Monday, May 2, 2011
This is the title to most newspapers today. The U.S. Navy Seals shot him in the head and America is bathing in their success. For so many he had become an unobtainable figure. Now that the United States has completed its ten year long dream of assassinating Osama there is a huge sigh of relief. 9/11 survivors feel a sense of vindication today because the man behind the largest attack on America is finally dead. The celebration is on every news channel and that same feeling of unity that we felt as a nation ten years ago is radiating through our county again. This man made it his sole purpose to drive the free world apart and yet he has only succeeded again in bringing us closer together. Chants of "USA" can be heard in every corner of our nation. While the U.S. is cautious because of the terror alert level this now takes us to, we are strong and feel a renewed faith in our government. The patriotic pride is contagious and really just beautiful. This is a day that we will remember forever. The wait is over.
Friday, November 5, 2010
My last month is going wonderfully. I'm just trying to get all the last minute tourist needs accomplished while attempting to study for exams. I finally made it to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela among many other ANC political prisoners were imprisoned for decades). It was a pretty eerie place. I also finally made it out to Clifton Beach with Kasey last Friday. It was such a gorgeous day...of course we both ended up sunburned, but still totally worth it. We rented beach chairs and bought ice cream, it was the perfect girl's day. It was so funny because Clifton Beach has 4 beaches and we were dropped off by the mini bus at number three so we just went down and it was great because almost no one was there. After an hour or two we slowly began to realize we had chosen the gay/nude beach haha it was so hilarious hahaha.
It's starting to hit home that the semester is coming to close now that it's a matter of weeks until we all leave. I wish we were all going home at the same time. Kasey and Sam leave November 17th and it is probably going to break my heart having to say goodbye.It's so weird how quickly and how strong my friendships have grown here. I have a really great feeling that we're all going to stay somewhat close though because this experience has just been so bonding.
Well, I wish I could write more (and I will soon), but I have to meet Ida Cooper for tea :] Haha. Miss you all <3
Monday, October 25, 2010
I normally don't post during the mundane weeks. However, now that the final countdown has begun things don't really feel so mundane any more. The last week really wasn't anything spectacular though, I mostly enjoyed every second of not having a paper due. The week before had been so hectic. Now all my classes are over and I just have one review session in a half hour before exams begin next week. I cannot believe Halloween is almost here, or that November is almost here. The weather is incredible this week, today was beautiful and it's only supposed to get nicer. If only it had been that way yesterday... I went to the waterfront with Sebastian because we had tickets to go to Robben Island, but ten minutes after we got there it started to down pour. The tour was canceled, but we rescheduled for this Wednesday so I am excited for that. I feel like I have so much free time without class. Hopefully the predictions will come true and tomorrow will be beautiful again so I can go to beach :] I want to be nice and tan for my reunification with America.
I'm trying to take pictures of everything that see everyday here. I made a "scenic images" album on facebook so that I have a place to post them all. I hate the thought of forgetting things here. It is all so gorgeous and I want to go home with all of my memories fully in tact. I want to remember the order of the suburbs I live in along Main Street: Obzs, Mowbray, Rosebank, Rondebosch, Clarmont...how much mini buses cost: 5R unless they are in the mood to ask for 6, how in stead of dandelions growing along the highway there are birds of paradise and white lilies. I want the remember my laundry ladies, my sandwich lady and my coffee lady. I want to remember the way the two gates outside of the charlton house sound when they slam shut, and the ring of the door bell that is constantly chiming. There are an endless amount of little things that I think about all the time here and I don't want to go home and forget all about them. I'm going to miss Johnny the cab driver and how he tells me about his 84 year-old mom and the flat that she has lived in for the last 57 years. I just need to write it all down. I want to be able to give a fully detailed report when I go home about just what it really was like to live here :] I feel so lucky! I think about my old walk in albion from twin to the quad and how when i would walk up the stairs in between baldwin and seaton I would look at the pine trees and pretend I was in twilight because they really are that beautiful! I just want to always appreciate the beauty around me because it is such a constant and wonderful supplier of happiness.
