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.

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