A journey to the other side of the world!

This post is 1/5 by Nicole Coury.

I try to make it my goal in life to do and experience as much as possible. Kind of like a reverse bucket list- I like to add to the list rather than to check things off of it. So naturally when I found out that Apparel Studies was offering a trip to China, I immediately jumped at the chance! Luckily they allowed me to go as a graduate student.

Before the trip I had never met any of the girls going; we were a small group of only 8, plus about 20-something business students. By the end of the trip, we had all really bonded and I consider every one of them my friend. It’s rare to find a group of random people that you click with so well, and I believe the reason we did is because it takes a certain type of person to say, “Yes, I want to go to China!”

Everything about the trip was amazing. It is truly the best trip I have ever been on and one of the best experiences of my life. I had never expected to love China and the culture so much, but it was unavoidable – I fell in love with it! The two weeks were a whirlwind, packed from the early morning to late at night. I definitely didn’t get much sleep, but I am so glad I didn’t! I decided that if anyone asked to do something – go out to a club/bar, dinner, go explore or whatever, I had to say yes! I slept for about three days when I got back but it was so worth it!

Over the course of the two weeks we went to five different cities, multiple business appointments, tons of cultural sites, and out to all kinds of places during our free time. The trip was the perfect balance between educational, cultural, and free time.

Day 1:

The trip started out on a strong note when we visited Christy’s Show room in Hong Kong. We met with three women who work for Christy’s, which is a company that designs and produces costumes for many major retailers (think Walmart and Party City).  They were all so smart, friendly, and interesting- everyone really enjoyed it. In addition to learning all about their company, we also got some time to speak with them individually in a casual setting. It was really cool to hear about all of their experiences – they had all relocated to Hong Kong from Europe and one was from New York.  They also told us that they would love for any of us to apply to intern or work there, which was awesome!

After Christy’s we got to see Hong Kong from the comfort of our coach. We went to Stanley Market to explore and have lunch. There was a great view of Repulse Bay- it was beautiful. After that we went on a little boat tour to see the city from a different view. It was fascinating to see the different buildings and boats. Then we went to Victoria Peak, which was an amazing view to see the city! At our welcome dinner we had traditional Chinese food at a very nice restaurant. One of the business girls on the trip is from Vietnam so she got the job of telling our table what everything was and what we should or shouldn’t try.

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Rice. Research. Karaoke. The Philippines!

by: Harry Wilmoth

Rice. Research. Karaoke. The Philippines!

Harry with research assistant Vilma Gucela

It’s a place full of academic opportunity and fun. A country of picture worthy landscapes, scenic beaches, and exotic cuisine. A place ot meet friendly and hospitable people everywhere you go. In order to adjust to daily life, I had to take a small leap out of my comfort zone. Let’s just say, I can now bathe myself using only four gallons of water and a bucket. Mabuhay!

This experience enhanced my knowledge of data collection, data analysis, and research tools. I created a survey from scratch to conduct face-to-face interviews with 100 community farmers. This research project broadened my exposure to research tools such as Statistical Analysis System (SAS) and manual random sampling. Due to the nature of my study, I had the pleasure to work with multiple people from different departments across Visayas State University. Everybody, from university affiliates to community farmers, truly went above and beyond to make sure that I had all of the information that I could possibly need for my research.

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The Pre-Destination

Hey! My name is Savanna Sluyter and I am an Apparel Studies student at the University of Arkansas. I’ve always had a passion for fashion as well as Italy, so when I had the opportunity to study abroad in one of the greatest countries, my own personal opinion; I had no choice but to take it. I stumbled upon SAI’s fashion program through the U of A, and truthfully the hardest part is actually deciding to go.

Everyone wants to study abroad but when you actually get the chance, most will freeze up and decide that it will be safer, or don’t want to dedicate the time or the money to something so fleeting. But I was told by many friends that it would be the perfect way to break out of my shell, further my education, and experience something that I would unlikely be able to do later in life.

Ok. Now I have chosen to go to Milan, Italy, what now? I have three pieces of advice for anyone who is planning on taking the leap.

