Sunday, 29 January 2012

January 29th

Okay so today is January 29th, and I have a lot of catching up to do… So first I want to say I have never experienced such beautiful weather in my life, because it has been 85 degrees and sunny for like 6 days straight. There is also another weird thing about the weather, from 4-8pm these Southwestern winds pick up really strong and it’s only during these times which are quite unusual. So since the last time I’ve met many new friends from America but not in our program… Chris Yarnell is a freemover from PA and he’s here completely on his own, I could never do that because I need help planning and I like having a group of people with me, and then I’ve met Garrett and Victoria who are in the CIEE group and hang out with us on occasion.  So, a few days ago we had a campus tour, and the campus is enormous, it is so much bigger than Assumption and we walk EVERYWHERE! Today I’m going for a run with my friend Halie and I’m pumped to get a workout going! Ohh, so during orientation they originally scheduled a screening of the movie District 9, (which if you don’t know me, its my all time FAVORITE movie) but it got switched to some AIDS documentary. So, yesterday we took a trip to Cape Town on a bus tour, and we drove through some black townships and they live in absolute poverty, and if you’ve seen District 9, the shacks in that are identical to the shacks in these townships, so I definitely consider myself fortunate for what opportunities I’m provided. Cape Town is a gorgeous city, sitting on the water, we had lunch on Victoria Wharf and went to the beach for a couple of hours, and on Wednesday we get to go to the beach for the whole day! A couple days ago, we went to a restaurant called Moyo, and its located in one of the wineries outside of Stellenbosch, and it was absolutely amazing. They had all kinds of wine and food, and tribeswomen came around and painted white flowers on our faces, and the music was spectacular, the venue really reminded me of Animal Kingdom in Disney World, because it was absolutely tropical and beautiful. So I have officially planned out my schedule for this semester and I am taking classes only on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, which means a 4 day weekend for me which is extraordinary. I am taking Negotiating Transition, Peacemaking, History of South Africa, Jewelry Design, and  Theology of Post-Apartheid South Africa, and they all sound like great, unique classes, and even one of them is taught by a UN negotiator. Ohh and my view from my window is absolutely amazing, I can see the mountains that wrap around Stellenbosch, and they look like a backdrop because they are too stunning. Finally, last night we went to a restaurant in Stellenbosch called the Trumpet Tree, and its located outside under a tree, and mist is constantly released from the tree, its amazing! Ohh and I will be Deep Water Shark Cage Diving February 12th, so I will post pictures of that and everything else soon enough, but its difficult because you have to pay for the internet here, which is definitely an interesting feature.
Totsiens, (Until we meet again: Afrikaans)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

24th January 2012

            So, today was our first official day in South Africa and our first day of orientation. We met with Hestea and Janien, (our helpers for our international journey and our guardians) in the Sasol Art Museum on campus, which is filled with art from all sorts of local artists, and the pieces are very interesting but strange. We went over safety, culture shock, paperwork, and many miscellaneous topics, then we went to Neelsen’s Student Centre which is where we can use our campus cash to get lunch and dinner. We are given $150 or about 860 Rand. Then, we had time to go to the Eikestad Mall, where we were allowed to exchange money, which was actually a very long process. Then we walked to the Pick and Pay which is a local grocery store and purchased items for the apartment. That was quite a bit overwhelming, because many of their products are different, especially their dairy products which are not refrigerated like eggs, milk, and cream. One of the big things about Stellenbosch is that the campus is huge! I would say it’s about 10X the size of Assumption, and you walk absolutely everywhere, my mom would be very proud of me because of all the walking. Another shock is that driving is opposite the United States, so I almost myself killed, because I am so accustomed to looking left and then right before crossing the street, but it’s the exact opposite. Also, walking through the grocery store you walk on the left side instead of the right. Another big thing in South Africa is that a lot of people walk barefoot everywhere, in stores, shops, restaurants, classes, and even bars! It’s definitely something that I could get used to. Another thing is that everything is really REALLY cheap here, you can get a good meal and drink for 30-40R which is between $4-5. So, we all took a nap after going grocery shopping and went to a bar that night called Bohemia, it was a lot of fun and such a good time to bond, we all headed back early, because we had to get up a 7am the next morning for full time orientation with ALL of the International students, I have met a couple of Germans and French people already and the campus is extremely diverse.

22nd/23rd January 2012

Today is the day I head off to the beautiful country of South Africa. My parents dropped me off at Logan Airport in Boston around 3pm; there I met David, Meghan, and Melissa. We chatted excitedly and watched the Patriots game before boarding our flight to Amsterdam. Our flight was about 6 ½ hours but it seemed a lot longer, because I could not fall asleep.
When we arrived at Amsterdam we were walking in a row and some German guy yelled at us for not walking in a straight line and that we took up space. When we got to our next terminal, all of the rest of the AIFS students were waiting. It was extremely overwhelming at first, because you were trying to get to know everyone’s names, and it seems that people who flew out of the same airport had already formed good bonds with one another. After introductions we boarded our flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town, and this flight was almost 12 hours! But, surprisingly it went a lot faster because I slept for about 7-8 hours of the 12, and I was sitting next to a Dutch couple who were very affectionate to each other, which was a little uncomfortable. The funny thing with them is that the one time I got up to use the bathroom they scrambled to go to the bathroom too, because they were either too timid or too polite to awake me to ask for me to let them through.            
So anyways we arrived at South Africa at about 10:30pm and it was very nice, about 70̊ F which was a welcome surprise. We quickly departed for Stellenbosch and on the bus ride; I could see the hundreds of shantytowns that lay amongst the Cape Town outlying area. Also, there were many vineyards lit up on the drive down, because Stellenbosch is huge for their wine lands. We arrived at Concordia where Hestea De Wet, our RD, introduced us to our rooms, which are very cozy, we each have our own bedroom and bathroom, and we share a kitchen/common room area. My roomies are Dara, Melissa, and Lindsay and they’re all very sweet! We also got phone minutes to be able to contact our parent with news of our arrival, which made me very teary, because I am a little homesick which isn’t surprising. Then, we all unpacked and showered, because I was really stinky from being on an airplane for about 24 hours in the same wardrobe. Then, we went to bed as soon as we could, because we had to get up bright and early for the first day of orientation that awaited us!