Oh and the Egyptian geese! I do not want to forget about the Egyptian geese.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I don’t want to leave. I know that if I heard myself say that in July or early August I would have slapped myself...but I actually do not want to leave. When I left home I left everyone that I love behind me, I took a leap of faith on this experience that I had been wanting for years. Well, I got exactly what I asked for: the experience of a lifetime. Now I have around 5 weeks left here and I am in disbelief. Suddenly everything I do here seems so much more precious than I expected it to. The best thing about home is that it is always there, it will always be a harbour of love and familiarity...but this place is magical and I can’t come back to it (the place yet, but not the experience). I remember talking to a girl who was abroad last year and hearing her say she wished she had gone abroad for a year...I thought she was crazy. Now I can totally relate. It’s hard to describe the feeling of missing your family and friends at home so much, but also loving everything here so much. The fact that the weather is suddenly perfect isn’t making it any easier on me. All I want to do is lay on the beach every day :]
When I was little I went to Florida every winter, some years twice (once with my mom and once with my dad) and every year the last time I swam in the ocean I would promise it my return. I think about those goodbyes every time I see it...there is something so fulfilling about keeping a promise. It is so weird how you can fly to the other side of the world and feel elements of home...and that I consider Florida to be part of home. I suppose anywhere with family memories has been internalized as home. Anyway, I love it here. I love feeling like I am doing it...I am living my dream. I am experiencing a foreign country, people, and culture and I am adjusted! It is the most liberating feeling in the world. I wish I could take a picture of the mini bus station here (if I pulled my camera out, I would without a doubt be robbed haha). Any middle class American that can take that place on would feel proud of themselves guaranteed! When I turned 16 and received my own car I felt independent; I never imagined that I would be able to flag down a mini bus and sit amongst ten strangers with a disco ball on the ceiling and either hip hop or Italian opera blasting in the background and feel comfortable. I love that I am learning about South African foreign relations regarding refugees! This is why I came here, to learn about current events where they are taking place. I feel like I am developing an addiction to independence.
I know that I still have over a month left so it is a little early to evaluate my experience here...but :] I can see a change in myself. It has become so obvious that I am more open-minded now, I feel like I listen to people more than I ever did in the past. I don’t just hear someone’s stories, I feel them. I don’t judge like I used to, but instead I listen to people’s reasons for the decisions or opinions that they have and then I feel empathetic towards their point of view. I don’t question things as much as I used to either, I feel like I am more willing to dive into life. Of course, I still value my regard for responsibility and well thought out decisions, but I definitely value spontaneity more than I used to. Sometimes it is necessary to act on passion rather than sense. I knew that it was financially imprudent to come here, by my passion for this continent led me here anyway and I could not be more thankful. Coming here was a risk, but I took it and have received the greatest reward. I have friends from around the world, I appreciate foreign cultures and my own more than I ever have before, I am more aware of international affairs, and I have a thirst for life that is irrevocable.