Do Not Procrastinate

You cannot possibly spend months of your life in a foreign country if you aren’t able to figure out the application process. If it’s difficult, don’t be afraid to ask, that’s what the study abroad office is there for. I emailed my advisor at least twice a week for six months straight, and hey she hasn’t blocked me yet. And I promise that you will feel so amazing when application deadlines are coming up, all your friends are freaking out because they haven’t done it yet, and your just straight chillin.

Save Money and Scholarships:

I’m not gonna lie, studying abroad is a huge tug on your wallet but anything is possible whenever you put your mind to it. Apply for everything, even if you don’t think you perfectly match the scholarship. But you never know.

Research, Research, Research:

Don’t show up knowing absolutely nothing about the culture, food, or location. Being prepared is the best thing you could possibly do for yourself.

It should also be noted that I decided to study abroad with SAI in Milan, Italy at the fine arts school Nuova Accademia di Bella Arti where I studied fashion management and trend scouting for 4 weeks in the summer of 2014.

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My Solo Summer in Belgium

by: Sarah Mayfield

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Ghent, Belgium for three months to conduct a part of my honors thesis research at the University of Ghent (UGent).  My project dealt with the development and analysis of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)-rich shortenings and chocolate products.  CLA is a healthy fatty acid that has been shown to combat heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  Soy oil can be processed so that some of its fatty acids become CLA, and then it is referred to as CLA-rich soy oil.  I developed a series of CLA-rich shortenings at the University of Arkansas during the spring 2014 semester and shipped them to Ghent where I would work with them during the summer.  In Belgium, I conducted a series of tests on these shortening samples to compare their physical properties to those of shortenings that you could buy in the store (a.k.a. Crisco).  While I was at UGent, I also had the opportunity to make chocolate bars and chocolate pastes where I replaced a less healthy fat (cocoa butter and palm oil) with the CLA-rich oil.  I compared the physical properties of these chocolates to those of chocolates made with cocoa butter/palm oil.  However, I promise that my study abroad experience was a lot more fun than this paragraph makes it sound!

I was not travelling with a group or a specific program this summer, so when I arrived in Belgium, I did not know anybody!  I flew in to the Brussels airport and had to take a train to Ghent, the city where I would live.  The train ride was only 30 minutes long, but it was very challenging for me to figure this out because, being from the South, I was not used to public transportation.  I then had to take a taxi from the train station to the house where I would be living.  Once I arrived at the house, everything got better.  I lived with a host family, who made me feel very welcome and eased some of my initial misgivings about being alone in a new country.

I began working at the university a few days after I arrived.  I had been communicating with the professor I would be working with for a while before that, so my whole project was already laid out and I was able to start working immediately.  A majority of the summer consisted of me running experiments in the lab to compare my samples to each other, but there were a few deviations from this pattern.  For instance, I had to make the chocolate products that I would be analyzing.  UGent has an entire laboratory dedicated to the production of chocolate, appropriately named the Cacao Lab, and I got to work in this lab and learn the process of making chocolate from beginning to end.  As I’m sure you’re aware, Belgium is known for its chocolates, so for me to be able to learn chocolate-making in Belgium was amazing!

Near the end of July, the university was closed for about one week for Gentse Feesten, a festival that encompassed the entire city of Gent.  There were many booths set up where you could buy food and drinks and many local and international bands were playing concerts.  This happens every year and it was a great way to experience the unique culture of the city I lived in.

I left Belgium to come back to the U.S. in mid-August.  During my three months there, I was able to complete all of my research, make friends from all over the world and experience life in a beautiful city with a unique culture!

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My Summer in Mozambique

by: Chris Sims

Humbling Experience:

This study abroad experience was beyond amazing and humbling to say the least. During the program I was able to grow and become not only more knowledgeable about a third world country but also as a person. Over the weeks as we went and visited families to gather data for projects, ones initial reaction is the community and people barely have the basic essentials to survive; yet they were always extremely happy to see us. There were multiple times while we were at farms were, as we were leaving, the owners would approach us wanting to give us something from their farm. This small gesture and act of kindness was one that really got to me, we knew that a very large percentage of the community only had enough to provide for their family. Still these people wanted to give us something of what they had to show their appreciation. I knew that coming into this community we, as Americans, take a lot for granted. However, over the stint of the program there were many things I realized I personally take for granted; such as running water, clean environment, and ease of access to materialistic items.

