Nicole in South Africa, spring 2010
Update before the South African Road trip!

So a few updates before my Road trip!

Last week was the last week of classes! I had an exam on Tuesday and my last jewellery class on Thursday (yay!). Thursday morning we took the Kayamandi pre-primary kids to the Tygerberg zoo. It would have been fun except it was POURING! It is beginning to be winter here and in the Western Cape, that means rain lots of it. It was a down pour with 200 kids outside in a zoo. It was NOT fun. I’m going to miss the kids so much though! I can’t believe it was my last time with them. They are so great and they have so much going for them. I hope they keep doing what they have been doing and succeed. It would make me so happy to learn that in years to come they were able to get out of the township to a better life and going to college and have a great future. They are such great kids, I can’t stop saying it. I hope I can come back one day in the future and see the school again and see what it has become.

Friday was the AIFS end of the semester party. We went out to dinner all together, and it was the last time all of us will be together, crazy! It was a really nice dinner. During it there were superlatives, and Katherine and I got “Best Roommates”. Damn straight we are! After the dinner a bunch of us went to aanklass(spelling no idea, but it is something like that). It was a lot of fun, they played great music that night too. 

Last night, the 10th, I went out with a few people and to celebrate the end of the semester, we may have done a few or more shots. (sorry to my family). It was fun and I was responsible and alive :). We also taught them how to make a malibu bay breeze! The other girls told them to call it the Nicole Sara though. I was so excited when the bartender said they had Cranberry juice because NOWHERE else do they have it. The first one we made we made it in a small bucket. It was a good time. He also let me keep the bucket :). 

So TOMORROW I leave on my road trip across South Africa! I am SO excited for it. It is going to be such a good experience seeing the rest of the company. Our itinerary is as follows: 

1. Stellenbosch to Port Elizabeth

Stay at Hippo Backpackers: Phone number- 041 5856350 

2. Port Elizabeth to Hogsback

Stay at away with the fairies: Phone number- (045) 962 1031

3. Hogsback to Lesotho

Stay at Khotso Mountain Lodge: Phone number- 033-7011502

4. Lesotho to Durban

Stay at Hippo Hide Lodge & Backpackers: Phone number-(0)31 209 2581

5. Durban

6. Durban

7. Durban to Swaziland

8. Swaziland to Hoedspruit

Stay at Maduma Boma Game Conservancy, Klaserie, Limpopo: Phone number- 015 793 2813

9. Hoedspruit to Johannesburg 

Stay at 1322 Backpackers International: Phone number- 0123623905

10. Johannesburg to Kimberly

(Staying at Charl’s friends house)

11. Kimberly to Stellenbosch

(I just copied and pasted what I had to send to the family and Hestea etc.) So if you need to get in touch with me there are the phone numbers! I bought a notebook today to keep track of everyday and document it all. The next time I write on this, it will be a long post about my trip. I hope everyone has a great next 10 days! 


Past 3 weeks

OK so starting out with 3 weekends ago…

A few of us went to crystal pools. Basically we had to hike through some mountains and then there are natural pools. There are about five pools. We got to the first one and decided to take a dip since we were all sweating. After that one we got to the second one. Once we got there, we had to swim through the pool and then climb up some rocks to get the the second, then third, fourth, to fifth. Finally at the last pool there was this huge mountain to climb. It is a really bad idea to climb these rocks, especially when you are wet. It was a little difficult to climb while wet. Let’s just say I had a few near death experiences that I saw my life flash before my eyes. Once we got to the top of the mountain though we were able to see so clearly, cape point. It was incredible. I wish I had my camera to take a picture of this view. It was absolutely gorgeous. Finally we made it back down and jumped off a cliff into the pool. We then headed back to the pool where we left our stuff. Half of us took a trail, the other half, the stupidest way you could go. Guess which way I went? Of course I take the way that you really should not go. We only had our toes on the smallest edges at times, but luckily we made it down safely. We finally headed out way back to the car and back to school.

Unfortunately during this week I got sick. BOO, I felt awful, but Saturday was the South African Wine and Cheese Festival, so I had to go.

