“I’ve been back in the US for about 3 weeks now, and oddly enough have a bit of a culture shock.
I had always wanted to travel for work, and had done so around the US, so when the opportunity came to spend a 8 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa I was all in. As my accommodations were being prepared and my flight was purchased, it was obvious that I was excited to venture off into a new territory, and create a name for myself outside of the US. But the closer it got to the day to leave, the more nervous I became. This would be the first time I leave the country alone. Once I arrived in Cape Town I found a hidden strength within myself that I feel we all have, to adapt and thrive in different environments. By the time I left I had made great friends from almost every continent, and had the opportunity to shoot in the most breathtaking locations.
While in Cape Town, I was most concerned about my safety and transportation. I was told before going to Cape Town that young women like myself, must always be aware of their surroundings because it is a city of theft and crime. Growing up I was taught this very thing and for the first 4 weeks I was very suspicious of everyone around me. About mid stay, I had credit card fraud, and had to close my card. I panicked a bit, I had little money to hold me over until my new card came, so I had to try really hard to live within my means. Despite my best efforts to keep all my personal information private, I was unsuccessful. It is important to remember that Cape Town is a city like any other and unfortunately, this could happen anywhere.
To my surprise, getting around Cape Town was very easy. Your options include taking the bus, taxi-bus, a regular taxi, and uber/personal driver. The main form of transportation many South Africans took were the white taxi-buses. It is almost always crowded, and not the most luxurious way to get around, but it’s convenient, and extremely inexpensive. At first I didn’t want to go anywhere alone, but within a few days I took my first taxi-bus ride into town alone, and it was empowering. I was on a continent where no one knew me, and it was beautifully terrifying. I eventually trusted every last minute trip or long distance ride to a super rad taxi driver I met down there named Frank.
Cape Town is more of a cosmopolitan city than I imagined. You may think that with 11 national languages you would find yourself lost in translation, but english is widely spoken around the city, and tourism is a cornerstone in their economy. During my stay there was constant construction and renovation, providing a vast amount of new jobs and services within the city. People think of Cape Town as a place to build your book and get amazing editorial work, which makes sense considering they’ve got their own Glamour, Oprah, Marie Claire, Cosmo & more. My agency welcomed me with open arms, they were so supportive, really pushing me with work and exploring the city. They were like a second family to me. I got the chance to shoot several editorials, and build my book, but they also have larger campaign opportunities and commercials that don’t get noticed enough, such as their Edgar’s and Woolworth’s department stores.
Of course establishing yourself in a new market allows you some down time as well. I was eager to explore and be a tourist in this city, and I wanted to make sure I made the most of the time I had here. I went to Stellenbosch Vineyards, South Africa’s top wine producing area; I have never seen a more beautiful landscape. It was amazing to taste all the variations in wine, and because our tour guide shared with us the history of cape town, along with the extensive history of each vineyard we visited, the experience was unforgettable. I loved hiking the local mountains, and toughing it out during shark cage diving as well. Possibly the best thing about traveling here is how delicious and crazy inexpensive their food is, and being a vegetarian I was happily greeted with many options for all meals of the day.”