When we would walk up to small communities and farmers at first you would receive blank looks and curious faces as to why Americans are here. Miguel, an employee of New Horizons, worked with us the entire time we were there. He would make contact with the farmers and tell them why we were there and how we wanted to help them. Immediately you could see their faces light up, from this reaction we could tell that just being there made, not only their day, but also their week. There was one day I was walking from farm to farm and as I left the first farm a few children followed us to the next one. After a few houses we were headed back to our truck and I looked behind me and there were at least ten children of all ages just walking with us. In almost no other country would you witness this happening. From this you can tell just how different communities develop across the globe.

Pre-Departure:

When I initially decided to study abroad there were multiple programs that I looked into. The more I looked into the Mozambique trip, the more I realized that it was the program for me. With being a dual major in Poultry Science and Agricultural Business this was the ideal program for me. This study abroad program is unlike any other because you don’t actually travel to another country to attend a school we were going to work with a business. The business that we worked with was called New Horizons. New Horizons is a poultry company that is located in rural northern Mozambique.

When I originally began my journey I came with an imagination of everything being in the worst possible conditions.  I knew that Mozambique is a third world country and that it would be completely different experience to have. For the duration of the program I wanted to be able to embrace the culture and experience. I have had the opportunity to travel abroad before for the sole purpose of tourism. This time was truly different, I would have the opportunity to immerse myself into a community and have a full experience of society. I also knew that I would be able to apply all of the skills that I have learned over the course of my past three years as a student at the University of Arkansas. Some people say that one only truly understands how much they know once they are put in a real world situation to use what they have learned and that is something I believe to be true.

Project Analysis:

The main group that I worked with for the duration of the program was the poultry team. Our team, unlike all of the others, did not come with a direct plan to work on. We wanted to observe how daily operations were ran and from there develop our project. For the first week we mainly observed how tasks were done, procedures that were followed and we analyzed production numbers. While we were observing during the first week there were many things that we observed and noticed that could use our attention, this is where our project developed. Our project consisted of making Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for the Breeders, Layers, and the Hatchery. We also created pre and post chick placement guidelines for best management practices. Some of the initial tasks that we accomplished were analyzing the temperatures within the setters to determine if they were running properly and efficiently; a house diagram to be used by the New Horizons farm technicians to quickly identify hot and cold temperatures spots within a house.

The SOP’s that we created for each of the three main pipelines within the company are extremely critical to ensure best bird management practices. Each guideline within the individual SOP’s had possible causes for associated issues and then ways to go about properly fixing said issue. With these SOP’s created it also helped to create accountability and responsibility.  During operations before team members never had specific guidelines that they needed to follow everything was by “word of mouth” which creates a lot of issues for uniform management. Now with the documents there is a place for the person that is responsible for the assigned task or procedure that needs to be followed to sign off stating that they done it. This is not a way of targeting people that do not do their job properly this to be used as a follow up and training tool.

We taught team members at the hatchery how to do a hatch profile. This is a technique of breaking open the unhatched eggs and determining when they died during the hatching process. This helps to identify key issues that need to be focused on to help hatch more eggs. For example if a chick is to be determined an early dead then possible issues to look at are; egg storage, handling, egg transport, and sorting. While we were there plans were underway for an expansion of the hatchery.  This would increase hatch capacity from 80 thousand to 120 thousand. We helped them determine the best available set up for them to better their overall production. Thru this determination New Horizons can increase their hatchability meaning more production, profit, and revenue.

Not only did we work on above-mentioned projects, but we also worked with the employees. When we were at locations as things were noted we worked directly with team members to help correct the issue right away. As we did these things we talked with the team members where we coached them the proper ways of doing things and why it is important to do it that way. Everyone that we encountered that worked for New Horizons was really receptive from all that we had to offer, they all wanted to do their job as best they could.