The next weekend was the South African Wine and Cheese Festival. Lets just say, it was lots of fun. I may have been drunk before 11am. Bad idea when you are sick, but great experience. We got there and we all got wine glasses. Then there were many booths with people from wine farms, those that make cheese, and then there was a lot of pesto, oils, desserts, and breads. Everything I ate that day was delicious. I even got some oil that was so delicious. I had never tasted any oil like it. I can’t wait to bring it home for everyone else to try as well. We also got wine glass holders, can’t wait to use that one in school either ;).

Finally onto this past weekend! On Friday we got tickets to the Die Antwoord concert. They are a South African group that are so talented and so good. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen live. Listening to them on a cd does not do them justice. However, there lyrics are apparently very vulgar (there lyrics are in Afrikans a lot), but still very talented. There was also a DJ that is 25 and has progeria. He is so talented and it is a miracle that he is still alive, since he was not supposed to live past 16. It was such a fantastic concert, I wish I could re-live it over and over again.

This week is the last week of classes. I have one final on Tuesday and then just have to finish a jewelery project. After that, I am done. It is so weird that I have one more month here. On the 12th however, 5 of us are leaving for a road trip and coming back the 24th. I am very excited about that one, and will write more about it just before the trip. 

Robben Island

Before I get to Robben Island.. just a few updates.

So, can’t recall dates BUT

Katherine and I made food for an international food fair that the school had. I will proudly say that we homemade apple pies. When I say homemade that includes the crust! We got so many compliments it was very thrilling. Second good news off of that is that we won 2nd place! It was awesome. We deserved first because many people that complimented were not able to vote because they did not get stickers. Damn those french.

I also joined the gymnastics team here. Hold your laughter. It is their social season so it is really just for fun. I am basically the comic relief for everyone. But I have learned a few things and I’m working on my casts on the bars. It’s a lot of fun and I have met a lot of awesome people that we have started to go out with. 

Katherine and I also have started hanging out with Charl a lot. He is a local South African and he is super nice. Katherine and him are adorable together too ;). He took us to the Somerset Mall which was fun to go through as well. 

Alright, on to Robben Island.
This previous Saturday morning we woke up early to head to Cape town to catch the ferry. We finally arrived at Robben Island where we were led by a prior prisoner who was arrested. It was awesome and really interesting to learn what he had to say.  We got a tour of the prison which included seeing Neson Mandela’s jail cell. First, if I was put on that island, I would go insane. Being separted for all that time? Nuts! People actually live on the island freely, it is beautiful but, I like more communication with me. Seeing the cell, and imagine being in there for more than 30 min. I would go insane as well. It is so tiny with a small window and not even a cot to sleep on, but a mat. It was unbelievable to learn about the conditions Mendala and other political prisoners had to seep in.

After we got back from Robben Island, we went to the VA Waterfront Mall to get some lunch. We walked around the mall a bit. The mall is HUGE, we had not a a clue as to where we were going. All in all though it was fun. Something that I find interesting about malls in general here is that they have grocery stores inside. I have never seen that in the states. I just find it fascinating to see people wheeling shopping carts around the mall after they just went shopping for food. Whatever floats their boat though.

That was really it for the day. Recently, Katherine, Vanessa, Julie, Charl and I have been planning our trip in May! Long story short we are taking a road trip through South Africa. I’m so excited! We are starting in Cape town, renting a car and driving towards the East. I can’t wait for it to be all planned and I can’t wait to start the trip!

I have 3 more weeks of classes, which includes the finals week! It has been such an incredible semester and I can’t wait to still continue this adventure.

I miss everyone from home so much, especially recently. I have been missing my family more than ever, my friends and phi sig more than ever, and of course David more than ever. I can’t wait to be home and see everyone, but I am having the time of my life here and I would not trade this for the world. I love you all!  

Garden Route

I know I have not posted here in a while. Before I left for our Garden Route trip, it was the same old story. Went to class, hated jewlery class, went to Kayamandi and played with the kids (which big thanks to the ladies of Phi Sigma Sigma for donating supplies to the school and David/ his school that he teaches at for donating as well).

On Saturday March 13th, the AIFS group left at 4:45 in the morning to head on our way on the Garden route. I was not too thrilled about waking up so early, but it was totally worth it. It was a very long drive to get to our first destination. The first stop we made was in Outdshron (sp?), where we went to an ostrich farm. There we learned about ostrich’s got to watch them run, fed them, and then we had the chance to ride the ostriches. It was insane. When I can I will put up my pictures immediately. They run fast and they are wild. It was such a great experience to ride an ostrich. How many other people can say that they did that?!

