Thursday, July 30, 2009


Holy crap August is about to begin. How the hell did that happen? So in terms of Arcadia I feel relieved. We met Will today, our new resident director. He has great credientals though the fact that he’s never been to South Africa or Africa at all makes me a little uneasy but whatever uneasiness I feel towards him, they are relieved by Tony our new professor for the core class. So the core class like they’ve been saying in those emails that I haven’t quite believed is still happening, so no need to add another class that I really don’t need….relief. So yeah, it should be good. I feel a lot better after meeting the guys and hearing what they had to say though it did get a bit awkward when Will started talking about Andrea and Kevin but I guess, that’s to be expected.

The day besides the meeting with the guys was good. I went swimming again. This time I was armed with a lock for my stuff so I didn’t have to worry every ten seconds to make sure my stuff was still there though really if they had been or even if I looked up just to see my stuff get taken, what could I do? Damn well nothing swimming in a pool…I could just see that not going so well. But that’s irrevelant what is importanct is the fact that I totally improved my back stroke today. I had to remember what back when I took lessons. That was at y and that was a while ago. But I definitely improved and I think I’ll do some reading on swimming so I can get even better. Plus I learned about a place where I can get goggles so I won’t have to worry about the whole water in my eyes thing which gets old pretty quickly…..there were a lot more people at the pool today probably because it was one instead of in the morning like it was last time (side note: its raining hard outside. It sounds awesome but I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. Cape town is no fun in the rain!)

Hmm, I honestly don’t have the much to say. I went to sociology of health. It was interesting. It’s weird because some of the stuff I’m learning is exactly what I need right now. Like for example we talked today (I say “we” but really it was us listening to professor) about how social networks can be helpful in terms of health. For instance, people are less likely to commit suicide if they have a strong support system through church, friends, family, etc. It makes perfect sense but still hearing it just crystallizes things for me. I need to find a good support system so I can survive here. It is immensing helpful to be able to talk Loren. Trust me, I don’t know what I’d do without being able to talk to him but it’s also just a benefical if not more so to talk to people here because they’re going through similar things. It just takes me a while to get that comfortable around people where I feel I can talk about things like that….idk. just random thoughts I guess

One thing that was productive and exciting today was the fact that Amanda, Adam and I went to 2way Travel. It’s a student travel place. They have some great trips for spring break which is coming up soon. It’s the end of August for UWC kids. So I have to figure out what I’m doing quick. Right now, I’m looking at a 4 day trip to Kruger National Park. The big 5 are supposed to be there which are lions, elephants, and honestly I can’t remember the rest but you get the idea. It’s relatively inexpensive considering its all inclusive. The only thing I have to worry about is getting to Johannesburg and malaria pills, which can be expensive. Jamie has some pills that are $7/pill. The flight to Joburg (as they call Johannesburg here) is not too bad either. I found a flight today for $130. So we’re looking at about a $600 trip including the flight, the pills and the actual expense for the trip, which I mean sounds bad from a purely financial look. I hate the fact that I’m just spending money here not making it but when else will I be in Africa? Though I’m not going as big as Amanda is thinking about going, there is this great 10 day trip to Botswana and Victoria Falls which would amazing but its about $1800. That’s a bit out of my price range. I need money when I get back.

Another trip I’m looking at is much simpler but it’ll allow me to do other things. It’s an overnight safari. It doesn’t require malaria pills or a flight to Joburg and the price is sweet: $125. Then I could do other things like spend a day or two at a township and/or a canopy trip which I know is about $50. So yeah, I’m open to suggestions if any readers have any but I need to decide soon because if I need to book a flight it needs to be soon to keep the price down. Yup that’s about all here in Cape Town. I’m really glad the drama with Arcadia has at least died down a lot. Hopefully it’ll continue to be that way. Peace out

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When will this madness end?

Another stressful day. I’m not sure what it is about being a different country but everything even the simplest things before complicated. But actually maybe most of it should be blamed on Arcadia. All of us received an email saying that the core course is still on and that they literally just hired someone for the job which came as a complete surprise and relief to me. But then I got a txt from Andrea asking us to still look for a class just in case the core class fell through. Most kids decided not to borrow but I would much rather be safe than sorry so I set out to find the Xhosa department and the history department. The campus isn’t that big right? Yeah it took me a while and even when I found the Xhosa department they didn’t seem to have the classes I wanted so fail on that end. History turned out much better though it did take me a while to find the class. If I have to add a class which is still up in the air even though I just got another email reassuring us that the core class was still on, I will take “gender and African history.” It just sounds interesting. Let’s hope I’m right. Plus I still can have Fridays off though really I’m planning on using Fridays to volunteer at Hillcrest Primary school once I get my schedule down pat. So yeah, hopefully it’ll all work out find. I really do hope that the core class is still going to happen but if I’ve learned anything in my time in South Africa so far it’s that things often don’t go through as you planned. But hopefully I’m wrong and the core class will continue and it’ll be great. I’m just not sure how they’re going to replace Kevin who has all these great contacts.

So besides the whole class problem today was alright. I got to sleep in which was like heaven. I did have three classes in a row though which was not fun. The first class was fine: sociology of health. Learned some interesting stuff like 7 ways to stay healthy

1. sleep seven hours
2. don’t smoke cigrattees
3. drink moderately
4. eat breakfast
5. don’t snack between meals
6. exercise daily
7. keep weight down by advoiding fatty foods

I have most of this list down. But it’s #5 I have a problem. I always eat between meals. I’m not sure I could survive not eating between meals. Plus I’ve heard that it’s better to eat several small meals than a few big meals but who knows?

So first class good. Second class was a tutorial and amazingly boring. It was the sociology of health tut and since we have a paper due in a couple weeks, we went to library and learned how to use the database, the electronic journals, the catalogues which was a real waste of time. I already know that stuff. But I made the most of it and was able to find a couple of the class readings at the library and learned how to use the databases off-campus which is definitely useful and I made a friend kinda. Her name is Crystal and she sat next to me in the computer basically we shared my computer and I let her make a copy of our assignment since she haven’t gotten it yet and I learned I wasn’t the only one not being able to get the assignment and readings online which was comforting.

Third class was another gigantic waste of my time but more so because we met for five minutes because we were supposed to watch a short movie or something but we were in a classroom with a chalk board and an overhead projector. Not exactly the things necessary for watching a dvd so the tutor postponed the dvd watching and its paper about it (one paged summary no biggie) until next week. But of course next week we’re supposed to watch another dvd and have a multiple choice test on that the following week. Basically everything: the one page summary, the test and an essay fall on the same day. Oh joy. And all the other classes seem to have things due during that week too. So I’m trying to be proactive like I found out I have an assignment due during that week but it’s for a class that I have all the readings too so I can pretty much do it this weekend. That’s my goal. We’ll see if it actually happens. But one thing I’m not sure of is if it’s double spaced or not. Crystal said they usually aren’t which means four pages is really our eight which is a lot. But I’ll be double checking with the professor just to make sure.

Oh and I should mention that I got to know the campus very well today because I didn’t know where my last tut was. Took me forever. What I learned: I’m really bad with maps and directions. I had a map and it still didn’t help me. But in my defence, the classroom was upstairs and there was no way I could have known that with the little information I had though I walked through the building where it was several times. Finally I asked for help and unlike yesterday and being sent all over campus, I found it easily. Another things I learned: ask the students they damn well should know what they’re talking about. I could write more but I’m spent. Good night all or actually it’s good afternoon back home…

Tuesday, July 28, 2009



Another lazy day is South Africa. It’s ok though. I’m sure I’m going to get crazy busy once school picks up and I start volunteering at the primary school on our street. Today I woke up at noon again and made myself the usual granola with a banana. I did some reading but not too much because honestly the reading was dull. It was about getting people to participate in their government, which is frankly still a problem in the US. I just found it uninteresting and could easily summarize it in a couple sentences, yet the reading was over twenty pages. I went on a run which was good. Really today was uneventful. We did have a group dinner though with both houses. Emily made pasta salad and grilled burgers which was really good. It was nice to get everyone together. The highlight was making cookies which were kinda strange because all that was required were water and oil. They were really crumbly but once we added an egg they looked more like cookie dough. They turned out pretty well. Yeah, dull day. That’s all.

Before I talk about today, I’ll go over yesterday. It wasn’t too exciting just stressful. First off there are strikes in South Africa. The sanitation workers and the train workers all went on strike. So traffic was awful. Ivan, our driver, woke up at 6:30 and still didn’t get to our house until after 8. Consequently, Jamie was a little late to her 8:30 class. But the rest of us were fine because we didn’t have class until 9:40. I spent the hour before class attempting to upload a video for Loren but of course it didn’t work at least doing that didn’t waste my money like it does back home. After that didn’t work, I decided to look for my classes on this thing called eLearning. Its basically the same as our Blackboard, but for some reason none of my classes showed up. So I looked on the public site to find my classes and none of them were there either. All of my classes but one claimed to have the readings online but I couldn’t find some and others I found but were last years so little use to me. That pretty much summed up my hour before class. I had my social change class which was not very exciting but I did learn some of bird flu and other manufactured risks like mad cow disease, swine flu, things of that nature.

After class, I decided to try again to look for my readings. This time I went to the short loan section of the library where the readings for some of my classes were supposed to be. Of course, they weren’t. So I tried again looking on eLearning and then even looked at eTeaching. No luck with either. But I did stop by one of my professors offices to tell her that I couldn’t find an assignment online. She told me: “don’t tell me you can’t find it” in a very rude manner. She helped nonetheless. I signed on using her computer and we ran into the same problem: slow internet and the course didn’t show up. She was busy trying to do several things at once, so she just handed me a hard copy of it. The assignment is basically a short paper on donors. I have to interview 8 people about it and do a little research. But apparently they can’t be from the same place like all the American students I live with but a variety. Poop, that means I have to talk to people. Who comes to South Africa to talk to people? I’m being sarcastic of course but I really don’t like talking to strangers. Luckily, I know some other people that will probably be willing to help like Andrea and Ivan, at least that’s a start.