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A Whirlwind Summer

by: Sarah Sutherland

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I’ve finally had the opportunity to slow down and write a bit about my recent trip to Italy. For my study abroad experience, I joined 20 University of Florida students from various majors on a three week excursion around Italy. Our first stop was a meet up in Rome, followed by a short flight to Sicily. About an hour’s drive away from the airport in Palermo, and we were in the beautiful countryside at our Agritourismo, or “farm hotel”. The farm was an instant change of pace from anything I have experienced before. The sights, smells, and sounds of the Sicilian countryside are truly breathtaking. We were able to walk in fields nearby on our first day, and visit with some grazing sheep. Before dinner, a sheep’s milk ricotta demonstration was provided for our group. We were later able to taste fresh ricotta with our dinner. Some of the learning experiences in our one-week in Sicily included tours of facilities that produce products such as: olive oil, sundried tomatoes, wine, pasta, and fish. My favorite spot in Sicily was the region around Mt. Etna, and I can’t wait to visit again. The Mt. Etna area is very different than any other area on the island, in that it is lush and tropical and much cooler at night due to the elevation. The environment is perfect for the abundant pistachio trees that grow around the volcano. We visited the top of the volcano and took a short hike around some craters. I was able to buy local wildflower honey and some amazing pistachios to bring home to my relatives. The view from up there was amazing!

At the end of our week in Sicily, we flew from Catania to Vicenza in the north of Italy. The slow, relaxed pace of Sicily was replaced with the bustling commerce region that the area is known for, along with much cooler temperatures. It was very interesting to see how the northern foods are so distinctly different from the south.

Themes for our experience in the region included: cow’s milk cheeses (Asiago and Parmesan), soft-wheat breads, olive oil, wine, and pork sausage.  For two weeks we traveled by bus through the north of Italy, including Venice, Bologna, and Tuscany.  Each region included visits to producers of unique foods known to the area. We were fortunate to have been given a tour of the University of Bologna, known as the oldest university in the western world.  We also visited “Romeo and Juliet” castles in Verona, and the medieval town of Siena in Tuscany. As you can imagine, in order to pack in so many activities, we were up quite early every day, and not in bed until very late! In fact, every day included about three food tours, and some sightseeing of local towns.

After our tour of the north, we head south, back to Rome. I was able to visit the Vatican and tour the Coliseum on my last day in Italy. The lines were long and the weather was sweltering hot. But, by the time my friend and I made it into the Vatican, we were speechless. Everything about the museum is awe-inspiring.  The Sistine Chapel was so beautiful and I’m fortunate to have been able to visit it. Adding to the excitement of Rome was the fact that it was the second week of the World Cup, and fans were out in droves. Watching the World Cup in an ancient piazza on a giant tv screen with hundreds of soccer fans was an experience I’ll never forget.

To sum up my trip, I would say that I have learned a great deal about regional food practices of Italy. It is an invaluable experience to see where our food comes from and learn from the people who produce it. I only wish the trip could have lasted longer!

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First Stamp in my Passport

by: Kallie Sullivan

Having the opportunity to travel on a study abroad trip would not have been possible if not for the Bumper’s College as well as other scholarship donors. For these blessings I am extremely grateful. I applied for my very first passport and counted down the days on my planner. Explaining to friends and family why I chose to travel to Africa was the most challenging part of preparing. I found myself faced with the question as to “Why Africa?” This is difficult to explain. Simply put, I wanted to see something different from the sites of Europe. There will be a time in my life for that, but I wanted to see something that would change the way I saw my life. I wanted to share my days with people who lived a simple and harder life but managed to have so much joy. I did just that. I met countless individuals and families that inspired and challenged me.

As for what we did while abroad, the majority of our days were spent at Novos Horizontes, or New Horizons. New Horizons is a poultry operation that provides employment and nutrition for the impoverished Mozambique, and each group of students had different projects to help improve the productivity of the operation. Mozambique is a very poor country that is severely lacking in any kind of infrastructure. Dirt roads are the primary form of transportation anywhere with most families using bicycles to pedal heavy loads of lumber or produce to where they tend to go. Immense respect goes to the African mother who can carry a five gallon bucket of water on her head for miles while having a newborn baby strapped to her side. These people are strong and hard working, giving me a new appreciation for my way of life.

