awaiting adoption. The brewery will also be doing adoptions one Sunday so I’m going to have to exercise some intense self-control in order not to head back with a new pup. (Only partially joking as I really want a new dog.)

Here, figuratively meaning: mentally prepping myself for another round of goodbyes tonight as another of my intern friends heads back home. Being abroad for such a short time, I didn’t think I’d grow so attached to people but there have definitely been waterworks. Currently trying not to be nostalgic when I haven’t even left but in having to say goodbye over and over, it’s hard not to. This is one experience that’s unique to IE3 and internships abroad, as if I had gone to a site with Linfield students, we’d head back at the same time to Mac. That being said, I wouldn’t trade this. I now have friends from all over the states (and some spots in Europe) and we’re already planning our first intern reunion next year.

Those aside, this past month has been absolutely packed. Here’s a photo look at what we’ve been up to:

A hiking picture from this past weekend. We hiked and camped in a spot with zero signal, which was wonderful. This is Riley on a rock formation we encountered on the hike.
A hiking picture from this past weekend. We hiked and camped in a spot with zero signal, which was wonderful. This is Riley on a rock formation we encountered on the hike.
sunset at this spot -- Signal Hill
One of the most epic sights I’ve seen here was a sunset at this spot — Signal Hill. We took so many photos here, this is one of my favorites.
celebrating Halloween at a local bar
The gals and I (and our bartending friend) celebrating Halloween at a local bar. We live in Observatory which is known for being a student and international-filled neighborhood.
wine tasting at Asara.
Colleen, my flatmate, and I hanging (haha) during a wine tasting at Asara. So delicious (and so cheap in dollars–$6 for 5 wines what!)
soy latte at Truth Coffee
One of the must-see spots in CT is Truth Coffee. The decor, architecture, everything is great. This is a soy latte and it is supposedly a horse done in foam, although I still can’t see it.
a gatsby. FIlled with fries and a bunch of other things; this one is vegan
One of the dishes South Africa is known for: a gatsby. FIlled with fries and a bunch of other things; this one is vegan! CT’s vegan scene is so great.
a picture I took behind-the scenes of Cass (one of the directors).
One of the challenges at the Protege bartending program was a photo contest. This is a picture I took behind-the scenes of Cass (one of the directors).
Hiking through mountains in Cederburg
Another picture from the hike. 4 hours through mountains in Cederburg were definitely challenging. High 90s and steep inclines, but we still made it!

Oh and I had a separate mini adventure this month too when my dad bought me a  ticket to see family that lives in France as an early grad gift.  Here is a picture of me at the Louvre Museum in Paris (saw the Mona Lisa in person albeit from a distance!).

Outside the Louvre during my France trip.
Outside the Louvre during my France trip. Saw 5 cities in 8 days and got to practice my very very basic French.

That’s all for now, check back for another post sometime next week about getting ready to head back to the states.


PS. if you’re a foodie and want to see more pictures of Cape Town eats, find me on Instagram @macamarri and check out my Eats highlight.


Cape Town ep. 1

It’s hard to believe that I have been in Cape Town for a month, whaaaat? Time has passed faster than I thought possible and I have had plenty of experiences, both positive and challenging.

To be honest, the start of my experience was rough. I got on the plane feeling a bit congested (not the ideal way to start 22 hours of flying time) and when I landed in Johannesburg, one of my bags was missing. Later when I got settled in my flat, the power went out so my first night I showered in the dark and after my phone had died, laid in bed wondering what I’d gotten myself into.  To cap it off, my second day I felt the beginnings of a cold and spent the next 3 weeks sick with that virus and who knows how many others. I seem to have caught a break now after a bout of the flu and am expecting to return to the US with an incredibly fortified immune system. Besides being sick, there were the obvious adjustments I had to make, like handling a different $ system, new schedule, as well as adapting to co-habitating with 9 other people.

That being said, I have loved being here more than I thought possible. I have gotten to try great food, connected with people from all over, immersed myself in a new industry, and have seen incredible views. I had no idea South Africa was this beautiful and I’m loving every bit of what I have seen.  Here are some memorable snippets from the past month:

One of the events I attend is sometimes held at the EBS school in Cape Town, pictures here is one of their displays.
One of the events I attend is sometimes held at the EBS school in Cape Town, pictures here is one of their displays.
This is what my workstation at my internship site looks like. Once a week my supervisor runs the bar so we set up there.
This is what my workstation at my internship site looks like. Once a week my supervisor runs the bar so we set up there.
Here I am (far left) with 4 of my flatmates and 2 friends. We all intern at different places at that's one of the cool parts of living together!
Here I am (far left) with 4 of my flatmates and 2 friends. We all intern at different places at that’s one of the cool parts of living together!
View from the Haut Bay Beach which is a stretch located on a mountain, super cool.
View from the Haut Bay Beach which is a stretch located on a mountain, super cool.
Live band we got to see at the Haut Bay market
Live band we got to see at the Haut Bay market
Another Kalk Bay mountaintop view
Kalk Bay mountaintop view
One of the views from the top of the Kalk Bay mountains; the hike up was 1 hour of steep hills but totally worth it
Another view from the top of the Kalk Bay mountains; the hike up was 1 hour of steep hills but totally worth it
Can't resist including one of my meals, this spot is Cape Town's best vegan fast food
Can’t resist including one of my meals, this spot is Cape Town’s best vegan fast food
View from a rooftop event we attended
View from a rooftop event we attended

All in all, it’s been a memorable month and I am excited to see what’s next.  I’ll soon be assisting at our Oktoberfest event and starting planning for a street festival. See you in a few weeks!