After remembering or being reminded that my Monday class only met every other Monday, I decided to see if I could talk to someone about this whole eLearning issue. I went to the faculty of arts enquires because the sign underneath the paper that said “faculty of arts enquires” said eLearning. But of course, that was not where I supposed to go. I was sent somewhere else that wasn’t right and then sent another place that wasn’t right. Finally that person who was confused why I was sent there in the first place (so was I) called and figured out where I was supposed to be. I found it no problem but still when I got there they really didn’t help. They pretty much told me what I already knew: that some of classes were from last year and the others didn’t exist. Thanks, but that doesn’t really help me. I guess I need to just talk to the teachers about this but after the attitude I got from the first professor (I was told they were nice to exchange students), I’m not so keen on being told off again. But that time after walking all around campus, it was time for my last class and finally to go home.

I went on a run almost immediately after getting home. I ate a little something because I haven’t eaten much (trying to save money), then watched a episode of Scrubs to let the food digest before running. I ran to the UCT track where there were tons of people playing Frisbee or rugby or just warming up for soccer. I was intimidated at first but then decided to hell with it, I needed to run after a very stressful and seemingly unproductive day. So I ran a mile. Yes, just a mile but I decided to see how fast I could do it. Let’s just say I’m no where near the shape I was in after my half marathon. I need to fix that and I should. There’s no reason why I can’t. But running a mile semi-fast (it felt fast to me) felt good and put on that runner’s high that keeps me running in the first place. After returning home, I did some sit ups and called it a day. Showered, ate dinner, and then just did some reading before going to bed. The internet again was being screwy not letting me simply check my email. Plus the mic was acting up again so when I tried to call Jonathan he couldn’t here me half the time and so finally we gave up. It was just one of those days that almost everything seemed to fall apart. Thankfully when the internet was working I was able to txt Loren and he could send me audio since he’s out of minutes so we can’t talk on the phone L but we managed.

On to today, thankfully (or not thankfully, I haven’t decided yet) the strikes were postponed, so we were able to get to school in plenty of time. Class was good not very exciting though we finally got a hard copy of the syllabus which of course made me happy (yeah, readings!). But after class was even better, I decided to go for a swim in what I learned is the only Olympic sized pool in the Western Cape. It’s huge. I love it. I’m going to be an amazing swimmer before the semester is through. Ok, probably not, but I plan on swimming there as much as I can. I have to take advantage of having my own pool. Belmont doesn’t have one. But then I realized Jonathan’s going to Vandy next year so I probably figure out a way to use it. I’ve heard Belmont’s supposed to be able to use it anyway.

Moving on, I should have planned ahead. But I needed a lock for my stuff. Of course I didn’t have one, so I just left my stuff poolside so I could keep an eye on it. basically I swam so I was always facing it or could easily see it. I just goofed off for a half hour. I didn’t have goggles so actually swimming laps would be hard while at the same time keeping an eye on my stuff. So I just kept my head above water and just enjoyed being a pool. It was wonderful. A good workout too. Definitely got the heart rate going.

After swimming, I tried again to find readings online. Still no luck so I went to one of professors who was supposed to have office hours. I checked twice and both times he wasn’t there. I honestly don’t know how I killed time because I didn’t do much. I read the syllabus I got, tried to get on a computer, was successful for a little bit but not in finding anything. I don’t really know. Time somehow passed and it was time for class again.

My kinship and gender class again. I don’t know what it is about that class. But it always seems to put me asleep or semi-sleep. Its no good. Probably a major factor is my lack of sleep. I can’t really go to bed at 11 when the last couple nights its been 3 or later. Yeah, I need to fix that. But I should say that my kinship and gender class is the one class that all the readings are at the library and I have them unlike my other classes. So that’s that.

Once I got home, I went to Shoprite, looking especially for a lock which I found. Now I don’t have to worry about my stuff. I think I’ll go swimming again on Thursday. I’m trying to decide if swimming every day of the week is too much. I want to run as well but I guess I might as well take advantage of a pool. Moving on, went to Shoprite got some food. Made a tuna melt that was outta sight. And then it was time for our class.

Alright here’s where it gets interesting. So we walk to UCT’s campus, find where we’re going to be and sit not really looking forward to this “special” meeting. We were supposed to be having class at UWC but for whatever reason plans change. Honestly here you get used to it. Andrea comes in and looks so stress. I made the mistake of telling her “at least your vacation is almost here.” She immediately bursts into tears. Most kids after the fact thought someone died. I didn’t think that. I was just confused that I made her so upset.

Here’s what happened. Basically Arcadia wouldn’t let Kevin and Andrea who have been working their asses off since January take a 10 day vacation. Well, it wasn’t just that. I think that was just the last straw. Last week we learned that the core class which was supposed to end by September has to be all semester long. The idea was to front load the class so we’d have the pretty good understanding of South Africa before we were leaving, enabling us to enjoy the experience a lot more. Apparently that wasn’t acceptable for Arcadia, which is weird since it has been the way Kevin’s done it for the last three years. But there’s a new director in town and he didn’t like that idea at all. Plus Arcadia didn’t like the idea of vacation even though it is well deserved. So both Kevin and Andrea resigned. I was in complete shock. These people have quickly become like family to me. I’ve been to their house. I’ve eaten with them. I’ve hung out with their adorable son, Benjamin and now it’s all over though Andrea assured us that they’re still staying here.

So how this plays out as of now is that the core class which I was really looking forward to is no longer happening and since Arcadia requires a minimum of 14 hours, I have to sign up for another one. And now a new guy is flying here to sub for Andrea until a replacement is found.

I honestly don’t understand the logic. What is the big deal with a vacation and a class that’s front-loaded? It seems absolutely to put your employees under so much pressure and allow for no breaks. I really don’t get why this couldn’t have waited until after this semester so both parties could work it out instead pretty much throwing us out on a limb. Not cool. So yeah, I’m not happy about this and it just adds to the stress I’m already experiencing with being away from home and especially all the drama with classes.

So right now I’m trying to figure out another class that’ll work and that I’ll be able to get credit for. It shouldn’t be hard expect for Andrea will be done organizing us as of this Friday so we have to decide quickly and with UCW it’s not like I can simply look up a class online find the times and be done. Nope I have to do to the department where my class is and find the times that way and hope that I haven’t missed to much in the last two weeks. Well actually it’ll basically be three weeks. So yeah, not cool. But I’m hoping this’ll all work out. I have to. What other choice do I have? I’m just really disappointed that I can’t take the core class. Yes it was a lot of reading and writing but we’re learning about things that affect all South Africans and would be able to interact with them on a deeper more meaningful level because of that. Andrea has suggested looking at a poli sci class or African studies class to substitute. I might try that. Alright that’s my update. Hope all is well in the States.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Boring Day, Interesting Night

Today was a really lazy day. I woke up at 12:30. It still throws me off. I never know what time it is until I check the time. I never think its as late as it actually is. But anyways, I woke up to a surprisingly quiet house. That’s probably why I didn’t think it was late because the house was quiet. I got up and got myself some cereal and yogurt and to see to my dismay all of the plates piled high in the sink uncleaned. I like my morning to be slow so as most of my roommates were getting ready to leave I was still deciding on whether or not I wanted to go running or just get dressed. I know if I don’t go running first thing after I have breakfast or after I get home from school, I don’t do. I told myself I might run later today but of course that didn’t happen. Instead I took a nice hot shower and got dressed. I still don’t have a key to the house so once my roommates are gone and I want to leave I’m pretty much have to stay out until one of them returns. So I went to the front house and Adam and I brainstormed on things to do for the day. We didn’t make much progress. I had called Joe earlier in the day and after finally getting a hold of him, I find out that he walked all the way to this mall that is probably 3-4 miles away just because he was bored by himself mind you. All I can say is only Joe because he does that sort of thing all the time which always keeps me laughing. So we decide to wait for Joe to get back to the house before we leave not that we’ve decided on anything to do but still. I try to get a hold of Dominique because I haven’t seen her in a while but it ends up being hard as usual with crappy signal when I do get her on the phone or someone else answering the phone that I don’t want to talk to. She was pretty much going to Babo where Jerome works to hang out, which I didn’t really want to do. I wanted to do something fun something different.

Adam and I end up walking to the Rondebosch “mall.” It’s not really a mall at all. It’s more like a bunch of banks, a grocery store and some restaurants, which was frustrating for me because I was thinking that I would finally be able to get a new mic because my mic right now is very moody. It has good days and bad days. Actually it’s more like sometimes it’ll work perfectly fine and other times it doesn’t. But we go into the Pick ‘n’ Pay which neither of us have ever been to and browse the aisle looking to see if it’s cheaper than the Shoprite. For the most part, we concluded that it was overprized. But I ended up getting some more pasta and vanilla so in case I wanted to make cake again, I could. I also got a great mango smoothie before we walked back to house. After that we didn’t really do much. I believe I made Adam watch an episode of Boondocks, the usher episode. It still cracks me up even though I’ve seen it dozens of times. Then Amanda came over and we decided to make French toast. It was delicious. I love how simple it is, just eggs, cinnamon, and bread. Adam also made some strawberry flavoured oatmeal which both Amanda and Adam found disgusting but I found tolerable so I mostly had that.

