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

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