I cannot wait to go home and share these new qualities that I have discovered within myself with my friends and family. I know that our relationships will be even more meaningful now that I have a more mature outlook on them. It isn’t that I was not mature previously, but now I truly value the power of support systems. My mom, my sister, my cousins, my friends from home and my delta gammas have been there for me when I was around the corner and when I was as far as I could possibly be. This is a gift. I think I see that more clearly now because I have been given the opportunity to experience something incredible that I know is temporary. I try to soak everything in here because it is always in the back of my mind that I only have it for a little bit. Well, I never really thought that way at home. Now I see that college, my life as a student, and my role in life is temporary. Everything changes, and yes a lot of those changes are for the better, but it is important to publically cherish the positive experiences that you currently have because each one of them will soon be a happy memory; a framed photograph. In a literal sense even...I included a photo of the happy scene I experienced this morning on my walk to class :]
p.s. I am dedicating myself to writing more interesting updates for the rest of my time here. I am going to Robben Island this weekend and will have lots to share on Monday. Sorry this entry was so reflective rather than adventurous haha.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I should start with spring break. It seems like so long ago, I obviously need to get better about updating this blog more frequently. The entire trip was so incredible though; I loved every minute of it. The first day we got a little bit of a late start (thanks to Hermann’s laundry taking forever haha) and as we drove away from Cape Town I realized just how blessed I have been to have this experience. It has to be so rare to find a place so incredibly gorgeous with a people that match it in beauty. While we were stuck in traffic, the little children walking alone along the edges of the highway amazed me; I have never seen something like this before. Cars were flying past them and I could hardly keep my eyes open as I watched how close they were to us. I could have easily stuck my hand out of the window and touched them. Even though I have seen the continuous stretch of townships outside of Cape Town numerous times now, it amazes me every time. The clash of poverty, scenic mountains, and the African sunset on the Atlantic was what I viewed for hours on our drive to our first destination: Mossel Bay.
I have never stayed in a motel before nevertheless a hostel. So, it was pretty cool that my first hostel experience was in a stationary train. I was so excited to sleep on the top bunk, it reminded me so much of being back at Albion with Meg sleeping below me. When I woke up I heard the waves crashing into the beach outside and it was such a great feeling; the ultimate vacation feeling. I was able to take a shower and there was a little window in the shower looking right out at the ocean, such an incredible way to wake up. Every day we stopped somewhere new; Jeffery’s Bay was one of the first stops and it was a total surfer/hipster hostel. The doors to our rooms didn’t even lock…everyone seemed to have dreadlocks, weed, and was just loving life. The eleven of us were all in the bar eating pizza when some of us noticed a drink of the menu called “the fish bowl” it was 100 Rand aka $18 and of course I was dared to order it. The bartender looked at me with this huge smile and while I watched him pour every kind of alcohol imaginable into it my jaw dropped to the floor. I was laughing so hard when I carried it back to the table, I could hardly hold it. We all drank it and of course between the eleven of us it wasn’t much, but the whole act of getting it was so hilarious.
Moving on to the next bay…Coffee Bay :] This place was incredible! We got there and the reception area/restaurant were in one area and then our huts (yes, actual huts) were across a river! Now, when we got there the river was not because it only comes at high tide. So we all got ready and went over the restaurant for dinner and at about midnight I went to head back…only to find the river running freely! Luckily, I had Sebastian to walk me back the long way home to the huts. The next day I ended up finding out that the river was only about a foot deep and totally accessible by walking through. We spent two days here so the second we were able to take part in a hike to “the hole in the wall” it was a 10k hike along the coast to a cliff in the ocean that had a hole in it. Normally the leaders of the hike guide the participants to the top of the hole and allow cliff jumping. This day however, the waves were crashing through this hole with an unbelievable amount of power, so jumping was not an option. We saw so many farm animals though that belonged to all of the natives. Their huts reminded me of the Native Americans homes that I learned about in elementary school…these homes were supposed to exist in a former century, not current time. The entire hike was mind-blowing; every direction I turned was a sight I have never seen before.
The next memorable stop on our trip was Durban. This city has the highest population of Indians anywhere in the world outside of India. We stayed two nights here as well at a really cute bread and breakfast. We had the whole place to our self so it was really nice, the English breakfast in the mornings was sooo good! The second day we went to the beach and the water was finally warm enough to enjoy swimming in. I’ve been told that Durban is the true telling-point of where the Indian Ocean begins and the Atlantic ends because of the change in temperature. So after a day at the beach we went out for Indian food and although I am typically not a huge fan, it was really good.