After that, we decide to go to the Baxter Theatre which is a theatre on UCT’s campus. It’s a beautiful building and it really is hard to believe that you’re in South Africa when you’re in it, especially since the clientel are mostly white and the servers are black. I kept on thinking “South Africa’s elite” and I’m pretty sure they were or at least well off compared to the rest of the population. Tickets were only 85 rand but there were only a couple of black people I saw not including Adam and myself which I found interesting. The musical was the first a cappella play in South Africa and the music was fantastic. If for nothing else, I would have seen it for the singing. All the singers were excellent and all the sound effects were made by them like rain was snapping and the helicopters were made by them too. It was really neat. I still haven’t decided on the plot. Right now, I’m thinking not so good on the plot. I don’t know I guess I’m just thinking internationally because lots of the jokes made would be only understood by South Africans. There was of course the universal subplot of love and the main theme on not destroying the planet. But I definitely would have found it more enjoyable had I understood all the jokes.

The play’s name was “Noah of Cape Town” and it was set in the year 2020. Most of world is covered in water and the people recount the story of this guy whom they called Noah and how he warned against the coming flood even though the world was experiencing massive water shortages. I guess because the plot was so familiar and not really done in an interesting way. I kinda found it flat. Like of course I always enjoy a good love story but that wasn’t even the main part of the play. But as I said before the music was phenomenal and at times it gave me chills.

When we got back, Zuri finally arrived. Zuri is another UCT who just arrived because her visa was delayed because she forgot to pay fees and the consulate never told her and then it just took forever for he to get it. On top of that, her flight was delayed and she had to change her flight several times because of the problem with the visa. I felt so bad for her but I’m happy she’s finally here. She’s also a soc major and goes to Spellman which is cool. It’s interesting because all of us all come from small schools and each of our schools UWC with 15,000 students and UCT with probably also twice that is definitely a culture shock. The UCT kids probably have it worse because their campus is huge and spread out over at least three different campuses. Ok that’s all on today. Good night all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bday- South Africa style

Today’s my birthday which means I’m as Holly said “old as fuck” which is true. I’m no longer a teenager. How did that happen? But whatever, I refuse to become one of those women who doesn’t tell her age. I’m 20, so what? I don’t feel any different. I’m just apparently a year older. Being in a different country doesn’t really change anything either besides the fact that I can drink, if I so choose and I’m with people who haven’t known me for very long, which is a little weird. But today has been fun. Joe, Adam and I went surfing, which for me was my second time. I improved about 150%, which made surfing a lot more enjoyable. Not that it wasn’t enjoyable before, but it was just a great feeling to get up on the board after trying many times and for me, after my first lesson wasn’t too successful.

We ended up getting lessons at the place which was more expensive because the first place, the lifestyle store had all its trainers busy. That pretty much sucked because I ended up paying a lot more for lessons than I wanted to. But the guy, Elfonzo was really nice. It was definitely interesting seeing the differences between the two trainers. I liked Clint because he broke it down in several steps but it was also harder that way because I had to think about each step and by the time I did the wave would be gone. But actually both trainers told me that I need to slow and I guess the second time around I just did. Also Elfonozo made us run a little and stretch which I didn’t have to do the first time. Not that I have anything against running, obviously I love it but it was just kinda weird running in tight wetsuits. Also Elfonzo pushed us on almost every wave and didn’t really talk about paddling, which for a first timer like Joe is very important. I just felt like Clint allowed us a lot more freedom to try it on our own. Either way both experiences were great and I definitely want to continue though probably not with the store we went to today, too expensive.

After surfing, we hopped the train back home where Joe changed since he forgot a change of clothes. So we went back to house and then walked to Rondebosch and had Chinese. It was delicious. I had spring rolls, vegetables and rice and beef in a black bean sauce. It was great and of course cheap. And I had wanted to go see Harry Potter tonight but honestly I spent way more than I wanted to today so I decided against it, plus I was exhausted from surfing so it was just another excuse to stay home and I’m really glad I did because I had a great time with Amanda and Joe.

First we decide that we want to watch a movie and rather than go and spend money we look through our roommates collections which I have to say have a great variety. We kinda picked a movie but not quite because we decided we wanted to make a cake because hello, its my birthday. What’s a birthday without cake? So we go to 7-11 because the Shoprite closes at six and by this time its around 8pm. So we go and of course, we immediantly find it difficult to find all the ingrediants for a cake. We managed to find a great recipe in the store on the back label of a thing of cocoa mix, which we found by tearing off the label (don’t worry we bought it). So we used that recipe to find whatever else we need for a cake and the store actually had every thing we needed except for one thing: vanilla. We decide to make the cake anyway, because what’s the joy in cooking without expertmenting? We walk back to our house and immedinatly have to figure how to covert the metric system into cup/teaspoons which is very annoying. For whatever reason our house only has cups/teaspoons nothing that tells you mL or grams like the recipe calls for. Thank God for internet because the cake would have probably been a complete disaster without us being able to convert everything.

Another problem we run into is the eggs for some reason the recipe calls for separting the whites and the yolk, which turns out to be a major pain. We actually have an egg separter in the house but really we probably would have better without because the yolk ended up falling in with the whites anyway. So at first we think we only need the whites so we throw the yolks away (I know, wasteful Nana would be so disappointed) but then we realized we need both, which cracks me because I’m like why in the world did we go through all that trouble of separating them if we’re using them both? So now we have a bunch of whites (plus a little yolk, not on purpose) and no yolks. I hate wasting and after wasting some yolk unnecessarily we decide to keep the whites and make French toast not tonight mind you tomorrow morning for breakfast (duh). We’ll see how that goes. So we basically just threw two whole eggs in the mix and call it a day. The whole process took way to long but you have understand. We’re dealing with lots of familiar things but in unfamiliar ways like the caramel frosting then really didn’t taste like carmel (it was still good). We just made a major mess and all the while, Joe is sitting on the couch watching the Office, not really helping and when I yell at him to help really he just gets in the way. But it was all in good fun and the cake, I might add, ended up tasting delicious, not really chocolately (Joe thought it tasted like carrot cake…) but it was good.

After finally sitting down to eat cake, we pick a movie called Lords of Dogtown which our roommate, Sam suggested. The beginning was good but it just got progressively weirder and more worthless and it was two hours longest two hours of my life. If you want to watch fine go for it but I’m really glad we didn’t pay for it because it isn’t worth your movie. So yeah that pretty much sums my night. At some point between deciding on a movie and going to 7-11 we did watch a couple episodes of the Office, which were hilarious so all in all, it was a good birthday. Now I need to get into my room before my roommate come home making extra noise. peace

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Khayelitsha= our new home

Khayelitsha was today and it hit a little too close for home for my liking. I was fine for most of the talk. We listened to Mandle who works for the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). He talked about the issues of HIV as it applies to Khayelitsha. The problems are huge. Out of the 700,000 residents 80,000 are estimated to have HIV and only 12,000 are being treated with antiretrovirals (ARVs). This is because of the lack of resources TAC suffers from such as inadequate doctors and nurses and those doctors and nurses they have often not educated on the latest AIDS treatment.

I should also quickly note that Khayelistha is the largest township in the province of the Western Cape.

The issue with government and HIV is huge. Mbeki, South Africa’s former president, was and perhaps still is an HIV denier, believing the cause of HIV to be poverty instead of sex. His statements as well as his former deputy president and current president, Jacob Zuma has caused massive confusion over HIV and its spread. Mbeki believed that the often life saving ARVs were toxic though many in his cabinet were taking this same drugs. In addition, Zuma was charged and later acquitted of a rape charge, were he knowingly had sex with a former comrade’s daughter who he knew was HIV positive. To protect himself from contracting the disease, Zuma took a cold shower. When top officials like Zuma and Mbeki tell lies about HIV, it causes countless unnecessary death just because people are confused about the treatment and the prevention of HIV.

Today, in Khayelitsha there are 12 public clinics which provide free services such as testing for HIV and another problem in South Africa, TB. TAC also has 14 branches in Khayelitsha were people talk about AIDS and are educated about it. In addition, TAC has a weekly time slot where people are given a safe place to talk about AIDS. All this is done not through the government’s money nor drug companies, but through organizations such as Bread for the world, Ford Foundation and the South African Development Council.

I was good for most of the talk but when he started talking about gender-based crimes, which btw I think is a strange phrase but it’s being used a lot lately, I lost it. He talked about guys who target girls, basically babies as young as 2. Bianca, one of the UCT students, was like I’m sorry did you 2 and he said yes, 2. Any where form 2 to 24 and it just got progressively more disturbing and heart breaking from there. He told us these two stories about these women who were raped and murdered. One of the stories involved a man who raped a woman without a condom and then when he found out she was HIV positive went back and killed her. The trial which convicted him of rape and murder lasted over two years. Can you imagine waiting that long for your daughter or your sister to get justice? Two years! He also just talked about how most rapes occur between people who know each other and when it happens in the family often there isn’t a desire to get the police involved so that the rape can foil the family name. So they do this thing called “paying of blood” which means the rapist pays the victim around 2,000 to 3,000 rand to rectify the situation. I’m sorry but how can money ever fix the emotional damage that rape can cause. And even if a woman does go to the police, she has to report it in front of 10-15 people and often the police are unsympathetic. Somewhere during this point, I just lost it. His words just brought back awful memories and hit way too close to home for me. At that point, I couldn’t even listen or take notes. I wanted so bad to ask what if anything do you do for the younger victims, the ones who probably don’t even know what happened to them. What can you do? Even if I would have been able to ask, I fear his answer wouldn’t have brought any comfort and that’s what really got me. The fact that little girls who have little if any understanding may be going something as horrifying as rape and only later be able to understand when the rapist is long gone and probably hurting another girls.

He also went on to talk about why these men rape in the first place and most of it has to do with the image of a man being the protector and provided being destroyed by the fact that some many people are unable to get jobs. The unemployment in Khayelitsha is 60% and most men are competing with women who often land the better jobs. Add that to men coming out of prisons were the often raped more than once and there is a lot of anger taken out on women because of it.

