Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Much Awaited Update!

Per usual, I'm horrible at keeping up with my blog... But tonight I'm staying in to "read and catch up on school work"--aka blog. Basically I'm going to break up our adventures by theme if you will.

Back to Day 3- Wednesday May 16, 2012:
Wednesday night our trip planners/directors decided to have us meet the Stellenbosch students we'd been Skyping with before we came to study. Nobody realized it was going to be a "serious" discussion about racial issues and society, but it turned out to be pretty fun! We even got some of the locals to go have a drink with us and then go clubbing.
--Needless to say the first night out in South Africa was a little wild. We went to a few clubs and one even had sand on the floor of the entrance and really awesome lights upstairs around the bar.

The next day we had our first encounter with Kayamandi, the township located next to Stellenbosch.

Kayamandi is a predominantly black township (I use their terminology, not my own) that is filled with shacks, government housing, and a few 'normal' houses. It's crazy to see the difference between the white buildings of Stellenbosch University and then the next minute to be looking over an entire town of shacks with barefoot children running around.


Shacks that people live in

The kids loved having their picture taken

Friendly woman who wanted her picture taken
It's crazy how the views from Kayamandi are so beautiful-- the people living in Kayamandi might have the best views in the Stellenbosch area. While in Kayamandi we got to see Prochorus, the non-profit we'll be working with during our first week of Service-Learning. We also got to meet Bonez, our tour guide per-say and the coordinator/head teacher of the computer class at the library. Our group will be working with Bonez to help him teach the upcoming computer class covering Microsoft Word and Excel.

After our walking tour of Kayamandi we went to watch Academia (our student residence) play another residence in a game of rugby. What an intense game! I felt like I was at a lacrosse tournament with fields being right next to each other. It feels like everyone in this school plays rugby!


Hookers in the air

The Scrum

Hooker in the air again

Hello tree-thighs
That night we just hung out and watched movies-- After a crazy Wednesday night, we needed a day/night (or 2) off.

More to come in the next post about our first weekend adventures!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

South African Adventure take 1

\Day 1, Monday May 14, 2012:
After over 24 hours of air travel, too many airplane meals, and some serious jet-lag, we FINALLY made it to Stellenbosch, South Africa. It didn't really hit that we were in Africa for a while because Stellenbosch is so similar to the States and Athens especially. Today was a day of rest and relaxation where Margo, the Post Grad & International Student Coordinator's assistant who helps us, took us on a tour of the campus & surrounding town. 
Academia, where we live

center of campus

Reagen hanging out

That afternoon we napped, went for dinner (at an amazing pizza/pasta place) and then had our night out on the town. Needless to say, we might be far from Athens, but we always know how to find the bars..And some hilarious people. One guy we met was drinking a Smirnoff Ice, so of course we made fun of him relentlessly and by the end of the night, the “smirnoff was talking” and he was getting a little too sassy to be straight. Either way, he was a great sport about being humiliated by random American kids.

Day 2, Tuesday May 15, 2012:
We met with our “helper” Margo, who took us around to get the necessities: student ID card, internet access, South African Rand, cell phones (of course), and an orientation session. Breakfast was served at the prettiest little restaurant nestled in an alley (I plan on returning to this restaurant & I'll take pictures just to show how adorable this place is) where we got to eat the first REAL meal in over 24 hours. We had a South African breakfast, which is almost exactly like an English breakfast complete with yogurt & granola, freshly cut fruit, fresh squeezed fruit juice (Which was beyond fresh and delicious), eggs, mushrooms, shoulder bacon, boerworst (sausage), and cooked tomatoes. While we were eating all of the delicious food, we got to talk to our coordinators and each other to get to know one another a little better. (As if flying for over 24 hours together isn't enough bonding time). If you know me, you know no meal isn't complete without some shenanigan causing: luckily this time it wasn't me, but Jack who had an accident. When serving me some bacon, he dropped a piece of bacon in the jar of berry juice. This probably doesn't sound very funny, but we were all jet-lagged and exhausted, so we got the contagious giggles and I probably didn't stop laughing for a good 10 minutes.
Basically our trip revolves around food... Which shouldn't surprise you since I'm on this trip and I love to eat. After breakfast and a couple more orientation sessions, the group headed back for a much needed nap to get ready for the night ahead.
Our driver was a nice, but very strange Afrikaner from near Stellenbosch who loved dubstep music and had some very interesting theories on America and politics. Anyway, before I get to our dinner conversation I'll fill you in on our actual dinner. We went to the Africa Cafe in downtown Cape Town. Dear goodness I've never eaten so much in my life. The restaurant is decked out in African cloth and inspirational words all over the tables and walls. I wish I had gotten a picture because it was BEAUTIFUL. The women serving us first washed our hands, then we began our 14 (yes FOURTEEN) course meal. We had traditional African dishes from around the world ranging from cheesy flat bread, vegetable soup and stir-fry vegetables to lamb stew, fried rice and some lentil dish. Every single dish was phenomenal and I couldn't stop eating even though I was beyond stuffed. I sat a the end of the table with Reagen, Jack, and Blayne our driver from earlier. We had some pretty interesting discussions... Blayne thinks the Illuminati is behind the 9/11 attacks and that the US government killed Michael Jackson because he converted to Islam and was about to go on world tour. I still can't tell if he was joking the whole time or if he truly believed this stuff and was that off his rocker. I guess we'll see if he drives us again (I kinda hope he does so we can try to understand the complexities that goes on in his thought process...). Anyway after that we were all exhausted and had to meet at 8 am the next morning for the first day of class!
Day 3 Wednesday May 16, 2012:
We had an early start (We had to be at the front of our residence at 8 am) for a morning full of class. (gag). After our first lecture from Dr. Finlay, which was really interesting and I'm actually really excited for all of these classes, we were a liiiitttllleee bit tired. Dr. Crepaz came in and although his course content is really interesting, I couldn't seem to keep my eyes open... Even as he was STARING AT ME IN THE EYES. We were making eye contact and my eyelids were so heavy I couldn't keep them open. Not the best first in-class impression.. oops! I'll talk more about my classes later because I know that nobody cares about what we're actually learning in South Africa, it's all about the adventures and sight seeing, duh! So, on to our first BIG adventure!
Well first-- lunch. We have access to Neelsie, the student center here, to get food and such, so we decided to get lunch (hamburgers of course!) and eat outside of the student center (which we call Tate 3). Jack got the biggest burger I've EVER seen in my life. It had 2 chicken patties on one bun, a burger patty and a fried egg and an onion ring on the other patty, salad on the side, and sauce everywhere. It was ridiculously huge and looked absolutely scrumptious. On the way to our sunny little picnic patch, Jack's hand slipped and he dropped half of his food on the ground. EVERYONE around us just stared and gave us dirty looks, so we just hurried away. Lucky for Jack, he still had half of his food, so he had an ENTIRE hamburger to eat. 
Adventure time!!!
Yeah, it doesn't look like much, but it's very big
See this mountain?  yeah, we hiked it. TO THE TOP!!
I obviously am out of shape because I was one of the kids bringing up the rear.
But we made it!!!
Caroline and I at the top!
Anyway, I'm a bit tired (exhausted, actually) so I'm off to watch Invictus with Caroline! I'll update what we did the rest of the week tomorrow!!