When we left there we went to these things called the Cango Caves. There we went through caves that someone discovred thousands of years ago. There we went through really tiny caves, that the pictures do not do justice. I do not know how we all fit through, but we did. You have to crawl into really tiny spaces, it was nuts, be so awesome.

Finally, we were done with that and we went to our first destination that we were staying at called Buffel’s Bay. It was BEAUTIFUL. It is a backpackers that was right on the beach. Obviously Katherine and I had our own room since we are a married couple. It was absolutely goreous though. That night Mama H led the group of girls onto the beach for a secret meeting.

The next morning we were taken to an elephant park where I got to feed elephants and pet them. It was so amazing. I can’t believe that I got to actually feed an elephant. Also, our group had the opportunity to see a pre-mature baby elephant because Mama H knows the owner that well since she goes there every semester. It was so cute and so sad since it is so helpless. Hopefully the elephant will do well though!

Once we left we went to a Rastifaran community. There we got to learn about their lifestyle which was so informative and very intersting to learn. They really believe in equality between men and woman and the weed issue, they believe that it is a form of meditation, and their translation of the Bible is that anything from the earth is o.k., we should use the natural resources. It was just very intersting to listen to and an experience that I would never have had the chance to get if I did not come abroad to South Africa. Also there I got a really pretty scarf that I fell in love with ;).

After that we went back to the backpackers, where we all just hung out, laid out on the beach etc. That dinner that night was delicious I remember, it was fish that was on the braai and it was absoultey fantastic. Then the surprise that night for us is that the Rastas came to put on a concert for us, which was so awesome to listen to.

The next morning we packed up all our stuff to go to the next destination. First we went to Tankiwa and Monkeyland. At Tankiwa we got to pet cheetahs leopards and other feline animals. It was so neat to actually be so close to a cheetah and pet it. You will see in the pictures how close I got.

At Monkeyland, we did exactly what it sounds like, we saw monkey’s galore. We took a trail in basically the woods. Apparently the monkey’s are kleptos and take people’s things so we had to make sure we carried our things tightly. It was awesome seeing so many monkey’s though, and again, you will see the pictures soon!

After Monkeyland we went to the next backpackers which was Antler’s Lodge. It was so nice and different form the first. It was more of Cabins, brown and green rather than all blue from the ocean. It was gorgeous. Obviously, once again, Katherine and I got the only cabin with only two beds. It was beautiful where we were. That night we all basically just hung out. I played with the dogs obviously. There were two dogs, one large, one small. The little one, the boy, was humping the big one. I thought it was hilarious looking at how that dog would jump onto the big one. I was entertained.

The next morning some people went kayaking and took a boat ride, but a few of us decided to just go to the beach instead. It wasn’t that nice out, so I ended up going back a little earlier and took a shower etc. It was still nice to lay out for a while and just relax. That night Mama H took us out to eat at a pizza place that is right on the beach. The pizza was excellent and the night was a lot of fun. When we got back we all mostly just hung out once again.

The next morning we packed up our stuff again, however, we split up into two groups. One group who was going on the canopy tour, and the next group, who went to go bungee jumping. I did the later. It is the highest bungee jump in the world, I have the pictures of the Guiness World Records picture to prove it. It is 216 m. the bridge. That morning at breakfast I was so nervous it was crazy. When we got there I got more excited but I was still SO nervous. Wouldn’t you be jumping off a bridge; Let alone the tallest? Anyway, once the first person went down (Julie) I got SO excited. There is a little video to watch the person go. I was so pumped to go. Finally it was my turn, and I got the edge, heard “4, 3, 2, 1, Bungee” and down I went. It was the most exhilarating feeling and most incredible thing I have ever done. I wish I could explain the feeling, but there is no way I could ever describe it. I do have pictures, and a video to show everyone of me doing it!

Once that was done we went to the next backpackers which was in Jeffery’s Bay which is the hot spot for surfing. Also, Billabong, originated there so I went into that store it was awesome. We all stayed in this one large beach house which was cool. We also got there on st. patrick’s day so we all celebrated that night at the bar. Then I and a bunch of us just hung out on the couches downstairs and watched people come in. It was a good time.

