About 11pm the night before the big voyage. Tonight I zipped up my suitcase to see if I could lift it. I raised it a little above my toes before promptly dropping it back down. So I unzipped it and sifted through the contents to deem what seemed unnecessary. I plucked out two surplus sweatshirts, thought, “that ought to do it” and zipped it up again.

Tomorrow is the big day. We don’t take off until about 7:30, then land in London about 1, London time, where we’ll have to race out of the airport (at 3am our time) to sail down the tube into London! Carol’s birthday is today and James’ is on Saturday, a day that kind of disintegrates in our travel in the air, so I expect we’ll need to celebrate both in London! What a shame!

This will be my first time traveling out of the country and the first step, I hope, towards the sort of career I’m currently pursuing. Our group has spent these past two weeks cramming our heads with information about South Africa. And while our attempts at familiarizing ourselves with the current situation are necessary, I’m expecting to be surprised at what we see when we get there. I wonder if the upsurge in xenophobic crime is really as bad the papers say it is, if the churches and refugee shelters are as full and horrible looking as the pictures I’ve seen, if a part of South Africa will feel like America with Nike and Coke and McDonald’s. One thing is for certain: This journey will be challenging, it will change each and every one of us, and it will be one of the most exciting, rewarding, and memorable experience of my life.