The days at Novos Horizontes were long with a lot of walking or being bumped around in the back of a truck, but we had wonderful excursions on the weekends. Seeing the beaches of Mozambique gave me the opportunity to check off a new body of water and to watch Dr. Keith Bramwell chase palm sized pink crabs across the beach. We kayaked in the ocean, sailed in primitive sailboats to a lagoon, hunted seashells, and toured the oldest European building in the Southern Hemisphere. Our last excursion took our group to South Africa where we went on three safaris, saw countless breathtaking creatures in a natural habitat, and ate the first good meal we had since landing in Mozambique. New foods were tasted (with repercussions of being sick for several days), new friendships were made, and the new experience of traveling abroad has deepened my desire to travel. I have now been to two continents other than North America thanks to our layover in London. The seven-hour layover was nowhere near enough time to explore, but I am grateful for the few hours I had. I am so grateful for every hour of this trip because I learned so much. I am very glad I chose Mozambique as my study abroad destination, and am so appreciative for this experience.

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A Summer in Mozambique

by: Ashley Rodman

Even though I had only traveled outside of the United States one other time before studying abroad in Mozambique, I developed the notorious sickness known as the “travel bug” somewhere along the way. After my experiences with the University of Arkansas’ (U of A) Faculty-Led Community Development in Mozambique Program, my desire to travel has not only grown, but shaped into a longing to experience new cultures while using my scientific background and expertise to aid those in need. The program allowed me to delve deeper into my academic interests by leading a month-long water quality testing project, all while working alongside other U of A students who also put their specialized academic skills to use and learning about a successful sustainable business model in a developing country.

The choice to study abroad with the U of A was something that I had wanted to pursue since transferring into the Bumpers College in 2012; however, the vast array of program choices were overwhelming until I became acquainted with the Faculty-Led Community Development in Mozambique Program. When I initially learned about this particular study abroad opportunity, I was under the impression that my major, Environmental, Soil, and Water Science, would not be openly accepted into the program. Soon after speaking to one of the faculty advisors, I found out that the opposite was true. In fact, the faculty encouraged me to apply. I learned that the program was open to all majors, and the faculty enthusiastically supported personalized student projects. Furthermore, the program would take place during the summer, allowing me to receive the last credits needed for me to graduate with my Bachelor of Science degree and return to the U of A in time to begin my graduate studies.

A few other students and I spent the spring semester organizing the water quality project that we would be doing while in Mozambique. We met multiple times as a group and with U of A faculty throughout the semester to gain expert opinions about how to plan our project and to purchase materials. The experience of developing a project allowed me to hone my organizational and leadership skills, as well as gain valuable contacts. Before long our group was boarding a plane to Africa to begin our summer abroad in Mozambique.

I did some light reading about the history of the country and its people before departing, but I was still unsure about what to expect when we arrived in Mozambique. I was soon immersed into the Mozambican culture as my peers and I hit the ground running working on our designated projects. Unique to the program, we worked with a sustainable poultry operation, known as New Horizons. Our water quality project was geared at testing different water quality parameters in the water sources used by New Horizons and by the company’s poultry outgrowers. While conducted our project, I learned about the hard work ethic and strong family and community values that Mozambicans cherish. It was easy to see that even when many of the outgrowers had little physical property, they were rich in pride for what they did have. It was inspiring to see the pleasure that the outgrowers took in their jobs and the respect they had for New Horizons. I realized the true meaning of “giving a hand up, not a hand out.” The outgrowers are improving their lives by their own wills, not by foreign aid or government assistance.

Learning how to cope with challenges that arose gave me insight into many of the things we take for granted in the United States. To start things off, a piece of equipment necessary to perform one of the water quality tests was lost in transit and was not available to purchase in Mozambique. Unlike in the United States, we did not have the option of using a laboratory or any sort of electronic technology to conduct our tests in or with. We had to carry all of our equipment to each water source—sometimes spaced long distances apart. We also discovered that purchasing water testing supplies, such as deionized water, was not an option. Within the second week we had used all of the deionized water I had brought to clean the water testing instruments, so we had to devise an alternate solution. Time management was another important skill that we soon found to be a challenge, as many Mozambicans do not hold time and the thought of deadlines as high as most Americans.