The next day people had the chance to learn how to surf, sandboard, and go horse back riding, but I tried to surf before, didn’t feel the need to do it agian, didn’t want to go horseback riding, and I had no interest in sandboarding, so Katherine and I stayed on the beach. The sun was out and it was so nice. I def. got color which was great. However, little ms. Julie on the other hand got kicked by a horse, so she had to go to the hospital and she is swollen. Luckily nothign is broken, and she is on crutches and just has to wait a little bit for it to feel better. The next day we left to go back home.. A long 8 hour drive.

Overall the Garden Route was absolutely AMAZING. I had so much fun and such great experiences I could never even imagine having if I did not come here. It was the absolute best choice and best experience to come here.

The next day, the 20th of March I got to see mommy, aunt feli and Irwin! It was so nice to see them, even if we all do drive each other crazy! I missed them a lot and home. Now that they left I am now homesick. And it was bittersweet because daddy couldn’t be here :(. Also, I haven’t had the chance to speak to the grandparents because my computer is broken and they have been away :( Luckily though, until my computer is fixed, Irwin will give me the little one that he brought for me to use.

Saturday, Drew, took us all on a wine tour which was a lot of fun to be with my family and see how they reacted to that. I got to sleep in their apartment which was fabulousssss <3. Overall it was so great to see them and it was such a great week :). Too bad it is over and now I have to get back to work :(.

Kayamandi / Cape Point / Boulder’s Penguins!

Kayamandi – 11th of February

Today was the first day that we started our lesson plan on our own. The theme was “My Family and I”. What they recommend on doing is making a poster and have the key words in Xhosa as well as in English so the kids can learn English. Once we taught them words such as, mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, and uncle; the students were supposed to color a picture of their family that lives in their house. For an example, Stefan and I made a picture of our families which all consisted of four people (me with a brother and him with a sister). When looking at the kid’s pictures, we realized that they copied our picture. We now know for next time. I would say it was a successful day though. I learned some Xhosa words as well. “Yima” means stop. I say it a lot to the kids.

Cape Point/Boulder’s Penguins- 14th of February 17, 2010

Valentine’s Day in South Africa. Although I would have loved to be at home with my boyfriend for Valentine’s day, (even though he wrote a really cute letter), it was a great day. Plus nobody wore pink and red to make me sick. We first got to Boulder’s and got to watch penguins. I thought they were fake at first, but they were so awesome to look at. There were many love birds which was adorable. I took some videos as well of them walking. We then had the option to stay where we were, head back towards the bus at a little beach, or go the other way to another beach with some other penguins, so we decided to head there. There we saw more penguins and we weren’t stuck on a boardwalk like we were on the last area so we got to get very close to the penguins. However, there were signs not to get too close because apparently they bite. We still got pretty close, and I took videos again.

We then left for Cape Point. It was such an awesome view. We walked to the top to a lighthouse and we were at the point where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. It was just beautiful to look at. I can’t describe it in words. There were also signs of big cities and the way the cities were. It was awesome to see the direction of NYC and how far it was. It’s far.

February 7 - Kayamandi and Shark Cage Diving

This past thursday, the 4th of February I went to Kayamandi, which again is a township around the area. A quick overview of Kayamandi and what I am doing there is as follows, (the information they sent us)

The ‘Kayamandi Project’ began in 1998 after members of the International Student Organisation Stellenbosch (ISOS) decided that they had valuable skills and ideas that could be put to use for the benefit of the local community. The children of Ikaya Primary School were targeted as the group that ISOS would focus on. When ISOS began its voluntary efforts they included tutoring English in 7th grade classrooms on Wednesday afternoons, Arts and Crafts on Fridays, and Sports for an hour on Fridays. Since then the project has gone through a number of changes to improve upon the quality of services delivered and to accommodate the various participants from the greater Stellenbosch community.

The project relies upon ISOS as its human resource base and works in collaboration with school staff to provide an opportunity for International Students and South African students to render supplementary educational services to Ikaya Primary School students while furthering their knowledge and experiences in South Africa.

ISOS-Kayamandi Project Aims:

ð To render supplementary educational services to targeted groups in Kayamandi.

ð To provide International Students with an opportunity to become involved first hand in the local community, experiencing and learning more about South Africa’s cultures, people, and the dynamics of the greater Stellenbosch community.

ð To create constructive interaction between members of the various sub-communities in Stellenbosch, fostering integration, solidarity, and tolerance between University Students and the greater Stellenbosch Community.

