Sorry for the delay in writing my first blog post—I have been fairly busy, and I just got internet connection in my dorm room for the first time today. Everyone should appreciate wireless internet…you don’t realize how important it is till it’s gone. I have internet now, but will have to pay for it (although, I don’t believe the price is too high). As much as I don’t like to believe it, not having internet in my room was pretty difficult. I am sorry for all those who I have not gotten back to or contacted because of the lack of internet…I promise to do that ASAP!
Anyway, South Africa.
South Africa is the most beautiful country I have EVER been to—breath-taking mountains, trees, oceans, flowers, etc. Everything here is stunning, including the people (it seems that they have the perfect gene pool here). No matter how many pictures I add to Facebook or this blog, South Africa needs to be witnessed in person in order to truly understand just how incredibly beautiful the country is.
As for what I have been up to in South Africa:
I arrived in Cape Town at about 11:30 pm on Monday the 20th after about 30 hours of traveling (from Philly to New York to Amsterdam to Cape Town). From Cape Town I traveled with AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study) to Stellenbosch. I arrived there at about 1 am on the 21st. It was a long, pretty uneventful travel. I am just getting over jet lag and sleep deprivation and finally am adjusting to the time here.
Once arriving, I participated in a few orientation events—nothing too special…Similar to American orientation, long and pretty boring. As for my dorm room, it is very spacious—I have my own bedroom and bathroom! I share a living area and a kitchen with my three roommates—Juliana, Emmy, and Colleen (they are all from different states in America and are also traveling through AIFS). They are so nice! All the Americans in AIFS (17 of us) are so nice, and we all get along very well! I am REALLY happy I decided to travel through an organization. Students who came here who are just on an exchange program or something similar to that are kind of on their own—through AIFS, I have all my questions answered through my extremely helpful and wonderful resident director, Hestea.
Stellenbosch University is fairly large, but manageable…it gets smaller and smaller everyday as I understand the layout more. Stellenbosch University is in Stellenbosch the town…it seems the town is very much like a University town (similar to Pitt but not as city-like). Stellenbosch is very historical so all the buildings are very cool looking. There is also a decent sized mall right in town (very helpful miscellaneous things I need).
So far, I have met many international students. The South African students are not yet moved in (only the freshman are). The residence halls here are somewhat like American sororities/fraternities—so first-years must apply, be accepted and then have orientation with their hall (similar to rush week). So all week long from 6 am to about 11 pm you hear chants, music, etc. from all of these different resident hall groups. As for international students, it is really awesome meeting people from all around the world—France, Norway, Finland, Singapore, Germany, China, different countries in Africa, etc. Everyone speaks English (but I do feel bad not knowing a second language here since every other country does).
Thanks to a journal that I have been keeping due to Rachel’s demands, I have a pretty detailed list of what I have done everyday so far.
This past Friday I went to the international dinner. There was a lot of food, music, some African dancers, and of course people from all around the world. Earlier that day, some friends and I went to an outdoor café called Tastebuds. The food here is SO good—although I have not yet eaten traditional South African food (haha). A lot of the food is American or other ethnicities (Italian, Thai, etc.). But whatever it is, I have not had a bad meal here yet. My roommates and I have been trying to cook dinner based on a limited experience but it has been working out fairly well. Sometimes we have a few flats come together and we do a potluck sorta thing.
Saturday a few friends and I decided to try out one of the residence hall “sororities”. We all were given a shirt to wear so we all matched, then we had to participate in this recycling fashion show. It seemed really awesome for Freshman, but not for international students who would only be in Stellenbosch for about 5 months. Needless to say, my friends and I snuck out of that event after about 90 minutes. From there we went to a wine parade. Stellenbosch is a wine town… there are vinyards everywhere (the wine is also only about $4 a bottle). Later that day was a wine festival where you only paid about $3 to wine taste an endless amount of wines.
Sunday I traveled to Cape Town! We went to Cliffton beach—it was absolutely beautiful (mountains on one side of the beach and the ocean on the other). It was stunning but very hot and the sun is powerful. Everyone got pretty burnt—but I am proud to say that I did not get too burnt.
Today is mostly a free day. Yay! I don’t start classes till next Monday.
Living in Stellenbosch is awesome, but is not an accurate view of South Africa. Stellenbosch is primarily Afrikaans—mostly white and wealthy. South Africa as a whole is very poor. The wealth disparity is crazy. When traveling into Cape Town, we drove past thousands of homes made out of sheets of metal. Once you enter Cape Town, the environment changes and you are once again surrounded with wealth. To put it into a few words, there was a sign when entering Cape Town: written in spray paint it said, “this city only works for a few”. It is very true, while I am so privileged to be able to stay in Stellenbosch, the unfortunate reality is that the average South African citizen cannot. I hope to learn more about the economic state and the disparity between people during my classes and the LSCE program.
Overall, South Africa has been great. While it is sometimes difficult to adjust to certain aspects of life, I know I couldn’t have chosen a better place to Study Abroad.
Until next time!,