Week 13

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a great Passover and Easter!

This past week went by very fast (as always). I didn’t do much during the week…just the normal walking around Stellenbosch (since I only had one class last week). Finally after 9 days of not having any class, I have my Gender and Identity class tomorrow and I have a test. My only real test this whole entire semester (completely different from my friends at Pitt who are going through their horrible finals right now…glad I am not there!).

Anyway, this past weekend 5 friends and I went to Hermanus—a beach town about an hour and a half away from Stellenbosch. We successfully rented a car…which meant it was the first time my friends and I were able to drive to get to our destination (minus international office activities). I forgot how nice it is to not have to rely on public transportation (especially South African public transportation).  After successfully driving on the left side of the road, we made it to Hermanus!

Zoete Inval (where we stayed)...definitely the most interesting hostel so far

Zoete Inval (where we stayed)…definitely the most interesting hostel so far

The weekend itself was pretty relaxing.  For the most part we just walked around town and just hung out at the beach. On Saturday  woke up early to drive to Gansbaai (a famous area to see Great White Sharks) so we could go shark cage diving! After learning the safety precautions and what not, we all went on a boat ride to where we would go shark cage diving. The boat crew attracted the sharks with giant fish (I believe it was Tuna) and a fake seal they named Gladece. Once the first shark came, we went in groups of 8 into a cage to see the sharks! My friends and I put on a wetsuit (probably one of the most difficult things I have done in South Africa), and went in the cage. The water was 14 degrees Celsius (REALLY cold). The boat crew would tell us when a shark was near and yell to go under and look left, right, or center. The sharks came really close to us—if we were to reach our hand out of the cage we would have touched them. By the end of our shark cage diving, we saw about 11 different sharks. Some sharks were babies, but most were pretty huge. One shark that kept coming back was very aggressive and ate Gladece (the shark actually grabbed the fake seal and proceeded to spin the boat as he tried to break the seal apart…eventually the shark was successful).

Shark cage diving!

Shark cage diving!

Shark cage diving!

Shark cage diving!

Underwater in the cage (thanks to Colleen's camera)

Underwater in the cage (thanks to Colleen’s camera)

Shark cage diving!

Shark cage diving!

The boat that we went on for shark cage diving

The boat that we went on for shark cage diving

On Sunday my friend Juliana got a tattoo. It was the first time I ever saw someone get a tattoo so that was pretty cool. However, there was a lot going on in the tattoo shop (with piercings and tattoos and what not) so it got a little nauseating after a little. Juliana got the word Ubuntu tattooed on the back of her left shoulder. The word is a bantu word (a word that encompassed the languages Xhosa and Zulu… from how it has been explained to me, it has a black/colored cultural meaning). Ubuntu means “I am because we are” and is a very popular statement in the black/colored community (and is often an unknown word in the white community). The word symbols the importance of community and humanness.

Desmond Tutu’s  quote on Ubuntu: One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – “the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality — Ubuntu — you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity”

My weekend was really great. On Monday we returned back to Stellenbosch to complete some homework and to once again, just relax. This week I have class Wednesday and Friday. On Saturday there is a big wine and cheese festival that I am going to.

On another note, my computer is broken AGAIN (I have no idea how that happened… I was not even using my computer when it stopped working). Also, about 10 minutes after finding my computer dead, I touched my toaster which proceeded to catch on fire. And about a minute later, my phone charger suddenly stopped working. I actually found the whole cycle of breaking things somewhat funny…but was a little worried I was going to bring bad luck to Hermanus. Fortunately, I did not (except for when my friend accidently slammed the car door shut on my finger and it almost broke). If anything, South Africa has taught me to not wake up with any expectations for what’s going to happen during the day. Instead, just wake up with expectations that it will be a good day (since from my prior experience here, everything does truly work out in the end)—some South African study abroad advice haha.

Until next time,

Leah

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