Pre-primary Teacher’s Assistants

The ISOS-Kayamandi Project’s involvement at Ikaya Pre-Primary School has grown over the years as consultation with school staff and administrators indicated areas of need and a willingness to work together. Involvement at the pre-primary has been one of the examples of how this relationship has been built, beginning in 2005 and continuing through to today.

As the pre-primary has grown, so have the efforts of our volunteers. Initially in 2005, this Grade R programme housed some 100 learners. Today, it now conducts daily classes with over 250 pre-primary students. Volunteer involvement is limited to one-day a week but the additional help was made a significant impact on the overall functioning of the pre-primary classrooms, as evidenced by feedback from the teachers and the sentiment of school students and staff.

Over the course of our involvement, volunteers have also helped to provide the school with much educational and material support. Many students have taken the initiative to do private fundraising through which to furnish the pre-primary classrooms (students now have tables whereas they used to kneel on the floor and write on their chairs).

I had to wake up at 7 to meet at the international office by 8:00 in the morning. After a Wednesday night it was difficult (wed. nights are their big party nights). However, it is so well worth it. We arrived at Kayamandi and the coordinator, Mike, put us into groups of two. My partner is Stefan, from Germany, who is 24 and who is doing his thesis here. We got to sit in a classroom of 31 adorable children and observe the teacher, Nono. The children were SO happy to see us. As soon as they walked in they all waved and gave us a thumbs up. They then colored in a picture of apples and when they were completed they practiced writing their names. When they were done with that they came over to Stefan and I to play with them. I learned a new hand game in which I have  NO idea what they were saying because they only speak iXhosa. Some of the children were able to understand a little of what I was asking them like when I asked what their name was, but most just gave us blank stares. They then all began kissing us on the cheeks. They also all fought over who would be next to us. During recess they all fought who would be holding my hand. Two of the kids were really pushing each other around for my hand, it was insane, and it is difficult because I can’t tell them to stop because I don’t know the language. Mike though gave us a sheet of words to know such as stop, yes, no, how are you etc., to learn in iXhosa so we can communicate and hopefully I will pick it up some how. When we do lesson plans it will be in English because while doing it we will be teaching them English. This week’s lesson plan is about ‘My Family and I’. Nono will translate what we are saying. What is interesting about this lesson plan is that thinking about my class, education- diversity and multiculturalism we learned that we have to be sensitive and include everyone through these type of topics, and a lot of these kids only live with their mom, or their aunt is a care taker or their grandparents. Stefan and I are meeting tomorrow to go over a lesson plan, so it we will see how we do it, but it will definitely be a great and interesting experience that I’ll keep writing about every week.

Cage Shark Diving-

I actually do no know if it is cage shark diving or shark cage diving, but either way there were 8 of us who went from our program (and then other random people were on the boat as well) so we all had to meet at 5 am at the gates where we live. Not fun. I woke up at 4:30, just not fun at all, however, totally and well worth it. They organize transportation which was nice so it was about a two hour drive to our destination. While there they served us breakfast which was lovely. When everyone was there, we went and had a briefing about what we would be doing as well as information about the sharks. We learned that Great White Sharks don’t actually eat everything in their path way and what they are trying to do to protect the Great Whites. We also learned how exactly we would be cage shark diving. We finally then went to the boat and took off. The sharks are actually very close to shore, we went about 15 minutes out and on the other side you can see the beach. The people in charge then got everything set up. We anchored and they got out tuna heads for the bait and got the chum (all of this was disgusting). We got into wet suits. The first group of people went into the cage. What happened was is that the cage up top is partly out of the water. So from the top of the boat they see when the shark is coming and then they tell you to go down, you hold your breathe and look. I was in the third group to go, so watching when the sharks was coming was unbelievable. They come very close to the cage and shark. We saw many of them (there were only five sharks that came but they were there a lot) actually come out of the water partially. I finally went into the cage and one shark basically was coming towards the cage and chewing. It was absolutely unbelievable to be so clsoe to a Great White Shark, words cannot describe. It was a surreal feeling. I really feel like they were not real, but they were, and to see them trying to eat and seeing them swim by was incredible and I would not have traded it for the world.

This coming weekend we are going to Cape Point and Boulder’s Penguins, so that will be my next post!

