I cannot believe that I have been here for two weeks already. Time is flying by. I can’t wait to begin my classes tomorrow (finally…I haven’t had classes for almost two months). However, I know once classes begin I am going to be so busy and time will fly by faster. While I am SO excited for all the South African excursions/activities/etc. in the future, I have learned that when I am here (and hopefully I will take this value back to the states) I need to live in the moment. Just like all parents, my mom and dad were always adamant about living in the moment, but for the first time I feel like I am actually doing that. I love it.
Anyway, since I have yet to start classes I am still not in a daily routine. While I am adjusting well to the relaxed South African lifestyle, I am definitely ready to develop some sort of regular schedule. Tomorrow I begin my LSCE (Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement) program. LSCE was a huge reason as to why I chose traveling with AIFS to South Africa, and I am so excited to finally begin the program tomorrow! From what I have heard, the program is both emotionally and physically draining with a large amount of work, but in the end past participants have said it changed them more positively than anything else they did here in South Africa and in general. I don’t really know what that means for me, but I am extremely excited and optimistic to find out!
On Tuesday some friends and I decided to hike up Stellenbosch Mountain. It was pretty cloudy—I don’t think I would have been able to do it if it were sunny out. We only made it to the top of the first peak (there are three peaks) because it was getting dark/looked like it was going to rain and everyone was pretty tired. It only took us about an hour to get up to the first peak but it was not an easy hike. I was so sore the next day. One day once it gets cooler I want to hike up to the very top (I have heard it’s about a six hour hike to the top). Even though it was cloudy, the views were still awesome and you could see all of Stellenbosch!
On Wednesday, I went with the other AIFS students on our first AIFS excursion. We went to a local beach called Gordon’s Beach. It was the most beautiful place I have EVER been to. The beach was basically deserted, there were mountains everywhere, and a very cool cave. The water wasn’t as cold as the last beach but the waves were HUGE and the current was very strong (but I still really enjoyed playing in the ocean with some other friends). I had an amazing time. At night I went out with a few friends, and for the first time witnessed what a frat party is like here. It was similar to Pitt—gross floors, very hot, loud music, etc. We didn’t stay long but it was interesting to see what a frat was like in South Africa
On Thursday I didn’t do too much. I went out to dinner with some friends at a restaurant called 5 Reynolds. It was really good! The atmosphere was really awesome too. We were at dinner for three hours because in South Africa people don’t rush their dinner (especially when they go out)—I still need to get used to this.
On Friday there was a giant residential hall competition. Each residential hall (probably about 15 or so of them) made a dance/skit up to a common theme: the negatives of social media. It was a huge production. Every residence hall had their own stage and sound system. It was very interesting to learn more about the residence halls. There are so many of them, and every hall is so nice looking. I have heard that they all have a dining hall and some sort of dancing/party room. It is very interesting and different than American residences.
Saturday was probably my favorite day since I got to South Africa! There was a wine festival with 69 different wineries. Three other friends and I stayed for about 6-7 hours. There was music and food there as well. It was an awesome atmosphere and we met a lot of South Africans who were curious as to why we chose Stellenbosch as our study abroad destination. People automatically know we are American here…Multiple times I’ve had people come up out of nowhere and ask where in America I was from. We are definitely a louder culture than most. Another question I always get from South Africans is, “Did you think you would see Lions in the street when you came here?”. I always laugh it of and say no. But it almost seems like they expect Americans to not have any knowledge whatsoever about other countries—which is somewhat true. After being here I realized that we are not taught much about other countries (while South Africans could name almost every state in America, etc.). On a more positive note, when a lot of people find out we are American they automatically tell us their favorite places and where we should go. Everyone is really helpful.
Anyway, the wine festival was such a great time!
Until next time!,