From Durban we drove all the way to Kimberly (making many pit stops along the way). I think we probably stopped at about 10 steers over the course of this trip, which is a South African fast food chain. I am pretty sure that I only ate at this place once, it was sooo gross! I preferred Spurs…I would compare them to Applebees and they at least had decent calamari. Kimberly was definitely the most ghetto place we stayed on the trip, our hostel was a former prison! Kind of cool, the star-gazing was really nice. Before we left Kimberly we went to their “Big Hole” haha which is apparently the largest diamond mining hole in the world. Now it is filled with water, but it was pretty cool and the museum was under ground and kind of interesting to go through.
The last night our trip was definitely on of my favorites. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that is also an airport! The owners were very Afrikaans and had a baby goat in a pen next to their house. At night we were able to go up to the top of the B&B, which was kind of like a Florida room with outside balconies. There was a pigeon stuck inside and if anyone had seen us trying to get it out I am confident they would have died from laughter. The starts were amazing again though and we all really enjoyed spending our last night of vacation together. Our entire group meshed so well through out the trip, I felt so bonded to everyone by the end. There was no drama at all and I had so much fun every day in the car. Alice and I had sing-a-longs with Sebastian and Renae, Sam and I were talking to silly voices to each other, and just everyone was so much fun to be with. It was kind of difficult coming back to Cape Town and getting back into ‘school mode,’ but I am happy to be back now :] Even if I do wish I could do that same trip every year for spring break.
I wish I could give all of the details from this trip, but my entry would be never-ending. It was incredible though, and seeing so much of South Africa gave me such a better understanding of where I am. I am liking it here more and more every day. Even when I do miss home, I know that this experience has been perfect for me and has given me more than I could have hoped for.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Well I have finally finished my exams for the week. I cannot believe my semester is half way over; time is flying by! I leave for spring break tomorrow and I could not be more excited. 10 of my housemates and I are going on a ten day road trip around South Africa. We're going through the garden route, up to Durban, hopefully through Lesotho, up to Kimberly and then back to Cape Town. It's going to be an insane amount of driving, but the boys bought a car (automatic) and then we rented two stick shifts because they are so much cheaper, but only the boys know how to drive them so I guess I won't be doing any driving on the wrong side of the road haha.
Other than tests I have done two pretty cool things in the last week or so. I went to the first soccer game at the world cup stadium since the games finished. It was really incredible being there knowing that only like two months ago I was watching games from America that were taking place there. I had such a good time, even though I wasn't that into the game. The fans were insane and the vuvuzelas from the world cup were out in full force. They are so loud! It was really awesome seeing all the fans. Hermann, one of the germans in the house got a crowd of about 50 south africans singing "Deutschland" over and over...even though no one else was from Germany haha.
The following day I went to the District 6 museum. During Apartheid something in between 40 and 50 towns were stripped of all diversity, all of the blacks and "coloreds" were forced to move into townships outside of the city and suburbs. District 6 was one of the suburbs. Prior to Apartheid it flourished and had incredible buildings with breath-taking european architecture, but when the blacks were evacuated all of the buildings were demolished. The whites politicians wanted no remembrance of what the area was. The problem was that everyone got along so well in District 6 there was no racial tension at all (I was told this by my tour guide who was a minority and was born in District 6 during the late 1930's). After the area was torn apart it never recovered, it is just now beginning to rebuild, but for as long as Apartheid lasted it was lifeless. The photos blew my mind. Mind tricks were played on the people on signs whenever whites were mentioned in signs it would say "white people only" but if it was forbidding minorities it would simply say "no blacks allowed" the word people did not apply to them. I've learned in my classes that the brainwashing was inspired by the division the nazi's created with the jews. On a less violent scale of course, but nevertheless the minorities here had to face police brutality for far too long and visiting that museum made my studies here much more real.
Anyway, sorry for the somewhat boring entry. I promise my next one will be much more entertaining since it will be as soon as I get back from spring break in like ten days :]
Monday, August 23, 2010
An Austrian (Cash) from Long Street Saturday night…
“Only two things matter in life: sharing and love”
the guy standing next to him:
“and trust man, you can’t forget about trust.”