By the way, jewelry making is VERY hard, my teacher honestly said my first book mark was pretty bad and I should do it again. My second piece was not as bad, hopefully everything else we do will be easier.

Cederberg Mountains January 29- 31

During this weekend the group went to the Cederberg Mountains. I can start off by simply saying it was one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. It was a lengthy drive and when we arrived to the camp site. While there we all just hung around preparing for dinner (there was a second group that had classes that we were waiting on) and we were told by Mama H to, “get our drinkies”. A woman that encourages drinking, I am very o.k. with that. On the trip to the camp site I was in Mama H’s car where I learned a good amount about different little things sucks as why the road is the way it is, and about the fire that occurred in Cederberg a few years earlier.

The second group finally arrived and that is when we pulled out guitars, sat around and started singing. Apparently we were being too loud and ended up getting seven complaints, reason why the head of the campsite told us we could not go wine tasting the next day.

Saturday we got up early and started to hike up the mountain. Going up to the point right before to get up to the top of the mountain was the most painful experience. It was basically climbing a lot of stairs in a very twisty path. Never want to do that again, but I eventually made it up. We then had the choice to go back down, take an easy room to the top of the mountain, or take the difficult path. The difficult path is referred to as difficult because you have to climb through tight spaces and maneuver yourself through rocks. I decided to go the “difficult” way which was so much easier than the first part. At one part of this path we had to go through, what Mama H calls the, “Birth hole”. There is a boulder that fell almost nearly to the ground so you have to go onto your back and wiggle your way through, someone on the other side takes your hands and helps pull you up until you can stand. From that side, it looks like you are being birthed. We finally all made it to the top of the mountain and it was absolutely beautiful. Pictures are up on face book. When we were done checking out the view we headed back down. That was difficult in the sense that half of going down we were just climbing down rocks so it was a tad bit difficult and going down you must be a lot steadier. I am pretty sure I twisted my ankle a few times.

Oh by the end of this climb I had cuts and bruises all over.

Once we arrived back the campsite there was a cold river that we ran into. It was very delightful. We then decided to lie out in the sun for a while before taking a shower and before dinner. That night we went to bed early because of the exhausting day we had.

The next morning we packed up our bags to go look at San Bushman paintings that date back 15,000 years ago. We then went to another cave which had the names of political men who had secret meetings and they all signed their names in the cave. We then had the choice to follow Mama H to another cave to see San Bushman paintings from 88,000 years ago. To get to this place there was no trail so I thought I had cuts from the day before, I gained a lot more. Wearing flip flops did not help either (They said it would be fine to wear flip flops). Once we got to the paintings though it was beautiful to see. To imagine people were there 88,000 years ago is incredible. We then made our way back home from an incredible weekend.

January 28

I haven’t posted on this for a while, nothing exciting has really come up. I have honestly been going out meeting new people and having a good time. Yesterday I had my first real class, Overview of South African History. It is a 3 hour class but he lets us out an hour early and then takes a group for an hour for a side discussion. The first class was a little boring due to the fact we were covering the old history basis, nothing that really has to do much with South Africa, but I’m def. excited for the class to start. The professor is older and he is really funny and very entertaining. Should be a good class. Today I had Jewelery design. I thought this was going to be easy, absolutely not! We made book marks today. We had to carve out copper with a a little saw and lets just say, I had to replace my saw a few times, and by a few times I mean a lot more. I’m not even close to finishing it yet. Hopefully I’ll start getting good at it.

The other day my roommate and I got the best muffins. Go figure South Africa has amazing muffins. DCM, place to go and they are large and moist and overall delicious. I get excited to eat them. However, I have been craving poptarts and there is no such thing. On the topic of cooking though, we are getting pretty good at it, we made chicken the other day along with frozen pizza today. We are getting there. We hope to get some South African recipes soon so we can start eating real normal food.

This weekend I’m going to Cederberg Mountains where we will be hiking hanging out, having a braai. I’m really excited should be lots of fun. The person in charge of our group put in an e-mail to make sure we bring whatever drinks we want (alcoholic/non alcoholic). Just need to put it in that she basically told us to get drinks, so we went to the store today to stock up. There is a great drink, brutal fruit, it is basically a cocktail drink but it is delicious. So we got that with a bottle of wine.

Talking about a braai, the other day people held a braai (bbq) it was overall fun, it’s nice to be outside, talking to people and listening to music.