I realized the value of my education and educational opportunities in general while studying abroad. The importance of my education soon dawned on me when I saw that people were looking to me for advice about improving water quality in their areas. Many children and adults I met and saw were not given opportunities to attend school, let alone pursue higher degrees at a university level. It saddened me that there were so few educational opportunities, leading to a huge loss in potential human capital for the country of Mozambique. I will remember this as I pursue my master’s degree and draw on these memories to study harder and persevere in my field.

From traveling in Mozambique, I was educated about the historical background of the country and its past as a Portuguese colony fraught with ills of the slave trade. I interacting with locals in different regions of Mozambique when we haggled with venders at local markets, toured the streets of Mozambique Island, and visited an orphanage in Nampula. Our travels in South Africa allowed me to see the vast economic disparities found in many parts of Africa.

Overall, I am certain that the study abroad trip in Mozambique has shaped me more than I realize. It is my hope that my work in Mozambique was beneficial to New Horizons, the outgrowers, and the outgrower’s families. I hope that my work inspires future students to expand the water quality project that I initiated.  Not only did my time studying abroad in Africa allow me the opportunity to be immersed in another culture while having a multidisciplinary learning experience, it helped me realize the importance of education and sustainable approaches to lifting people out of poverty.

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Hakuna Matata

Post 5/5
by Victoria Maloch

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It means no worries for the rest of your days. So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Although I grew up on a farm and showed cattle, my absolute number one fear for almost my entire life has been chickens. I blame it on a bad experience with a 4-H Poultry Chain project, but that story is for another time. So there were definitely a lot of worries going into this trip. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it, but I knew that I had to get over my fear. Being on Team CrossFit brought me into close interaction with chickens every day and by the end of the trip I am happy to say that while my fear may not be completely gone, I am not nearly as terrified as I used to be! And let’s be honest, I didn’t have much of a choice but to grin and bear it since I decided to study abroad on a community development project that works with Novos Horizontes to help local poultry farmers create more sustainable business operations.

 

 

 

Reflecting on my time in Mozambique, I have realized the invaluable lessons I learned from the culture, the work, and the people.

The three most important lessons I learned are:

#1 Happiness comes from your attitude and who you surround yourself with, not what you have. Some of the happiest people I saw were those that had very little to their name.

#2 Work hard. You only get out of life what you put into it. Those that I saw succeeding in business and in life in Nampula were also the some of the hardest working people I met.

#3 Learning never stops. The Mozambiquans had a thirst for knowledge and a desire to gain whatever information they could from us that could help them better their production and business. I hope that my thirst for learning will always stay as strong as theirs. Maloch_Joy

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Pride Rock – AKA The Day We Stalked The Lions

Post 4/5
by Victoria Maloch

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After we said our goodbyes after three weeks in Nampula, we packed up our things and flew to South Africa. Everyone was sad that our trip was coming to a close, but we were also very excited to be going on a safari. As true Disney children of the 90s, it wasn’t uncommon to find one of us humming or bursting out in song to one of the Lion King songs. We couldn’t wait!

 

After landing in South Africa, we drove around three hours outside of Johannesburg to the National Park where we would be going on three safari rides. I was surprised by how cold it was. It was quite the shock to go from 80-90 degree weather in Mozambique to lows in the 30s in South Africa.

Our three safari rides could not have been any better. Our guide told us about “The Big Five” in Africa. The Big Five are the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the rhino, and the Cape buffalo. By the end of our safari we had not only seen tons of really interesting animals, but we had also spotted every animal in the Big Five except the elusive leopard.

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The most exciting part of our safari is hands down the day we followed four lions around (hence the title). The pride of lions was patrolling their territory. The safari guide was very cautious to stay out of their path and to allow them to go about their business. Even so, we were able to get as close as 30 feet away from them at one point! It was fascinating to see these creatures in the wild at such a close distance and at the same time completely terrifying, knowing what they were capable of doing.

After our last game drive we spent the rest of the time packing, thawing out our cold fingers and toes, and soaking in our last few hours in Africa.

 

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