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…

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