I’ll make sure to update this when I come back from this weekend!

January 19-21 So much to do

These past few days have been filled with a lot of shopping and figuring out the campus. We had orientation to explain everything that will be going on as well information about classes. We went to the grocery store one of the days and let me just say. It is a tad bit confusing when you see something that is 47 rand for a bottle of shampoo. Let me remind you, which I had to keep reminding myself that you divide that by seven so really it comes out to be about 6 dollars or so. We went into town both nights in which we went to bars and clubs that people recommended. One of the bars were packed, however, beers were 13 rand which means it is less than  2 dollars, pretty good price if I do say so myself. Don’t worry (mom and dad) I did not drink a lot either night. Last night we went into town again it was the same thing. They do not card here in South Africa because the legal drinking age is 18 so unless you look really petite and young and it might be a “high school night”, they will allow everyone in.

Last night they had an event called “windows” where each freshman residence hall puts on a performance of a little bit and keep doing it over and over. People then come and watch and then when that one is done they move to the next one. I watched a few of them and they were all very good and very entertaining (even if they did talk in Afrikaans so I did not know what they were saying all the time). After that we went out again, it is one big party here in South Africa it looks like.

The other day which I forgot to mention they had this thing called “trollies”, where the freshman residence halls make little carts and race them down. That is a big event too that everyone comes to and the older students say that it is an “excuse to drink”.

On the 21st I had my “first class meeting” for my Overview of South African history. It should be interesting and I’m excited for it to get started. I also went to one of the poor townships around the school today called Kayamandi. It is incredible what after you cross a certain point you can tell the difference. Kayamandi is an unfortunate result because of apartheid where people live in what looks like shacks, but the proper name to call it is informal housing. There are some people that try to apply for government housing and some people wait 15 years to get into one. However, what I noticed while walking around is there was a lot of music and so much happiness. People kept saying hello and greeting us as we were walking through. The children there melted my heart, they would run up to our group that we were with to say hello and just wanted to hang out with us. This is where I am hoping to do my field study placement (at the elementary school there) Along with volunteering hopefully as a teacher aid where I can do a lesson plan once a week which will be such a great experience. Not only can I hopefully help them, but I think I will learn so much from the people at the township because of the spirit that they have and what they are grateful for. I can’t wait to go back.

Tonight once again we are going out and then who knows what the weekend holds for me!

Oh, and I finally have internet on my computer, in my room J

Arrival January 17-18th

Let me first start this post by saying if I never have to sit on an airplane again, I would be very pleased. At least for that period of time, which I know is impossible because I have to come home somehow.

The flight from Newark to D.C., was not bad at all. It was all about an hour and a half or so and nobody was sitting next to me, I was pretty happy. Once I get to D.C. I found the rest of the group from AIFS and sat with them trying to get to know people before we boarded our flight. We then boarded the flight and let’s just say that I have been more comfortable in my lifetime. I was sitting next to another girl from AIFS, Katherine, who is also now my flat mate. What was good about the flight is we did have individualized screens in front of us with selections of t.v. shows, movies, music, etc. galore. It kept me entertained for a period of time, even though much of the ride was that of discomfort.

Little did I know that we were first stopping in Dakar, so when we stopped we had to wait an hour until we took off again for Johannesburg. I only know that the flight from there to Johannesburg was about 8 hours, I could not tell you how long the first part was. It was long though.

We finally made it to Johannesburg in which we had a 2 hour wait until we had to get back on a plane to go to Capetown. When we arrived to Johannesburg, everyone was so friendly. The man directing where we should go had the biggest smile on his face and had such great energy. Everyone other person I have encountered from South Africa has that same energy, it is incredible.

Finally in Capetown and we got our luggage and met Mama H (Hestea… the one basically in charge of us while we are here and who takes care of anything we need) who checked us in. We boarded a bus to finally get to Stellenbosch. We were split up in to pairs of two and then told to go to a “block” as they call it, which is a building. I am in Academia Block 15, first floor. I finally have unpacked and right now it is 2 o’clock in the morning here in Stellenbosch on the 19th. I have to be up tomorrow to meet everyone at 9 in the morning.

I do not have internet yet so I am keeping track on word and that I will post as soon as I can. I cannot wait to be able to talk to everyone from back home and skype J.  So far though, so good!