Unfornately, I really didn’t get to ask any of the questions I wanted answered because the lecture had a strict time limit. But it was very interesting. I don’t think I should use that word. It was emotional, hard-hitting and truthful. I’m really glad I got to experience it, but it just leaves me with more questions. What can I do?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

no class=lazy day

Shout out to my dad for his birthday. Happy birthday dad! So today was interesting. It was a rather lazy day since I had no classes. I woke up around noon (yeah, don’t hate). In my defence, I was up until two talking to Loren so it’s a little more acceptable, but only just a little. So I got up, made some breakfast which consisted of strawberry yogurt which I haven’t completely decided if I like yet and raisin mueslai which is basically granola with raisins in it. it’s like crack. I’m so addicted. I eat some of it then go reluctantly to the yogurt and back again to my drug of choice. I don’t know what it is. It’s just tasty.

After breakfast, I did my usual check my e-mail, Facebook, etc. and then I decided to see how it is outside. Bad idea. The door slams shut behind me leaving me standing outside in pjs with no keys. Luckily, I had stuck with phone in my pocket so I just called Andrea who of course is thirty minutes away and can’t help me, but she calls our maid, Uphonia (I have no idea it that’s how its spelled but that’s what it sounds like) and she lets me in. I felt pretty dumb but no real harm done, just time wasted.

Soon after I’m let back into the house, Amanda one of the UCT students returns. So really I could have just waited for her but there was no way I could have known that she would be back so quickly. I finally get dressed and decide to go running. Jamie had pointed out the UCT track and decided to go find it myself. It took a little longer than I would have hoped because it was farther away then I thought. I did eventually find it and did a mini speed workout. It was basically two 400s with a little jogging in between. I could have done more but since I only have the key to the gate and Amanda needed to be back on campus at 2, my workout had to short, which is really fine because I’m just now getting to run on a regular basis and I don’t want to overdo it. The run was good. I definitely got that feeling of ecstasy after a good run, which is a main reason why I run, that and the fact that I feel if I run enough I don’t have to worry about what I eat.

After my run, I relaxed and took a shower and then prepared lunch which was hamburgers on sweet rolls. Also tasty. I have to say I think I’m getting pretty good at this whole cooking thing. After eating, I read for my core class. Tomorrow we’re supposed to going to a township called Khayelitsha and talk about AIDS. Is it weird that I’m excited? Because I am, I think it’s going to be really interesting, though I have been warned that it’s really intense and my program director always cries when she goes, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m sorry today was really boring but I feel like I should write anyway.

Today I decided that my hair needed to get braided. It was supposed to get done on Sunday by Dominoque but that never happened. I did wash it though and basically rocked the mini fro (I feel like I said this already…). But anyways, I wanted to get it braided so I could go swimming. I still haven’t gotten to use UWC’s pool and its driving me crazy. I am planning to use it tomorrow though if and only if I finish the core class reading tonight. So the problem was I’m in a new country and I was really nervous about getting my hair done. It’s probably because the same woman has been doing my hair from like middle school on. She even did it before I left so yeah, the whole newness of having someone I don’t know do my hair made me nervous. Plus I didn’t know if they would for whatever reason take advantage of me because I obviously don’t know what I’m doing. So I did the whole thinking about in my head trying to convince myself that it’s no big deal, I can do this. But really I wanted someone to go with me just in case. I wasn’t going to make them stay the entire time mind you but still just so I felt better. That didn’t work out because Dominoque was as usually ignoring my txts and Adam was in transit and let’s face it, I’m impatient so I finally went got some money to make sure I had enough and went to the nearest hair salon, which was called Hair Bar, which I thought was pretty funny.

It wasn’t bad at all. The people at the front desk were really nice and I got in a chair almost as soon as I walked in. One thing that did make me nervous was the fact that the hair dresser kept on speaking a different language. I don’t think it was Xhosa because there weren’t any clicks but it just made me nervous because they could be making fun of me and of course, I’m helpless. I did relax a lot though when one of the women started singing Bob Marley. I couldn’t help but smile at that. I love Bob. So that eased me but then of course all the lights decided to randomly go off which freaked me out. The first thing I thought was omg, I’m going to die here or thinking someone might come up and grab me because it was completely dark outside so I couldn’t see a thing. But it was fine, the lights went on fairly quickly after they went off but it really got my adrenaline going because I had no idea what was going on. But no harm done. I got my hair done in under three hours, which was pretty good and you couldn’t beat the price. About twenty bucks whereas at home I usually pay 30. Right now, I’m alternating between writing a little and reading because for some reason I can’t get through it but the thought of swimming definitely helps so I guess I should get back to that. Peace y’all

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

most of my day plus random thoughts

Things aren’t rushing to my head that I feel I must write down now like the usually are when I write, but I figure, it would be good to write anyway. Right now, I feel really content that probably is largely due to the fact that I have a full belly for once. For whatever reason, I feel like I’m always hungry here. Perhaps that due in large part because I’m solely responsiable for feeding myself (I should note that my full belly is thanks to my program director). I have never learned to cook sufficiently. I know the basics like breakfast, I got that down pancakes, waffles, eggs, oatmeal. Breakfast is always pretty easy and fairly simple. As far as the other two meals are concerned I can make tuna, which I tried for the first time here without my usual mayo and relish (it wasn’t half bad). Of course, your typical pb and j and since we have a george foreman I can cook up chicken, beef, etc. Oh and of course the household favourite: pasta. We have learned after these past couple weeks that cooking is mostly just boiling water or at least the cooking that we’re doing. I’m sure this experience will force me to improve.

What else is going on? I had three classes today. My first one early in the morning with Adam. Its my anthropology class and so far I think its my favourite at least in terms of UWC classes. The professor is awesome and always yells at the countless kids who come in late, which I appreciate it because it’s really annoying plus just plain rude. I honestly don’t get it. Plus the professor is really passionate about his class and I easily stay awake though it is an 8:30 class. He also likes to guilt us a lot. Like today, he said that every time you eat a McDonald burger, you’re killing a tree in the rainforest. At least I can feel guilt free about that one because I don’t eat McDonald. In fact before I went to one recently here, I can’t remember the last time I went to one and when I did go, I got coffee so there! Joking aside, the class just really makes you think about how messed up the world really is. For example, how people’s wealth are almost always at the expense of others’ poverty. I feel like I mention something to this effect before but I also feel it bears repeating.

Another interesting point the professor made was how most historians/academics read the slave trade in terms of supply and demand, which is a very Western way of looking at it. If you look at the stories that west Africans told, it was one that used death as a metaphor. Basically the story was that Europeans would take slaves and eat them/kill them and then toss the Africans bodies into the ocean were cowrie shells would form (which was the form of money in West Africa) and then the Europeans would come back and buy more slaves with their cowrie shells. The professor even took this concept of death as a metaphor a step further in asking how death could describe economic activity, which puzzled me greatly. How does/can death help stimulate/describe economic activity? Well, one obvious example that apparently escaped me was life insurance and he also talked about how in Xhosa culture, a funeral can take up to two weeks of preparation. That’s a lot of economic activity that’s necessary for the funeral to take place. That was just something interesting he talked about.

Now what I really fascinated me was how he sort of keep going with the whole death as a metaphor in talking about economic activity and moved on to talking about the economy in a non-capitalist and how the Western world makes the rest of the world believe that it can only get growth (which is perceived as a good thing) by playing the rules, which of course the West controls and essentially make up. But then of course there are many examples of countries becoming develop without using the capitalist model. One huge example is China. Now I’m aware that China is communist but I’m not really sure how their economy works but obviously whatever they’re doing is working. I wonder if their model could be applied to other countries to allow them to develop. I don’t really know where I’m going with this I just thought it was interesting, a different perspective I’d never thought of.

So that was one class. After class, I went to the library (it is my home no matter where in the world I am) to do some reading. I always seem to forget how much I love school. Now don’t get me wrong I have my moments when I wonder why in the world am I here, but for the most part I love. That realization didn’t come from the first reading I was doing on the family, but it actually was really interesting. It talked about the common belief that half of marriages end in divorce but it unpacked that statistics and found that although that’s true, it doesn’t take into account that most people who get divorced get divorced more than just once. So yeah, turns out we’re all not as hopeless as we thought or at least as I thought. It also talked about other stuff involving the family but that was the most interesting thing that I took away and that’s worth noting.

After I finished that reading, I decided to do some of my own reading for my social change class. The teacher suggested some authors and hasn’t given us any assigned reading, which feels weird to me so I did some searching to get some of my own reading to replace it. plus its soc, which I always find interesting. The first thing I got was a textbook by Anthony Giddens on sociology. It was pretty boring because it was basically a repeat on things we talked about in case but for whatever reason I just love jotting down notes or quotations. I just love it and then my second book which I actually checked out just for fun was “the mcdonaldization of society” which I feel like I might have read or something similar but its interesting all the same.

After all that reading, it was off to class, which I should add was the class I almost fell asleep in yesterday. This is partly because my roommates were up late again but also because the class topic can be a bit dull. We’re talking about kinship group and lineages. You know, your basic descent diagrams. It was interesting reading about on my own but the teacher basically just repeats the reading, which I know is good to hear after reading it but it is, as I said, a bit boring. So I struggled to stay awake in the class. I also don’t like it because the kids in there are so noisy, any time the prof says something they feel the need to comment on it and won’t shut up.

