Sunday, February 10, 2008

There is a difference between living and existing

This week was the first week of classes so that was the biggest event for me. I am taking 7 courses so it will be a little more difficult than last semester but I am ready for that. Two of my courses are half in English and half in Afrikaans but all of the notes for both are available in English and one of my south African friends is in it so she helps me with anything important I miss I am just nervous for those days that she doesn’t go to class. Anyway the international courses I am taking are the wine course (yes I know again but you get a lot of free stuff and I don’t get credit for it anyway), sociology: political and cultural change in SA, and transitional justice. The mainstream courses that I am taking are conserving nature, human geography, geographical data collection and spatial analysis, geographic information systems. I picked up the data collection course because otherwise I wouldn’t have had class on Friday which is something that I could not handle so my schedule is fairly full just not so bad on Fridays. I am really enjoying the human geography course I kind of wish that I had discovered geography earlier because I think that I would not have had the same major but maybe there is a way that I can somehow incorporate all of it and it is still early I know. I also had some peer education stuff that I had to do because now there are only 3 weeks until the march...hopefully it all comes together.

Also this weekend we went to boulders beach and cape point/cape of good hope. It was absolutely beautiful this country is amazing. The penguins were pretty active as well like 3 walked right by me and I went in the ocean swimming and they were right near me. They weren’t molting this time so they looked less sick which was great. So that was basically my week in a brief recap. Basically I like classes so far and am excited for next week.

I just want to encourage everyone to realize how privileged we are and take advantage of that. Don’t just go through the motions. Live! You may be surprised what you find.

Oh and sorry about no pictures I have a few but my batteries died so maybe next week.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I am back!

Well as you all know I am back in South Africa. It has been quite the ride. I am very happy to be back. Okay so aging, like last time, I stopped in London for 3 days. This was torture not only because of the fact that I was so close to being back in south Africa but also because the dollar is equivalent to about .46 pounds so since I really need to be careful with my money this semester it didn’t allow me to spend lots of money at all so basically I did a lot of walking and visiting the free museums but let me start from the beginning.

So I left the States at about 6 at night on the 17th. In the airport I ran into a girl who was coming from my school named Laura (there is also another girl going so there are 3 from Assumption) and at the airport we sat and talked and then we met up with most of the girls who were on my flight. They all seemed nice and were full of tons of questions. I answered as best as I could but I don’t want to ruin the experience for them either. The plane ride was good I watched a movie and slept nothing to exciting. When we got to London we got through everything fine and found our driver. He drove us to the motel so we were there by about 6:30 in the morning. We got there and I went up to see if we could get a room or if there was anyone there from AIFS but there wasn’t so we ended up sitting in the lobby for about 3 hours while slowly other flights began to trickle in but still no one from AIFS showed up. It wasn’t that big of a deal someone did eventually and then we were told that we weren’t allowed in our rooms until 2 in the afternoon, which was disappointing because I really wanted to take nap. After we found this out Katy, a girl who was here from last semester, and I walked some girls to the Natural History museum and they decided that they wanted to go there while we went to the science museum. This museum had a lot of potential but we were both wicked tired so it was hard to get through it. We raced sperm though up the fallopian tube and won so we fertilized the egg and we also found out what kind of personalities we had. After we went to the Victoria and Alfred museum which is an art museum and ended up sitting in a hall of Raphael paintings again this would have been amazing but we were dragging. After that we decided that we would sit in the lobby and wait for our room and eat some of the food that we had brought. Luckily the rooms were ready early so we got ours at about 12:45 and decided to take a 3 hour nap get up and shower watch some news and then we went to the welcome drinks meeting. There are so many people in this group it was kind of intimidating. I made my round meeting people but even still today I don’t know everyone’s names but I think that I recognize everyone from AIFS. After that we got a group together and went to a fish and chips place and we all ordered something after that we stopped at a bar and Katy and I left fairly quickly and went to bed.

