I was picked up from the airport by a lovely man named Gordan, an associate with Cape Radd, who held my name on a white paper to bring me to Simon’s Town. Upon entering the car, I looked down on the floor, and there lay three CDs: a couple Pink Floyd albums and Parachutes by Coldplay. For reference, these are my two favorite bands and, honestly, my top albums at this time of my life. Within the first hour across the world, I already felt a feeling of familiarity. This feeling would penetrate through the rest of my stay here and eventually be the result of me experiencing the rich culture of South Africa.

           Originally from Florida in the United States, I have been lucky enough to travel at a young age. My travels include a few of the states themselves, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Peru, all while being only 19 years old. Confidently I can say that this is my favorite place so far. Cape RADD has a beautiful combination of professionalism and personality that allows for a fully immersive experience of a country like South Africa. By staying here for four weeks, you can see the daily lives of another culture that might seem much different than yours; however, it is not. At the end of the day, everyone strives for love, food, passion, and a feeling of home. The only difference in cultures is simply the way how we reach that.

Student Augustus and his fellow course students out with the Cape RADD research team on the research vessel Yacht BOAZ.

           I am writing this excerpt just at the start of my third week here. My roommate Josh and I have been fortunate to explore around with the help of Cape RADD and their partners, Impact Divers, at the Ocean Hub. Josh is an intelligent guy from London who describes South Africa as one of the most beautiful places he has ever seen. While working at the Ocean Hub, it is inevitable to meet people who have a similar passion for conservation and marine biology as yourself. It is a niche subject, but it enables a constructive conversation when placed in a room with peers who also fit in that niche. This helps build a better understanding of the theory of diving, why we do it, and the importance of science in our daily lives.

Augustus and fellow students Freediving off the back of Yacht BOAZ exploring the reefs of the Cape Peninsula

           Providing an analogy, the idea behind the course is much like that of a math classroom. It is essential to understand that I am not passionate about math whatsoever. Still, I can understand the reason behind why it is taught. Often it is questioned why you would need to know the quadratic formula within your daily life. However, the theory behind it remains the same:

When you learn math, you are not learning the formula itself; you acquire a new way of thinking. 

           This is what this course has done for me so far. It has done the same as a new math course; the scientific method and passion behind it and the reasoning of why we do it is a way of thinking that I will never forget. So, while you can measure biodiversity, the consistency of microplastics, the water parameters of the bay, and perform quadrat transect line work, you develop a healthier way of thinking.

           On a less serious note, my SCUBA diving skills have significantly increased. I feel confident in the water, which is a feeling that I have always strived for. Since I was young, I daydreamed about the feeling of comfortably being able to explore and understand the ocean. There is no better place to develop this understanding than with Cape RADD in the beautiful country of South Africa. I will continue to write blogs and posts throughout my travels here, with more stories and lessons I have learned. Although I am halfway done, I feel I have lived multiple lives only within a couple weeks. 

I’ve believed that life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. This chapter in my life has allowed me to live the life that I have always wanted.

Follow Augustus @augustus.photograph