By: Samuel Bramley
We arrived back on campus, feeling well-rested and relaxed after our first week off, ready to tackle anything thrown at us. While we knew hard work was soon to come, there was a wonderful sense of peace and belonging being back in the bush. The noise of the city in our off week had come as an unwelcome rediscovery for many, and the stillness of nature was happily embraced upon our return. With our FGASA exam just around the corner, we were thrown into the deep end without a snorkel, with lectures on Fish, Birds, Mammals, Animal behaviour, and Conservation. Our return to Bushwise also signalled an increase in temperature, caused mainly by the friction of our pens on paper. There would be no time for naps as we settled back into the academic routine. As a rolling stone gathers no moss, we gathered no sleep. Every waking hour was spent toiling away at our workbooks, with sweat on our brows and ink on our fingers.
It’s easy in life to take many things for granted, especially the things that we feel to be the very basics. We were given a stark reminder of this as we suddenly found ourselves with no running water one fine afternoon. You don’t realize quite how valuable a shower is, until you’ve been without one for 24 hours in the dusty Lowveld. Sweat makes an extremely effective adhesive for the fine particles of dirt hanging in the air, and we could all feel the layers of grime building up as the day wore on, this combined with cramming for tests made for a very uncomfortable combination. But we were quickly given relief, in the form of high-class en-suite bathrooms across the road at the beautiful Mahlahla game lodge. It was like stepping into another world, the gorgeous rooms and facilities took our breaths away, and we half expected to see Gordon Ramsey yelling profanities at the kitchen staff.
From full days of game drives through Makalali, to our own practice drives on campus, there was little time to be distracted. Every evening we seemed to fall into bed having learned twice as much as the day before. Not only were we growing smarter and more competent by the day, but we were loving every second of it! For those who have not spent extended time in nature, it’s hard to understand the serenity it provides. Your mind is cleared of all obstacles, it’s just you, and the vast wilderness. It may have been easy for us to take water for granted, but I can assure you that nothing but pure gratitude is felt in our hearts every time we see the sun dipping below the African horizon. We are a special few who have chosen to make this our home, and we can’t wait to begin our new lives!