Blog Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

Living in Cape Town, South Africa

My time spent in Cape Town in 2013 represents for me a period of great uncertainty, introspection, and change. I had just graduated with my Bachelors degree after having intentionally (twice) extended my tenure at Grand Valley (I graduated with over 150 credits). One simple question loomed over me like a dark cloud: what was I going to do with my life?

Plans for post-graduation seemed to change on a weekly basis. Was I going to study for the MCAT and apply for med school? Would I enter the corporate world? Could I even get a job if I tried? The daunting “real world” faced by so many of my cohorts was speeding toward me like a runaway train.

Towards the end of my final semester at Grand Valley, I sought the advice of one of my Anatomy professors. Although I did not necessarily know what I was to do with my chosen major (Biomedical Science), I did know that I enjoyed life sciences, particularly Anatomy. He described to me his similar path of indecisiveness, where he found himself on a plane to Johannesburg to start a Masters degree in Anatomy. He essentially helped me to talk myself out of med school, and planted the seed in my head for South Africa.

Making the decision to move to Cape Town, South Africa

It’s hard to look back and remember just how naive I was about the country; I honestly can’t remember what I didn’t know. All I knew was what my professor told me – that I could get a Masters and even a PhD that was extremely affordable (and in my mind postpone the need to answer the question of what to do with my life). He set up some communication with various contacts at the University of the Witwatersrand, thus launching my quest to pursue higher education in South Africa.

By mid summer after graduation, the contacts at Wits started to fizzle out, but I was so far down the path now that I decided not to give up. On a whim I emailed several professors at the University of Cape Town.

When Googling Cape Town, I caught the first glimpses of the place that would change my life’s trajectory forever. Why had I even wasted my time on Johannesburg? Cape Town looked in the pictures to be heaven on earth. A giant mountain and the ocean. What could be better? (To be fair, my professor had actually warned me about Cape Town, saying that I’d likely not get much actual studying done and probably spend all my time at the beach. He would turn out to be partially correct).

Fast forward to a cold Tuesday in January of 2013, and I’ve just received my student visa. I left for Cape Town two days later.

Arriving in Cape Town

As previously mentioned, I entered my time in Cape Town with not a clue of what I would do with my life (I still don’t entirely know). Cape Town 2013, however, would prove to be my most formative year to date.

I’ll spare you the details of my education and adventures, those are for another time. The bottom line is that within a year of living in Cape Town, I made some lifelong friends, met the woman that would become my wife, and set my life down a trajectory that I am still fulfilling as I write this. In addition to its meaning to me personally, Cape Town also is the beginnings of our love story. I grew not only as an individual, but our love also grew. From the day my now wife (who visited me in Cape Town in December, 2013) and I returned to the U.S. from Cape Town, we have been doing everything in our power to figure out a viable path to return.

Back to the United States

Fast forward again to the moment that Cape Town became a reality. February of 2016 and I found myself unemployed and again questioning the path my life would take. It was in that moment, perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me, that Leeann and I decided Cape Town or bust. We would move back to Cape Town by years’ end and figure out the details later. We booked flights 3 months later (still lacking many of the details).

Moving back to Cape Town, South Africa

Here I am now, writing this post overlooking Table Mountain and the Cape Town City Center from our new Flat. I still can’t say for certain where life will take us, but I can say that we are marching towards a future together.

If there is anything I took away from this beautiful city in 2013, its that of hope. Like many places, maybe more than some, Cape Town is not without its issues. Much of the population lives on a dollar a day, and within the small city limits you’ll find the highest income inequality. The resounding sense of hope that I see transcending that, however, is what has brought us back. I learned about myself in this city. I’m hoping that both Leeann and I will continue to learn, to grow, and to continue down the path towards a meaningful existence that we promised to each other in our wedding vows.

At the end of the day, Table Mountain represents it best for me. Whenever things seem bad, or I’m feeling down, I just look up at that gorgeous mountain rising out of the middle of the city. Table Mountain remains unchanged since before Cape Town was ever even a dream, and it will remain long after, ever watching over land and ocean below. Here we are now, two insignificant specs trying to find our own path in the shadow of that mountain.

