I loved every Minute, sometimes with Giggles and Tears, but overall good Vibes.
India is originally from Switzerland but has been living in the United Kingdom since the age of three. At school, she doesn’t always get space to write about her passions such as the environment. Feeling not enough is being done for the planet, she took a gap year. She did a Creative Writing internship in Cape Town with an environmental nonprofit. She contributed to their work by writing about the environment and sustianability to get people involved. Now, she writes about her experiences.
When I first told people I was going to Cape Town for three months, I got a variety of reactions. ‘Bring pepper spray’ lots of people joked. Others glared at me and asked whether I had taken self-defence classes before leaving. When people found out I will work for an environmental NGO, some people congratulated me. Some rolled their eyes and laughed, and others began calling me ‘Miss Green’.
So, from this, I instantly knew what many of my close friends and relatives thought. I knew that I was doing something that would not only benefit me but also contribute to the environment. This is what I have striven to achieve during my internship here in Cape Town. All my efforts have gone into raising awareness for our environmental struggles, and how to find solutions for them. I’ve planted trees with my own hands and watered millions of plants at the Greenpop nursery. I have truly gotten down and dirty.
I arrived in Cape Town a few days before my creative writing internship at Greenpop began. This gave me the perfect amount of time, to find my feet, get used to the South African heat, and get my journalistic mind ready for my new tasks. The first day I walked to the office, I got lost among the beautiful surroundings of the bright houses of Bo-Kaap and the general ‘newness’ of this place I would call home for the next three months.
Walking into the Greenpop office, was an experience like no other. It was like a breath of fresh air, and unlike any office I had ever come across before. The desks were made from old wooden pallets, there was an abundance of plants that lit up the room. I was greeted by smiling faces. So this, I thought, is the creative haven of an Environmental NGO. It was exactly how I hoped it would be.
What I Do during my creative writing Internship in Cape Town
Initially, my tasks consisted of liaising with Zoe, my wonderful supervisor, about what content to publish on the blog. She then gave me utter freedom to come up with themes for the blog posts. It was up to me, with her help, of course, to draft new blog posts, edit, proof read, and re-draft blog posts. Whilst this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is what I love doing.
I studied English A-Level (matric level) back home in London. I remember essays were always the tasks I enjoyed the most. As a young child, I would write stories, school speeches and soliloquies. Sometimes no one ever read them, but it gave me a creative outlet. My English teacher would now say that I have a way with words. I love putting a blog post together, playing around with the words, and figuring out the structure of an essay. I’m a word nerd, I guess.
Check India’s blog post about Conscious Consumerism
My other supervisor, Maddie, was also amazing in introducing me to a whole new field of work. During my first month, I assisted her with creating mailers that would be sent out via email to the whole data base of people that had signed up to some of Greenpop’s festivals, such as the Festival of Action, and a Two Oceans Marathon. Therefore, I was also partly involved with the fundraising sector of Greenpop, which gave my experience here even more scope. Another task I was involved with was researching articles for the Bright Green News, which is a monthly newsletter, that provides Greenpop’s subscribers with little nuggets of positive environmental news.
What have I learnt: personal and professional
Throughout this experience, I have learnt numerous things, mainly about myself but also about others around me whilst living in Cape Town.
Firstly, believe in yourself. Take pride to know that what you are doing is important, no matter how small the task may be. I also felt as though I was adding value to the organisation. This motivated me and inspired me, even more, to do my best every day.
This was my first time living abroad alone, and it was tough to get used to it at the start. Knowing that my mum wasn’t going to cook me dinner after a long day, or wash my clothes, was all new to me.
However, going by a quote that I like, ‘I learnt how to be strong alone’. This meant that I had to learn how to depend on myself, and not on my family. Actually, this experience was a gift, as I now feel more prepared to tackle starting University in September. I have seen so many new things that I would never have experienced in London. I am more comfortable to travel alone and have learnt some tricks to overcome any anxious moments I may have.
In a professional sense, this creative writing internship taught me a lot about my writing style. As I read a lot of blogs myself, I sort of knew how the tone and the formality of a blog should sound. However, I had never written for a blog that is read by a large audience. Hence, I learnt about SEO (search engine optimization), as well as how to really grab the reader’s attention with word density, sentence structure and lots more. Similarly, I was encouraged to communicate with my team if I experienced any delays in my tasks and the respective deadlines. I also learned how to manage my time effectively.
Highlights of my stay in Cape Town as an Intern
Cape Town has an abundance of cool weekend activities, bars to check out and chill at, live music, and stunning scenery. I am definitely a city girl, but the more time I spent here in nature, such as at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or in the Platbos Forest, I am slowly but surely beginning to adore and appreciate the wonders of nature even more. I say that, but I have a love for the ocean and being on the beach, like nothing else. Surfing in Muizenberg was a huge highlight for me, as I got to fully experience the surfer vibe that Cape Town encapsulates. Naturally, some of my highlights also included trying new foods, exploring little boutiques at the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturdays, and generally just being with a new group of people.
At Greenpop, we would have lunches together on Friday, as two team members would cook together for the whole office. It sounded daunting, but trust me, it turns out to be a lovely bonding experience. I was the first intern of our bunch to cook. I immediately felt more involved with the Greenpop team than before. It reminds us to be conscious and grateful when we cook at home, and appreciate the team effort of cooking for 20 odd people.
Don’t get me wrong, at the start of being in a new place, so far from home, it can be overwhelming. However, I strongly advise that you find things to do that replicate your usual habits and patterns that you practice at home. For instance, on the second day I was in Cape Town, I sought out a yoga studio that I could go to and relax my mind. Also, buying foods that you recognize from home is also a treat, and I continued to do so until I left Cape Town. For me, I would buy a chicken pie and make some mashed potato. Food, as they say, has the power to comfort like nothing else.
Work, as one expects, always presents a challenge here or there. For me, it was about pacing myself with my tasks and not trying to finish everything in one day. Sometimes, all the interns would need to get up and help pack the transporter for a trip someone from Greenpop was going on. Be prepared to be all hands on deck when that happens. When it does, it’s often done faster and with less struggle (lifting big boxes down a small staircase), than with fewer hands.
Overall, I feel extremely grateful to have been part of such an inclusive and big, green family. It taught me a lot about how to consciously deal with waste at home, as well as selecting the right foods to be putting in my body. Even researching the topics I wrote about for the blog, turned out to be a huge learning aspect as I was taking in so much new information. All I can say is, this trip was largely challenging, but it exposed me to a whole new side of adulthood that I needed to experience before going to Uni, and before turning 20. That’s when adulthood gets real. I loved every minute of the new experiences, sometimes with giggles and tears, but overall good vibes.
Other interesting Reads
- 8 Reasons why an International Internship is great for You
- Meet the Interns: Daire, writing and communications intern in Cape Town
- 7 Reasons to do an internship in Cape Town
- My content writing Internship with Penda