The next day we had the bus tour around London. This was fairly similar to the last one but it was still interesting because I had forgotten some of the facts. After that me Emily, Greg, Corey, Eric, Katy and Katy all went to the Tate Modern Art museum in London. This was really interesting there was a couple of of paintings that I really liked and some that I didn’t understand why it was called art like a green neon light that was placed diagonally on the wall but hey to each his own. After that we walked to the globe theater but didn’t go in because it wasn’t free. After that some people grabbed lunch and I ate some of the food that I had brought from home because lets face it everything is way to expensive over there. We then walked to the tower of London and took some pictures. Eric bought a shot glass for his mom. By this point it was dusk and so we started to walk home. Everyone but Eric Katy and I took the underground home but we decided to walk. On the way home we stopped at this Indian restaurant which gave you such small portions it was awful but we ate there and then continued on our way home. We didn’t get back until like 9 and my feet were very tired. That night we watched some TV with eric and then went to bed early. Here are some pictures from the day:

Buckingham palace

Katy and Eric at a Cathedral

Tate Modern museum

Globe Theater

Tower of london

funny sign

The next day was the day that we were leaving for South Africa so we had the morning free. Katy and I got up packed ate breakfast showered and then walked to the natural history museum and walked around there for a little bit and then the whole group set off for the airport. Katy and I were extremely excited. London was pretty much torture because we were so close to South Africa and it was hard to do everything because things are so expensive and it was hard to get to know people because people were only interested in asking questions about Stellenbosch and not getting to know us. But we made it through.

On the plane I had to have a middle seat and I hd this older Australian man sitting next to me and all he wanted to do was talk the whole time and I have issues being rude to people so for a lot of that flight I was listening to him. He was telling me about all of his crazy travels and currently he was on a trip around the world and how many women are keen on him and he has also beaten up a few people in his day. So that was kind of frustrating. We then arrived in Cape Town and I got into the country fine which was a relief because I didn’t have a study permit yet but I had some paperwork that worked out. It was great to see Chels and Hestea.. We then got on the bus and drove to Stellenbosch it was so great to see things that I recognized basically I was ecstatic that whole ride. Originally I was supposed to live in Concordia but things got messed up no ones fault really but Katy and I are living in Academia with a bunch of South Africans but we haven’t met many of them yet. Our room is nice we have a large kitchen/common room and we share a bathroom but we each have our own bedroom. We are on the first floor but have a view of the mountains so that makes up for the fact that you have to be extra cautious about putting stuff out of sight when you aren’t in the room so that people wont break in. Aslo we are along a walk way so it can get noisy but if that is all I have to complain about then I really have nothing to complain about. The first day that we were here we ran some errands had lunch with the new kids and then unpacked. We didn’t have to attend any of the orientation sessions because we had already been here so that was nice especially because it was extra hot that day I feel like. That night we had the welcome dinner. Katy and I were in charge of getting everyone in the Academia/Concordia complex to the restaurant which was 44 people. I kind of felt like a babysitter which was a little awkward because I want people to get to know me and not think of me as someone superior to them and people were late too like 15 minutes so that was frustrating but we got everyone there. The dinner was nice but again it was warm. After the dinner everyone that wanted to go out went to Mystics so I hung out there for a little while but left pretty early because there were so many Americans there that I couldn’t really handle it and it is the first night in south Africa. This group seems to be pretty intent on going to the bars which is not really my thing. I will go once in a while but that is not why I am here. So I hope that people came here for the right reasons. The next day chels, katy and I didn’t have to do anything so again we ended up doing some errands met some more people.

That week was spent attending some orientation sessions and running errands and seeing people that I know from South Africa. It was a nice fairly relaxing week but I always had something to do. There was nothing to noteworthy here. There are some very rich people on the trip. A few guys bought mopeds for about $715 and thought nothing of it which continues to amaze me but hey what are you going to do. On Sunday I went to Yzerfontein to a camp to work on the March Campaign. This campaign is for HIV and AIDS awareness and to encourage people to go and get tested to know there status. The first few days were just there to come up with ideas become more used to the peer eds and the process. I then got placed into a task team. I am in charge of the events which the first one that is being planned is the March in March. It is going to be held on March 5th so there is a lot to do in a little amount of time. It should be stressful but well worth it. We also went on a game drive and had a braai. It was a lot of work but we managed to have some fn as well. I shared a tent with 2 guys for the first few nights and then after that one of my friends that came late joined us so it was even but they are all great kids and it was great to get to know these people better.

Table mountain in the distance

Bronwyn, Big D, tentmates

some peer eds

Nothy and Eberhiem

The day I got back was vensters which is like when all of the fist years have to put skits on for everyone to come and watch in different locations around campus. The whole community comes. Oh on a side note it was pretty annoying that each morning including the weekends usually between 6 and 7 people would run around and in there cars beep or play loud music giving the wake up call to the first years and on top of that wake everyone else up as well. But anyway so I wnet to that and then hung out afterwards. Yesterday was the floats so It was a parade that everyone comes out for. The floats were pretty cool here are some pictures:

So that is what I have been up to. Classes start tomorrow so that is when the real work starts.