Here’s to life & the pursuit of happiness.

~ Max

P.S. If you need further convincing as to why we are here (and why you should come too), peruse the photos below from my 2013 adventures.

Cape Town, South Africa

My first apartment in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

View from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Cape Town, South Africa

View from Lion’s Head

Cape Town, South Africa

View from Devil’s Peak

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Hike: Table Mountain-Skeleton Gorge Route – The Passport Pair
    November 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    […] Cape Town is amazing. […]

  • Reply
    Hike: Lion’s Head Mountain – The Passport Pair
    November 17, 2016 at 11:11 am

    […] Cape Town has a pretty epic skyline. It is not a skyline of tall man made buildings, but a line of distinct mountains. Table Mountain is the famous, flat centrepiece. To the left, there is Devil’s Peak (don’t let the name fool you, it is amazing). And to the right, there is Lion’s Head, which is significantly lower than the previous two peaks. […]

  • Reply
    Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park – The Passport Pair
    January 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    […] our friend, Cari, decided she was coming to South Africa to visit us, we agreed that a road trip was a necessity during her time here. After much research, Kgalagadi […]

  • Reply
    Namibia – The Passport Pair
    January 26, 2017 at 8:30 am

    […] was but a blip on my radar. I knew next to nothing of the country, other than it was due north of Cape Town, was known for its sand dunes, and Anthony Bourdain ate ostrich eggs there once. I didn’t […]

  • Reply
    Booking flights – The Passport Pair
    January 30, 2017 at 7:15 am

    […] free. We are already going to London and Scotland next June for around 10 days, with plans to go to Cape Town later in the summer as well. Rather than flying to London and back, only to fly to Cape Town a few […]

  • Reply
    10 things I love about Spanish cuisine – The Passport Pair
    January 30, 2017 at 7:35 am

    […] some of the world’s finest restaurants. Astrid y Gaston in Lima, Maido in Lima, La Colombe in Cape Town, the list goes on. When dining at these restaurants, you know you are about to eat great food. The […]

  • Reply
    African Roadtrip: Day 1 – The Passport Pair
    February 1, 2017 at 6:38 am

    […] had been in Cape Town for 2 nights/1 day and we set off our 10 day road trip. Our main goal was to get to Victoria Falls […]

  • Reply
    Life Announcement! – The Passport Pair
    February 1, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    […] officially can now announce that we are moving to Cape Town, South Africa in […]

  • Reply
    The Journey – The Passport Pair
    February 2, 2017 at 9:11 am

    […] months of planning and years of dreaming, we were finally headed back to Cape Town, South Africa. This time, we were traveling to Cape Town as a married […]

  • Reply
    Hermanus, South Africa – The Passport Pair
    February 5, 2017 at 4:57 am

    […] of the things we love most about Cape Town is all of the great small towns in the surrounding areas. Hermanus is a quick 1.5 (or 2 hours via […]

  • Reply
    Walker Bay Adventures: Sea Kayaking – The Passport Pair
    February 5, 2017 at 5:05 am

    […] spent the weekend in Hermanus, because of its close proximity to Cape Town, with the sea kayaking as our main activity. Though there are a few companies that offer this, we […]

  • Reply
    Stellenbosch – The Passport Pair
    February 5, 2017 at 5:18 am

    […] is a small town about 45 minutes drive inland from Cape Town. The transformation of the landscape begins gradually as you drive out onto the Cape Flats, with […]

  • Reply
    African Roadtrip: Day 9 & 10 – The Passport Pair
    February 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    […] was really our first extended time together. We met in the summer of 2013 when Maxwell was living in Cape Town and we had three weeks in person to meet, date, and commit to being in a long distance […]

  • Reply
    Boulders Beach – The Passport Pair
    February 7, 2017 at 11:34 am

    […] Africa. These penguins are on everyone’s list of essential sights to see while visiting Cape Town. It lives up to the hype, because Boulders Beach is something special! If you are an animal lover […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.