The ride home was anxious. I was worried because last night I had to tell my roommates to be quiet again. I hate conflict, just not a fan and right now it seems like its me versus them which makes it worse. I’m just a really terrible sleeper. It sucks because if its not completely quiet, I can’t sleep. Anyway I was just worried because I wasn’t exactly a sweetheart when I told them I needed sleep. I was just frustrated because this wasn’t the first time and I told them I had a class early the next day. So I just trying to think of ways to fix the problem that would be a compromise that we could all live with. I’m seriously willing to move into the front house if need be because I just can’t deal with a semester. I felt a little better when Jamie apologized and said that we all need to sit down and discuss our schedules. So hopefully we’ll do that and it’ll all work out. But this week the UCT students haven’t started so I completely understand their need to stay up but still, yeah I need my sleep. I’m just a nicer person when I get sleep (my family can attest to that).

Once I got home, I went to Shoprite and got some groceries. I really need a planner but of course they didn’t have one L I made myself some tuna because I was hungry, of course and wanted to see if I liked it. They put it in oil here which I don’t think they do back home but I liked it. I was fine eating it by itself but once I put it on a sweet roll I couldn’t just eat it alone. Thus the tuna sweet roll was born. Tasty.

After that I called Andrea to ask about the school next door. I want to do some volunteering there and wanted to know if she had any contacts there. She of course did and said she’ll get back to me by the weekend. So hopefully next week, I’ll be working with the cute kiddies J I might have to steal one. The ones that I’ve seen are way too cute.

Then I debated if I should go running. I have ran the last two days (yeah me) and since I am just now getting back into it. I decide a day off wouldn’t hurt. I’ll run tomorrow especially since I have no class. Next week I will though because that’s when one of my tutorials start. So tomorrow I just think I’m going to relax, do some reading and hopefully get my hair braided. I washed it on Sunday finally so right now I’m rocking the mini afro in ponytail form. Not that I have a problem with, its just better if I get it braided for swimming. I want to use UWC’s pool so bad. I’m excited for it. I think Friday I’m going to try to go surfing again and then Harry Potter. Yeah, I still haven’t seen it. not ok, but I figure surfing and Harry Potter are great ways to spend your birthday, something new and something familiar. I can’t write anymore hopefully the next post will be about the documentary we watched this evening. It was great but I have a lot to say about. To be continued…

Monday, July 20, 2009

Official Orientation

Today was a long day. It started around 11:30am with the driver picking us up and taking us to the waterfront. Our orientation was on the University of Cape Town’s campus (UCT) and the building we were in used to prison, which you could totally tell, especially with the broken glass atop the walls around the ex-prison. Of course being in a prison again, even a former prison reminded me of my justice and prison class, if only briefly.

The day started and ended for me in the same way with food, which is always a good place to begin. I believe we ate at the UCT cafeteria and it was buffet style, but not all you can eat, apparently only fatty Americans do that. So that was adjustment, trying to figure out all the food you wanted at once. But I managed (obviously). I got mostly fruit, a salad, chicken and of course a chocolate chip muffin. I can never resist one

After lunch, we started off listening to our program director go through the basic rules of the program, which if I had to sum it up would be: don’t be stupid. Yes you are allowed to drink but try to keep your wits about you. If you’re going to engage in, as she called it, intimate relationships, use a condom because 1 in 5 South Africans have HIV/AIDS and may/may not know if. All the drugs illegal in America are illegal here so don’t go there because the South African jails are much worse than the American jails (which reminds me of a good paper topic). But then she went into short little informational about weed and how easy and cheap it is to get here and its also apparently stronger here than back home. I found that a little strange because wouldn’t that somehow encourage people to get some. I don’t know maybe that’s just be.

Also Andrea went over academic expectations. Who knew we were here to study? Study abroad…oh yeah, now I remember. Anyway, I found out that the minimum number of hours I had to take was 14, which isn’t a lot don’t get me wrong, but I had already figured out my schedule for the next two years so adding other class involved a lot more than just adding another class. Because I’m in the honors program, I have to make a plan of study which has to be approved. Basically the plan of study includes all my classes for my college career and a rational on why I’m taking those classes. It really is pretty simply. But it’s a bit difficult to get it approved seeing as I’m in a different country. Now when I was in America I finished my plan of study and mailed it to my advisor to get her approval, which has to be in writing. Now of course I have to make some changes to it and somehow get it over the ocean (annoying). Speaking of which she still hasn’t told me anything if she approved or didn’t or whatever (also annoying).

Moving on from that difficulty, we also started our core class which is taught by Andrea’s husband, Kevin. He’s very awesome and has a very interesting background. He was raised in Peru, Brazil and Portugal and majored in French literature. His graduate work was also something interesting like a specific philosophy but I don’t remember which. His college degree and master’s have nothing to do with what he does now which is teach college kids about contemporary South African issues. But before he got into that, he worked with several African nations including South Africa and helped write chapter 2 of their constitution, which I must say its pretty damn cool.

So yeah, that’s a little history on him. Basically this class is going to rock. We’re going to talk about AIDs, poverty, education, everything under the sun that South Africans are concerned with. Plus we get to go to cool places like Stellenbosch, a South African brewery (did you know Miller beer is South African?) and a township. One thing I’m not looking forward to is writing a 16 paged paper. Luckily it’s on any topic of our choice and as I mentioned early I think I’ll write about the South African prison system and compare to the American one because I think that would be interesting. Plus I’m thinking about going into criminology or working for the criminal justice system or something along those lines. It would be cool to actually go to a South African prison (my parents would love that) just to talk to people and actually hear what’s its like. I wonder if that’s at all possible.

Ok, that’s all the cool stuff about orientation. Wait no, I lied. We were supposed to watch this awesome movie made by a young black director but like always the time posted in the newspaper was not the correct time (you’d be surprised how often things like that happen around here….its part of the experience). So we didn’t which I was really looking forward to. But instead we just walked around the V & A Waterfront (Victoria and Albert) where there’s a mall, lots of shopping and restaurants and things of that nature. Adam, Joe and I broke off from the pack because let’s face it, I don’t do big groups. It always takes forever to make a decision and yeah, I’m not a fan. So we just wondered the mall, looking for nothing impractical (though I did find exactly what I wanted to get Loren) until we got hungry. First we went in to this restaurant, nothing fancy just order your food, get it and sit down. But of course, there were a bunch of British kids who were apparently in a group together. Now there were only a couple in front of us but then the rest of the them decided to show up so of course, now we have wait. So instead of waiting we wandered off again and found something even better: Cape Town Fish Market. It was so good and as always cheap. I ate like a pig that night. They had this deal where you could pick any starter, get any fish and choice your own dessert for 85 rand which is a little more than 10 American dollars. So of course, I got it. I had chicken spring rolls, calamari and noodles and cheesecake. That was a meal! So good I could have eaten it twice. Ok, not really I was stuffed by the end. It was just so good. I love eating fish here because its so fresh. Its amazing. So yeah that was my Saturday. It certainly ended well. I’m going to stop here for now. Peace y’all

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paddle, bitches!

Yesterday was an interesting day. I didn’t have classes (don’t hate) so I slept in until around 11. Jamie and I had already decided that we would be going to Muizenberg for the day to learn how to surf. So I got myself ready, made pancakes for myself and the girls, and went to the ATM so that I’d have cash for the day. There was however lots of confusion because our program director was supposed to be stopping by the house to give the girls who had just arrived the night before phones, chargers, etc. In addition, some more girls were supposed to be arriving as well. It worked out fine though the girls couldn’t leave the house really until they got their stuff so Jamie, Adam, Andrew and I ended up going to the train station by ourselves because everyone (i.e. the new girls and Joe) had to stay home for whatever reason.

Now this was my first experience on the train, so of course there was difficulties. First off, we miss our first train and not because we were late or anything but because we bought first class tickets and first class is the back and we for whatever reason sat waiting for the train in the front. So when the train rolled in we had to run all the way to the back which of course didn’t work. After missing the first train, we discovered that the next train wasn’t for another 40 minutes so we wondered around the city and found this cheap place that sold fish and chips (aka French fries). Jamie and I got calamari and chips for 25 rand which is a little over 3 American dollars and this wasn’t cheap really crappy fish that you could get sick from (at least I haven’t gotten sick yet), it was really good, fresh fish that cost almost nothing something I have never been able to find in the states especially living most of my life landlocked. The food took a little longer than expected but we got it and were able to make the next train in time.

The train ride was beautiful: mountains and water are either side of us. South Africa has got to be one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. I like to know where I am so every time we’d stop, I’d look out the window and look for the sign that told us where we were. Most of the time it would just fun trying to say that name of place like Steurberg or Valbai because most of the names are Afrikaans and no, I haven’t picked up on any of that yet. Most of the people I encounter speak Xhosa, which I want to learn but I’m not sure how to go about that.

Moving on, we got to Muizenberg and are immediately greeted by the ocean waves and lots of surfers on the beach. We set about finding surfing lessons which wasn’t hard at all. It took us about ten seconds to find the place we were looking for, but first we had to find the best price. The first place we stopped at charged us 170 rand for an hour and half lesson which another place was 220 rand. Needless to say we went with the first place. Our instructor was awesome. His name was Clint and he was hilarious. He is in fact the one that I named this post after because at one point he definitely told us to “paddle bitches.” Since Adam didn’t want to surf, he was our photographer for the day and he got some great shots (thank you Adam).

Surfing was really fun, but I’m not sure if I have enough coordination to do it. Clint seemed to think that my excitement about surfing in general kept me from standing up for very long. Don’t get me wrong, I did stand up several times but never for very long. He also said that I have a tendency to rush things which I know is true. I get so excited about the thought about standing on top of a wave that I barely take enough time to go through all the necessary steps to get there. But it was a blast. I love being in the ocean so much. It is one of my favourite things in this life. The water was pretty cold but we got wetsuits so it felt pretty good after you got moving in the water. I kept on drifting and struggling to stay deep in the water. The lesson was an hour and half long and it seemed like forever. Surfing takes a lot of energy. I ended up getting out early, which is very unusual for me in water, because I was so exhausted from the whole ordeal.

