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Living my wildest dreams: A Belgian girl in the South African bushveld

This blog was written by Rose Braeckman, a Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. Each student takes a turn as camp manager, and writing a blog is part of the experience.


3 min read 


Hello, and welcome to my blog post! My name is Rose Braeckman, a Belgian girl in the bush of South Africa!

 

How did I end up here? Let me tell you this little story.


As a child, I have always been passionate about animals and nature. Even though I am 30 years old, I still have that inner child living within me. The kid who loves observing nature from up-close and is still mind blown every time by what it is able to do, create and adapt to.

 

Which is what lead me to studying Agro- & Biotechnology, with a specialisation in animal care at university in Belgium. I still remember very clearly how in my first year, I immediately went to a student meeting to get all of the information on how to do my internship abroad. Small detail about this, the meeting was apparently only meant for third-year students. Whoops!


I decided to stay and listened carefully because I knew that was what I wanted to do: travel to the African continent to learn everything about the wildlife and nature in that amazing place. And so, by the time my third year finally arrived, I had managed to find a way to complete my internship and thesis in Zimbabwe, at a rescue, rehabilitation and conservation orphanage for wildlife.



The feeling was amazing: I finally made it! I also knew, after this experience of working with these beautiful animals in captivity, that my dream was to work with and for the animals in the wild. However, due to Covid-19, I was back in Belgium and I had started working with a veterinary, having to take care of sick animals day in and day out. The urge to go back to Africa was growing in me more than ever, so the search for a way back there began.

 

For years, my family, friends and partner all knew that I wanted to go to Africa to realise my dream, and they were actively supporting me in pursuing my dream. But sadly, I was faced with a series of misfortunes and heartbreaks that stopped me in my tracks. First heartbreak was when I lost my 17-year-old dog, who was both the love of my life and my best friend. His passing happened shortly after learning that my mother was gravely sick and she saw no other way out but by going through with euthanasia, a very heavy but brave decision that broke the rest of my heart and that of my family. My pretty amazing (little) life became a nightmare.


The long anticipated trip to South Africa that my three sisters and I had planned on taking with our mom had to wait. Although a year later, we still went on that trip, with our dad. Before leaving, I asked my angels and the universe to give me a sign and help me find my way back to Africa. During the trip, we encountered all of these amazing guides and trackers that I started talking to, until one day I met a Dutch guide. They say “sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can.”



We spoke for a long time and I asked him all the questions I could think off on how he got here, on how to become a field guide and that is when he mentioned the name Bushwise. After our conversation, I spent hours looking at the website of Bushwise, reading everything I could read on the programs they offered and I immediately fell in love with the field guiding course. This course was everything I ever wanted to learn, all in one place. I felt like I was dreaming. While we were still in South Africa, I created a powerpoint presentation to explain to my sisters and my dad what my plan was.

 

And so here I am today, a professional field guide apprentice, living in a tent 24/7 in the middle of the South African bush, realising a childhood dream! Learning everything about nature, from the sky and clouds, to the stars, from the wildlife, to the trees, while making new friends for life. I love to learn something new every day and that is exactly what I’m doing here.



Driving around the bush with these amazing people and in this mind blowing scenery that is surrounding us everyday is definitely the best experience I could have ever dreamed of. Cradled in the heart of nature, it keeps me close to my mom who was the person that pushed me to follow my dreams. She also taught me all about essential oils and alternative medicine, so learning about the traditional uses of trees and plants in the nature, I know she is very proud and happy for me, while keeping an eye on me from up above – like she will always do.


Live your wildest dreams with Bushwise! Apply for one of our courses here.


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