My life between the UK and South Africa

My life between the UK and South Africa

This blog is by Daisy Gleeson, a Bushwise student who hails from London and has travelled between the UK and South Africa a few times in her life. Daisy shares her experience leaving a 9-5 job to pursue her dream of becoming an African safari guide.

Read time: 5 mins

Between the UK and South Africa

The author, Daisy, and friend sit on a game viewer while taking a short break during a drive.  

My first time in South Africa was in 2003, when I was six years old. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to go between the UK and South Africa more times than I can count. My parents grew up in Zimbabwe and I have family that live in Africa. 

I grew up just outside of London, in the UK. When I was 17, I left school and entered the world of full-time employment. I worked within the hospitality, retail, insurance and service provider industries, but I couldn’t shake feeling unfulfilled. I started to wonder whether there was more to life than just working a 9-5 job to get by.

A group of happy Bushwise students on a game drive. Some of our students have split their lives between the UK and South Africa. 

My parents split their time between the UK and South Africa (they have a house in George). Following a trip to visit them a few years ago, I knew that I had to find a way to come to South Africa and do something that was more than just a holiday. I started doing research online; not entirely sure what I was looking for, but hoping that I would find something.

Initially, I liked the idea of a volunteer project, but the ones I found only lasted a few weeks, and I knew that wasn’t going to be enough time. During my online search, I came across Bushwise and I bookmarked the webpage in 2020. I kept coming back to it, reading the information over and over again, each time becoming more certain that this was the path I wanted to take.

I knew Bushwise was for me

Daisy and her friend Heidi smiling at the camera in the Bushwise campus. 

Due to Covid, my next trip between the UK and South Africa was only in February 2022; by this time, I had thoroughly researched Bushwise and their professional field guiding course. I sent my dad a message before I arrived explaining that I knew this was what I wanted to do, and he agreed that we could discuss it when I arrived.

As my older sister had followed a more traditional route by going to university and then into a career, I was unsure about how they would take the news that I wanted to spend a year in South Africa studying to become a field guide. 

However, when I spoke with them about it, they were so thrilled I didn’t even need to convince them at all. In fact, my dad was so jealous that I was almost certain he was going to try and join me and do the course as well. 

My parents supported this huge decision

The author, Daisy, smiling at the camera with three other students. Daisy grew up travelling between the UK and South Africa.

Whilst I was there, we stayed in the Pilansberg for a few days. On safari, I was looking at things in a new light. How did the guide conduct themselves? How did they get to the position they are in now? What is it really like to be a field guide? I was so inspired by the knowledge they had, and how they could notice things that most people wouldn’t even look twice at.

Something I had not even considered before was that I could not actually remember a time when I had been on a safari with a female guide. I started to wonder why this was, and whether it would be difficult to succeed in an industry I had perceived to be dominated by men.

Finally making my move between the UK and South Africa

 Bushwise students exploring a rocky outcrop next to a dam.

I knew that the next course was going to start in July, so I didn’t have much time to spend worrying about the realisation that in just a few months time, I was going to leave life as I knew it behind and embark on a completely new adventure. 

When I came back to the UK in March, I handed in my resignation at the job I’d been at for the past four years. The people there had become my family; but they understood that I was leaving to do something that I had dreamed of doing for a long time.

One of the main concerns for both my parents and myself was how safe it would be for a young woman to travel to a different country alone. I looked into the Hoedspruit area, where I knew I would be staying, and reached out to a few of the other international students who I knew were going to be at the same campus as me. We all had the same questions, but we were all so excited about the prospect of living and studying in the African bush.

One thing that might convince you to move between the UK and South Africa - the incredible sunsets!

Now that I’ve been at Bushwise for nearly two months, I couldn’t be happier that I took the plunge and entered into the world of the unknown. Every day is different and full of new knowledge and experiences beyond what I could have ever imagined. I’m so grateful that the African bush is my new office. 

It’s also exciting to be a part of the first Bushwise field guide course where there are more women than men, which to me, is a great indication that the future of the guiding world is shifting in a positive way.

Isn’t it time for you to make the leap and change your career? Apply for a Bushwise course today and soon, like Daisy, you too could make your dreams come true.