This letter is written by Sumanth Bramdutt, an AFS South Africa alum who studied abroad in Thailand on a school-year program. Read about how he looks back on his year abroad!

WOW! What a year it has been. I feel so overwhelmed and I feel I have gained an entire new perspective in life. I have definitely become a lot more confident and enthusiastic. I have made memories that I will cherish for a lifetime and friends that are now like family to me. I cannot express how grateful I am for such an extraordinary life-changing experience.

Sumanth with his classmates

I will look back to this year and think to myself what would my life had become if it weren’t for this year? – I seriously mean it. It has inspired me to achieve greater things in life that seem like something out of a fairy-tale… or something I would have never imagined or had a vision for in my life.

I spent my last days in Thailand traveling around my city, which I miss so much. My host school were very sad to see me go. My friends at school made me a special gift, which was extremely thoughtful of them. I also arranged giftbags with candy and a flag of South Africa for all my classmates, friends and teachers. After I had said goodbye to all my friends and teachers, it was the time to say good bye to my host family. After big hugs and sad farewells, it was time to say goodbye. My host family and my actual family have developed a close relationship and they will surely visit us and we them.

Sumanth with his AFS friend Mora from Argentina

At the end-of-stay orientation, we discussed the ups and downs of the year and what we have learnt. We also learnt how to grow as humans and how to be a positive influence and role model to others. I learnt important lessons from this year, ones that I will cherish and reflect on forever. I feel that I have developed and determined a clear vision in my life. 

At first when I arrived back home, it felt completely weird to be back in South Africa. The air, the surroundings, the buildings, the atmosphere, the people, the pot-holes… Nevertheless, my family is happy to see me. I have settled back into school since I have arrived. We work on a completely different schedule so it takes time to adapt back as a member of South Africa. I was also asked to give a feedback to the school at the Achievers Assembly, so that is something I look forward to doing. My parents also advise me of common South African way of doing things, so it takes time to get used to it all again.

Overall, it has been the best experience of my life and I cannot wait to travel overseas again and explore this incredible journey that lies ahead of me. 

I would like to personally thank those who made this experience possible for me, AFS JHB and PMB, my parents, my teachers at school and God for his protective hand always guiding me.

Sumanth with his family back in South Africa