After we got out, Adam took more pictures and we rinsed off and walked around the beach some before our train came. Oh and we stopped at this restaurant called Knead. I had a chocolate chip muffin (I felt I deserved it) and some tea since I was freezing and the sun was starting to go down. It sucks because since its winter here, the sun goes down super early. Like today we went outside to take pictures and the sun had pretty set by 6:30.

After we got back to Mowbray (that’s where we live), I took a shower and then it was pretty much time for dinner. Arcadia sponsored this really nice dinner at this small restaurant where we were the only ones there and they cooked our meals to order. It was delicious. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that the dessert is called malva. It’s a great pudding unique to South Africa. It was like heaven. I’m going to try to find the recipe so I can make it myself. It was way too good.

After dinner, I pretty much went home, watched Scrubs and talked to Loren. I was exhausted after surfing and wanted to get some good sleep in for the long orientation that I just got back from this evening. Unfortunately my roommates had other plans. They came home pretty early like around midnight but didn’t go to bed rather they stayed out on the porch not exactly mimicking a church mouse. I felt bad but finally around 2:30am, I asked nicely if they could move somewhere else so I could sleep. They were really nice about it and there were no problems. I just hope that it doesn’t become a habit because that would not fly well especially once school starts. But I do understand. Most of them just got here and are totally excited to be in a country where the drinking age is 18. Hopefully it won’t turn into a problem. I have more to write about but that involves today so I’ll end here. I might write more later tonight. Night all

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First two days of school (part dos)

My class schedule was a bit off. One of the classes, Culture, Power and Wealth, which in the catalogue claimed to be a semester class was only a term class according to my print out. This was a problem because a term class is only worth two US credits, whereas a semester class is worth three US credits, which is what I counted on. So I went to the faculty of arts enquires to ask about it. I waited in line for two hours! The first ½ hour was fine because Adam was there and we entertained ourselves pretty effectively. But after he left, boredom set in and I tired to entertain myself with a book I’m reading. It’s called “To be young, gifted, and black” by Lorraine Hansberry. She is someone I know very little about but my grandfather had this old book (from the 1960s) at his house and since we’re constantly trying to get rid of stuff, I took it. I like it so far, although I have yet to get to the real content. I’ve read the introduction, the forward, and I think I have one more part to read before I actually start the book. However, reading while standing up isn’t exactly my forte so I eventually settled on playing snake on my cell phone (its an old Nokia). Needless to say, I got pretty good at it. Once I actually got to talk to someone. I was told to go to class and find out from the professor if it was a semester/term class, which is exactly what I’m doing (waiting for class to start). Luckily, the class is a semester so we’re all good.

I just came from that class. I’m really excited about it. The professor seems enthusiastic about it and I even talked more than once today. Right now I’m in the library, high enough so I can see most of campus and basking in the morning sun. Its freezing and I didn’t bring enough warm clothing. There’s no heat in the buildings but I’m surviving.

But back to class, we’re talking a lot about economics. Today the professor told us about “free trading spaces” which I still don’t get why they’re called that but whatever. According to him, the West which is basically synonymise with the economically developed are able to have high trading standard whereby all countries must compile with in order to sell their goods there. By the same token, if the West wants to build a factory overseas, they require that the third world country stifle strikes, maintain low wages and keep a labour force of poor young woman so that they are easy to exploit. Then he went on to talk about chocolate and how all of it (is is really all of it?) is picked by slaves. So now am I supposed to stop eating chocolate? It seems absolutely impossibly to buy affordable goods without the exploitation of others. I know it has become a sort of fads where places like Chipotle and Kaldi’s freely share their good business practice but does that mean I only shop there? What about clothing? Though I guess for the most part I buy second-had, but I’m not even sure if that’s much better.

The professor also talked about all the smoke and mirrors involved with the capitalist system. For example, when they say that the Dow Jones is up what does that really mean to me? Basically if its up, I assume all is well and nothing more. The numbers completely take away from the human aspect of it. I feel like they should redo that whole system so its more like: 100,000 woman were exploited and died for your Nike shoes, but don’t worry you’ll still be able to afford them. Whose hands made my clothes so I could buy them? Who is starving for my wealth? I know the world’s messed up, but it seems like I keep on finding out more and it never seems to end. I think what’s worse is the fact that you nor I can see it. I can look up right now and see a beautiful day and beautiful things and the reality of someone else’s life doesn’t even register. I feel like going on a crusade and liberating all those little girls (I say little girls because they are easier to exploit or that’s what the professor claims). But then what? How can we make this world better for not just some but all? Is that even possible? I can’t even begin to imagine what that world would look like. It would probably start with things Americans and I guess most people wouldn’t want to see the prize of their precious goods skyrocket. I can’t even imagine how much things would cost if fair labour were globab.

I guess all I can do is try to research businesses who do adhere to good business tactics, but honestly I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve heard Khol’s is bad and I know damn well, Walmart is probably one of the worst, but besides Kaldi’s and Chipotle, most businesses have me mystified to think only about the product and price not thinking about the people who made it possible.

I have been thinking about this and I’ve come up with a plan. I’m not sure if its plausible but I also feel like it needs to be done. What if I subjected myself to what the typical factory worker does? Something like the 30 day thing that that one guy did with McDonald’s but longer. Then I could write about it. The best way to understand people and therefore help is to subject yourself to the same. Just an idea throwing it out there to see if its worth the time. Though honestly I feel so helpless to do anything change this whole system that perhaps this one thing, this one book would make a small difference. I got some thinking to do…

First two days of school (part uno)

So I have yet to write about my orientation which took place last Wednesday. It’s a good distance from our house, so Ivan drove us there. The route there passes through lots of townships, with shacks pieced together with scraps of wood, metal, etc. It’s crazy to see the difference between a few blocks, which I’m used to because it’s the same around Belmont. But here its more extreme.

The campus is much bigger than Belmont’s, but I instantly feel in love. It’s beautiful. We got a campus tour which helped but I still feel like I’ll probably get lost. One thing I noticed was that all the people here are gorgeous. I don’t even understand, and there’s a lot of diversity, lots of colours and Africans. I should mention that the university was founded during the 1960’s for coloured only. Looking around campus, there are a few whites, so its kinda hard to believe apartheid is over in the first place. And I just noticed something else which is completely unrelated. I saw women greeting each other with hugs and kisses on the lips. I haven’t noticed that before so I wonder if that’s the norm. Another thing I’ve observed is that some guys wear pink. Now I’m not sure if that’s a signal that they’re gay, but I’ve noticed it more than once so I wonder if it is or its just accepted that guys were pink without being presumed gay. Another thing on clothing, most of it is American. Besides the maids who wear dresses, which I find interesting, most of the students wear jeans, Nikes, etc.

Let’s move on to register which we did on Thursday. That was an adventure. We first had to fill out an application in order to get a student id number. That took almost no time and the actual registration took no time. However the woman who was supposed to help us was no where to be found, so we waited walking back and front between the admin and international student office. The entire process took from 10am to 3pm. Apparently that was a new record. Usually it takes three days so I guess, we should count ourselves lucky.

In terms of my own registration, I was very thankful because Belmont definitely help prepare for what courses I wanted to take. I had my list; it worked with my schedule perfectly and as I was handing it in to the woman, she told me that one of my classes was not offered this semester (of course), which sucked because I had been counting on taking exactly those courses in order to fill my requirements back home. Although it was only one class looking for a new class was difficult since most of my schedule was set. It worked out though and I was able to find a course that worked and even convinced Adam to take it with me. The course is a soc class entitled social change and we had our first class this morning.

Classes here are a lot bigger than back home. If I had to guess, I’d say that there were about 30-40 students in the lecture hall. There were also a bunch of Marquette kids there too, so Adam and I sat behind them.

Class was interesting. First off the professor started off by saying that she knew most of us were third year students (there are only three years of undergrad here) and that we should be able to use the library before we graduate because if not our employers would think we were stupid. Now as an avid library lover, I couldn’t imagine going through high school let alone undergraduate school without using the library. She also said that we also all be able to read and write. I couldn’t believe my ears. How on earth could you go to school without those basic skills? I guess, that’s just another one of those things I take for granted.

The actual course content has to do with how different things affect change. She started off by saying that the modern world (I thought we were post modern but whatever) has more risks than in the past. But then later in her lecture she contradicted herself by saying that there aren’t more risks but different kinds of risks. Today most risks are manufactured by human (an example being pollution) whereas back in the day most of the risks were out of our control (i.e. natural disaster). Then she talked about how race and gender affect risk. For example, men in their early twenties pay more for car insurance than those in their thirties. All common sense stuff.

But one interesting thing that she mentioned was how all wars are over resources. She cited the war in Iraq as an example of people fighting over oil. I’m not sure how many Americans would feel about that. I think lots would still want to believe that we want over there in the name of freedom. I’m honestly not sure what I believe, but it wouldn’t surprise one bit if oil was the underlying reason.

Another interesting point that I’m not sure if I agree with is her ideas about difference. What I mean is her claim that people only become aware of difference when there’s conflict. Just being here in South Africa in a different university, I notice difference but I see no conflict. Maybe it has to do with perception. Because she cited xenophobia as an example and in that case I would agree. But in thinking about working at Chipotle last summer, I definitely noticed how some employees were Mexicanoes and spoke Spanish vs. English-speaking Americans.