I think I was scared when I first got here because I felt like I was being thrown into independence. Not that I have the occupational responsibilities of someone fully independent, but being so far from anyone and everyone that I know was an experience that I could not have imagined before. The more I think about it though, the more capable and independent I feel. Knowing that I am hurdling the cultural obstacles here all on my own is more fulfilling than I originally realized. A couple of days ago I was walking to pick up my laundry and I saw a man…relieving himself…on the side of a building and when we made awkward eye contact he screamed profanity at me. I was so shaken up and so afraid that he was going to chase after me, I put my keys through my fingers in about a half second, but he didn’t come after me and I was fine. I know that I need to be aware of the homeless here, but I am also realizing that the vast majority of them are pretty harmless.
I hit another obstacle Friday when I was getting ready to go volunteer for lawco. I received a text message from our group leader announcing that all sessions would be canceled because the teachers in the township are on strike. At first I was so upset, those kids need to be in school more than anyone, it’s probably the closest thing to a safe place that they have. I wonder what they did instead of going to school that day. It sounded to me like this happens pretty often with the schools there. I also wonder if those teachers are being exploited, it must be one of the most challenging teaching jobs on Earth to expect kids to learn when it is perfectly obvious that their home conditions are hardly fit for living in let alone being academically productive. I was thinking about exploitation because I just learned that my house’s security guard, Farikai who is undoubtedly the kindest and happiest person I have ever met, is paid 8.3 rand an hour…that’s barely more than a dollar America. A dollar an hour! He has two kids and a wife and I just can’t imagine how he is supporting them on that, but nevertheless he is always smiling. As easy as it is to marvel at the mountains and sunsets here, the real reason why I came is for people like Farikai…he is the true inspiring element of this country. People that can find so much joy out of just living are rare and they are who I will learn from while I am here.
There are so many things that I miss about America, but already I am noticing things that I will be so sad to part from here. Definitely the campus, it is incomparable in beauty. Some of the weekly things too though, for instance the Old Biscuit Mill. This place is about ten minutes away and is described as a farmer’s market, but it is actually like a food extravaganza. I went there this Saturday with two of my housemates. They have local chefs serving everything imaginable and it is all incredible. The fresh baked pastries and breads, homemade granola (mine has cranberries added in), pesto sauces (olive and aubergine), smoothies, sandwiches, and foods of every nationality as well. I bought two muffins from this one really cute lady who sells the most beautiful baked good, she had these huge chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate…it took a lot of will power to not cave into those. There was also organic dark chocolate that tasted like pure heaven; I will definitely be purchasing that before I go home. I could go on and on about the food, it feels like a cultural experience just eating there. I met one man from Colorado at the market who is working here and he seemed so happy to meet a few fellow Americans. Even though we are all here to experience something different, it’s kind of cute how all the Americans feel a bond towards one another, like we are all each others' little reminder of home.
One thing that I instantly noticed about the environment though was that the crowd was probably 90% white. Some places here still have such a racial division. I could say that about things at home as well, but at home whites are the majority; it makes more sense when there are more white people around, but here that is not the case. I was talking to a South African today and his thoughts on the current state of affairs here was not unlike other South Africans I have talked with, the radical change in society is not taking place at the necessary speed. They call the majority of the population the masses here and that is unfortunately the poor blacks. It is very different for me to grasp that I am living in a country that does not have the kind of social and governmental stability that the United States does. One South African put it me this way: “The greatest thing about the states is that you guys always have a positive attitude, like there is nothing you can’t do. When an innovative idea comes about here, some people run with it, but there are always doubters.” I think with time the South Africans will develop more strength in the faith of their people. Trust takes time, historically social revolution seems to take an evolution in humanity before results are truly seen. The South Africans are a good-natured people though, they avoided civil war in the 90's by bonding together despite all of the violence in their past and I think that if they could do that...the can accomplish much more than even they realize.
It's kind of incredible to me that while South Africa is developing into a modernized nation, it is helping me to develop into a more culturally aware person.