So basically, it’s going to be an interesting class. The size scares me so I definitely have to get over my fear of speaking to large groups of people because so far it seems like it’ll always be that way no matter what the class.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cape Point, Penguins and fresh fish

It is 7/11 here in Cape Town, my first Saturday here. Last night I decided to stay in because I haven’t been feeling well. I blame lack of sleep. But thankfully, I slept like a rock last night and feel amazing. Plus I just got back from a fun so you know I feel great. I’m still not used to the time around here because I didn’t think it was that late when I woke come to find out its noon. Both Jamie and I woke up around the same time and I felt bad because the boys (Joe and Adam) came over, wanting to go to an internet cafĂ©. Last time we tried to go the place we wanted to go to ended up closing at fi ive. That’s one strange thing about here, everything closes early. I think its either because it’s the school holiday or because it’s winter here. It gets dark really early like around six.

But anyway, we were still getting breakfast ready, which for me was really lunch. Because of our fridge isn’t really working and I bought ground beef the other day and it needed to be cooked before it got spoiled. So I fired up the George Foreman and it turned out really well. I also had these small sweet rolls which I used for buns. I know exciting right?

I guess, I should talk about yesterday because it was a lot of fun. We went to Cape Point which is the very tip of Africa and also of course, the Cape of Good Hope. I was confused for a while about the difference between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. Basically I think the difference is that the Cape of Good Hope is the most south-western point of Africa and Bartholomeu Diaz from Portgual gave it its name and the Cape Point is just the tip of Africa. They’re basically in the same area. So we first went to the Cape of Good Hope and climbed up these cliffs and got to see an amazing view. I also believe the Cape of Good Hope is where the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans meet. I wish I had the words to describe it. It was just absoutley breaktaking and a feeling of complete and perfect peace washed over me. It was beautiful. I felt completely calm and completely in the moment, enjoying the sight of the ocean and the mountains and trying to take it all in through my camera. I doubt my pictures will do it justice, but at least they will remind me of these great experience.

After climbing up the cliffs and walking around, taking pictures, we decided to walk the path up the lighthouse which was one the other side of the mountain range (if that’s what you want to call it). The path didn’t look to long, but it was definitely deceiving. There was also a steep set of stairs that led down to a small secluded beach. We didn’t go down, but I think we’re going to try to go there once it gets warmer. Did I mention that it’s winter here? Yesterday was also the first cloudy semi-cold day, which was no good since the rest of the time have been sunny and bright. Still their winter and our winter are vastly different. It has probably only gotten to around 40 and that’s a night. During the day, it’s around 60 so of course it’s no where need the humidity of St. Louis but it doesn’t exactly require a large winter coat, though of course, since I’m almost always cold, I wears at least two or three layers to keep warm.
Back to the cape, the path to the lighthouse definitely took a lot out of us because once we got up to where the path ended at the parking lot (it continued up to the lighthouse), we all had to take a break. At least it was exercise and of course, you can’t beat the beautiful sights. And sometimes the sun would peak its little head outside of the clouds and the effect was glorious. I got some great shots of that and the mountains, simply beautiful.

At the parking lot, you could either pay 40 rand (the South African dollar) to go to the lighthouse or you could walk. Now 40 rand is not a lot. Its about 8 rand to the dollar so that’s about five bucks, but still if you can get there for free you might as well do it and get more exercise in the process. So we make our way up the steep path to the lighthouse and lose our breaths in the process or maybe that was just me. The lighthouse was pretty cool; it was actually a lot smaller than I was expecting. But they had one of the those cool signs that tells you how far away other places in the world our like New York, Syndey, Paris, etc. Again glorious sights, for example you could see a mountain and see ocean on either side of it and behind it more mountains.

By this time though, it’s around three and we have yet to eat lunch. I know I was ready for food, which I made known. Before we went to eat, we went to a natural reserve to see African penguins. They were so cute. I love the way the walk or I guess it’s more like waddling. There were tons of them, just chilling on the beach getting their sun tan on. Well not really, but a lot of them laying out soaking in the sun that finally decided to come out and stay.

After looking at the penguins, we went back to the harbor where we stopped on the way there (forgot to mention that part). There we had the best fish I have ever had. They really didn’t have any fish that I knew about besides calamari and since I had had that a few nights before, I asked Ivan (our wonderful driver) what was good. He said the shoek was good, so I got that. It was delicious, so fresh and it was crazy cheap. It was about 25 rand for shoek and chips, which is a little more than three dollars.

That pretty much describes yesterday. I went home and since I wasn’t feeling well, I stayed in, watching Scrubs and talking to my family and Loren until I finally went to bed and enjoyed the best sleep I’ve had in a long time. Stay tuned for more soon. peace

Friday, July 10, 2009


I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this yet, but it bares mentioning. Its strange how basic things like electricity is different here. Electricity isn’t paid for by the month or even by the year like in the US. Its pay-as-you-go which is actually how a lot of things are paid for in this country. Of course, I’m used to hearing about pay-as-you-go phones so that’s not weird. But the internet, though it’s wireless, is also pay-as-you-go which kinda sucks because things like video chat or downloading anything off the internet uses a lot of your money.

Another thing that’s different is the outlets in general. It takes some getting used to but all the outlets here are grounded. So if you plug something into an outlet, you first have to turn it on. Now that I’m thinking about it, there are those in the states but not all of them like they are here. Plus all the light switches are the same switch for the outlets. So if it’s red then it’s on, if not its off, which I’m still not used to yet, since this morning I tried heating water for tea and couldn’t figure why it wasn’t working until, of course I figured it out. Anyway, I know this is kinda a random post but there are so many things to write about some times I think I’ll write by subject instead a stream of thoughts because often there’s tangents and don’t talk about what I actually wanted to write about. The point is I’m trying something new with this whole blog thing and I’m not sure if I like my writing thus far. I’m sure I’ll get the hang out it eventually. Much love J

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I also forgot to talk about Kirstenbosch which is apparently the largest botantical garden in the world. It puts the St. Louis botanical garden to shame, but I guess, I shouldn’t complain because it is free. In any case, it was beautiful. You have the mountains towering above you on one side and if you climb high enough, you can see a good portion of the city below. Of course, I took tons of pictures which I’ll post when I can to facebook. There were so many cool plants that I’d never seen before.

Best of all there were all sorts of people there. All with great accents, lots of British accents actually, which doesn’t really surprise me since the British at one time settled in South Africa. But still, it was also in other ways surprising because when I initially think of South Africa, I think of the black South Africans and Afrikaans. But of course, South Africa is much more complex than that and that’s all for now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So much to write, so little time (and sleep)

What a day. It started out well…sorta. I couldn’t sleep last night. I went to bed around 11:30pm after talking to Katie and Loren via Skype which is now my new best friend. I felt tried after hanging up with Katie but I still couldn’t sleep. Too many thoughts running through my head, plus I was really excited about today since it was orientation. So yeah, the whole sleeping thing didn’t work. But of course, it’s to be expected. There’s a seven hour time difference between here and home. It takes time to adjust. Andrea said that the second night was tougher and she was indeed right. And of course as soon as I got to sleep, my alarm rang at 7:45am since Ivan (our driver) was picking us up at 8:30am and I needed to shower.

And the shower didn’t go well. The hot water definitely did not work and unfornately I had gotten on facebook to write Loren a message and then Ashley messaged me, which I was really happy about. I’m going to make a conscious effort to stay in touch with people from home. But basically, I got distracted for a bit too long before I took and shower and got ready to go. It all worked out well though. Ivan arrived and we actually didn’t have to be at UWC until 9:30am (instead of 9am like we planned) so we went to McDonald’s of all places. I got coffee for once, since I barely slept. It helped a little but not as much as I liked to.
So right now I have so much to write but so little time. When am I going sleep? Probably when I’m dead and buried because I don’t want to sleep I just want to explore this beautiful city and all it has to offer.

I guess I’ll start with tonight since it’s so fresh in my time. Tonight the fabulous four (Jamie, Adam, Joe and me) went to Shop Rite for food so we could cook dinner. That was fun. I’m not exactly a good cook and actually none of us are cooks at all. We’re hoping the other students who are coming next week will be cooks and be able to help us. But we actually managed well. It took us a while to find pasta and sauce but we eventually did so that was our dinner. And of course, we’re in South Africa which is famous for its wine so we decided to try some. It was alright, I guess. I honestly know nothing about wine so its hard to judge but I guess I’ll be better at that eventually. I know it’s weird since in US we’re all underage, but I just really like the idea of sipping wine while having a meal. It was fun.

Moving on, I mean that was great and all. But the night got better. Jamie has some friends who go to Marquette (she’s from Wisconsin) and they are also going to UWC. I met some of them today. They’re seemed pretty cool. So tonight we decided to meet up with them at their house. It’s actually within walking distance of our house. So we made the ten minute trek to their house but actually it was probably more like a half an hour since we didn’t really know where we were going and got lost. But it all worked out well. We got the house, which is really nice but feels really cramped since there are a total of 19 people living there. It really makes me appreciate our living situation especially now. It’s just Jamie and I in a six bedroom house and Adam and Joe have an even bigger place to themselves. That’ll change in less than a week but since there won’t be 19 in one house.

Anyway, I met this girl during orientation who also goes to Marquette. It was funny because she was sitting alone staring out the window looking like she didn’t want to be there. So I did the whole argument in my head: I should go talk to her. No, that’s weird. But I’m in a different country, I should stretching myself. But…but…Yeah so I did and I’m really glad I did because after the initial awkwardness, we really hit it off. Her name is Dominique by the way. We basically became instant friends because we just share a lot in common. Same love for music and dancing and she loves Boondocks. So I mean, c’mon I love Boondocks. I can quote it and she knows what I’m talking about it.

I feel bad though because she really doesn’t get along with the other Marquette students and in a house with 19 people, I probably would hate it too. We have an extra room so perhaps she can hang out here so we have plenty of space, especially now.

Dominique, Adam and I just ended up hanging out at a bar, since she had met this bartender via her friend who used to go to Marquette or something like that. It was so much fun. They played great music (for the most part) so dancing was hard to resist. All the bartenders there were really cool. Oh, Dominic is the name of the bartender Dominique met. Yeah that’s right Dominic and Dominique. He was really great. We talked about critique, music, Jamaica, basically everything.

The plan was to go to Long Street which we honestly know nothing about since we’re still a bit new to this town (it’s my third night here) and at orientation they made it sound like an awful place where you don’t want to go. But it sounded interesting and especially since we’d be with Dominic. Unfornutaly that did not work out since Dominic was supposed to get off at 11pm and we definitely did not leave the bar until after 11:30pm. There was just complications since I was the only one who had keys for Jamie and I’s place. Blah, blah, blah. Basically it didn’t work, which is probably best because we still have not registered for classes. That’s supposed to happen tomorrow morning. Oy, morning I don’t even want to look at the clock because I know its late and I still have to wake up fairly early. Not as bad as yesterday but still early. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I have so much more to share but my bed calls to me. Good night all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mean Green

Well, this is frustrating. I tried to access my bank account online for the first time in a while so of course I forget the online ID. I go through the usual steps to get that information but after several attempts, I gave up. So I decide to call the bank. Bad decision after I almost get the whole situation resolve (the bank has a hold on my account because of all the overseas transactions) my cell phone runs out of minutes. Wonderful. So then Jamie suggests calling my parents for help, which of course is a good idea. But first I decide to try one more time to call the bank via Skype. Also a bad decision. For whatever reason I couldn’t figure out how to type in my account number and saying it didn’t work either. So I hang up and finally call my dad. The bank apparently had already called the house about this issue but for whatever reason my parents didn’t resolve. Basically, my dad’s going to try to resolve since all my attempts have failed. I’m hoping to get this resolved soon because I have money but not as much as I’d liked to and of course since my account is on hold I won’t be able to transfer or withdrawal any funds. It’s funny how something so simple like getting money is such a huge overdeal. Oh well, it was to be expected. Luckily, I’m not freaking out that much and my dad supposed to e-mail within the hour with information on what happened. Hopefully, this’ll all work itself out soon.

Chilling at the house

It is now almost noon in South Africa. I met Jamie and Ivan yesterday at the airport. To my relief, I did not leave the airport alone. Ivan is our driver. He’s lived in South Africa all his life and seems to be a great guy. Since it was night when I got here, I really didn’t get to see much but I still got to see Table Mountain in all its glory.

Can I just say that already this place is rocking my world. It’s so beautiful and different and yet in some ways it reminds me a lot like home. From what I’ve seen so far, it seems to be very segregated. For example, Ivan is I guess what you’d say “colored” but I’m not sure. He kinda reminds me of Mexicanos. Also there’s our maid. Yeah that’s right we have a maid. Her name escapes me right now but she also seems very nice. She comes three times a week to clean. I can’t believe we have a maid!

And did I mention the house. I mean I guess I should call it an apartment but really it’s a house. There are two bathrooms, two kitchens, a living room and six single bedrooms! I get my own room without having to be at home. I may stay here just for that reason.

But anyways, what I was trying to say is as we were driving to our place, I couldn’t help thinking: no wonder white people like it here. All the black people are in their “place” and what I mean by that is the place of servitude. It just reminds of Belmont with its very few black teachers and staff and Kirkwood which is very much the same. I wanted to come here to escape that and I guess in a way I did. Getting off the plane was great because most the people I saw were black including those helping out at customs. The guy I went to was really great and asked me why it took me so long to get here. He also went to UWC (university of the western cape) but didn’t really like it.

So I’m here. It’s great and the next couple of days are supposed to be really stressful. We’re supposed to be registering for classes. I hope that I’m able to get the ones I requested.

Oh and I should share my first experience at the grocery store. There’s a shop rite right down the street from our house. Oh and a liquor store, which is unfornate because that means lots of homeless people are sitting outside of it drinking. L but back to shop rite. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole having money coming out of my ears thing, everything seems overpriced (but American standards) and I’m not sure if that’s exactly true. But anyways, when I went to pay, I gave the woman my money and she said something as she was handing me back some of my change. It was really bad because I couldn’t understand her. I think she was telling me to wait for the rest of my change or something. It was really embrassing. I’m going to have to learn Xhosa so I can not have another experience like that. I felt so bad for not being able to understand her.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out the money situation because I have no idea how much I have spent. I bought some internet time at the Amsterdam airport and that was 12 Euros which I have no idea how much that is in American dollars and called my parents no idea how much that was and yeah, so I’m going to attempt to call bank of America and see if I can transfer some money. I may just need to go to ATM but I’d really rather not…

We did end up going to the ATM but it didn't really help because I can't transfer money. But I did inquire on the amount so at least I know what I have. Andrea (the program director) is picking us up around three so we can meet Joe whose also a student studying at UWC. I think I'll nap til then. Fair thee well

On the plane from Amsterdam to Cape Town

I'm about to start an twelve hour journey to Cape Town. I'm not sure if I'll be able to stand it. Thankfully, I got to talk to Loren for about an hour and he made me feel better.

I haven't slept well lately. The night beofre I left the country (Saturday night) I barely slept. Now it's Monday morning (because of the time change) and I have yet to catch up on sleep. I'm exhausted. I'm hoping I'll get some sleep on the way to Cape Town, but who knows? I tried sleeping on the flight to Amsterdam and that failed miserably.

This plane is pretty nice. Not as big as the last one but it has indiviaul TVs which is nice. To get to my seat I had to walk through first class which was cruel and unusal punishment because they have so much space up there. It's crazy.

Let's recount the flight to Amsterdam. I was scared for the first hour or so. the thought of being in the air over the ocean for so long gave me pause but after a while the mind normalizes it and it becomes just another place, except for the fact that I feel utterly crushed into a very small space. I haven't really exercised since Wednesday and it's driving me a bit insane. Hopefully, Tuesday I'll be able to do something. I'm really nervous that I'll get to Cape Town and end up alone. Once I get there it'll be time to sleep. I hope I'll be able to.

But back to the flight, there was lots of snacks and drinks and stuff which was nice because I was very hungry when I got on. I had chicken and rice and we also got breakfast. It was all good.

There was a lot of tv shows like the Simpsons and Everybody hates Chris on which surprised me I figured there'd be a foreign film or something. Insted they played 17 Again with Zack Efron which I enjoyed because he's got a nice bod. I wasn't sure if I liked the storyline at first. It was about this guy who was really disappointed with his decision to not go to college and play basketball and instead choosing to marry his gf who happened to be pregnant. But of course, it all worked out well. He realized when he turned 17 again that he would have choosen her all over again (awww). It was cute and reminded me of Loren and what a great guy he is. I feel so lucky, but I won't lie. I'm nervous about these next 4 1/2 months without him. I'm hoping it'll all work out though as long as I just take it one day at a time. Plus now I feel better since Jamie also has a boyfriend back home....

I was able to get some sleep off and on. We're about to land and I'm really nervous. I can't believe I'm here. I'm hoping everything will be find and I'll be able to get my luggage and everything. The flight went pretty well. Long but since I slept so often it didn't seem so bad. I'm hoping that I'll be able to sleep tonight. I feel exhausted and anxious. I was just watching Doubt but since we're landing I wasn't able to finish. It's an interesting story. I wish I could finish. Well, we're about to land so I better go. Wish me luck

In Toronto's Airport

So I am currently sitting in Toronto’s international airport waiting for my plane. It arrives in two hours. Getting through security was a lot easier than I expected. In fact, I got in and out in about twenty minutes. Right now, I’m really nervous and still in disbelief about this trip. It seems so unreal. I have been preparing for this trip for so long, it seems strange that it’s actually here.

I guess I should explain a little what I’m doing here. I’m waiting for a plane that will take me to Amsterdam which will then take me to Cape Town, South Africa. I will be studying at the University of the Western Cape and staying for four months, two weeks and two days (yes, I counted).

I really have nothing to say right now. I’m excited and nervous. So I guess I’ll talk about the last couple weeks because those have been exciting. I’ll go from the most recent to the least.

My family and I drove to upstate New York last Thrusday. We stayed overnight in Dayton and I was hoping to get to see Winnie’s school (The University of Dayton). But that never happened. Basically we drove all the way up to Buffalo, which I had no idea was so close to the border between the US and Canada. It took us a while to find a place to stay since it’s a holiday weekend but we finally settled at a Motel 6 that was relatively close to the border and Niagra Falls. After dropping off our lungage, we went and explored the Niagra Falls region, which too our surprise included lots of Indians and lots of other people too; the diversity was amazing especially compared to Kirkwood and even Belmont, both mostly black and white which can get boring.

But anyways, since Winnie had an expired passport, we weren’t sure if he would be allowed across the border or even be able to get back in so we took one of the pedestrian bridge to get across just to see if we could. It worked out fine but not after I had to go back to van and get my passport and then the boys had to get everyone else’s papers because mom forgot them. But in the end, we were able to cross over.

I’m not sure what I was expecting I guess in my mind the Niagra Falls were these grand falls unbelievable to behold. But it was nothing like that at least when looking at them from Canada. They looked so small from across the river, but they were much better up close (more on that later).

And Canada itself was not too exciting. I could barely tell I was in a different country if it wasn’t for the flags and the speed limit in km instead of miles, which really annoyed me. Most of the world uses the metric system but Americans are too good for that. I don’t even know the reason why we don’t. It just puts us at a real disadvantage when you’re overseas because I always have to think: ok, 1 km is 1000 meters which is a little more than a ½ a mile and then try to figure out the distance that way. But that’s enough on that.

Basically, on Friday we explored a little bit of Canada and saw some fireworks, which were pretty cool but fairly short. That’s it for now. I’ll write more later.