Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Back to School

In America, we are taught to always walk on the right side of the hallway or street, always look left, right left before crossing the street, walk to the right side of the car to get in…. now, throw all that out the window when you’re 20 years old! Almost impossible…and that’s Andrea in Africa!  I swear I’m going to get run over by a person just from walking on the right side of the sidewalk!  I’ve also decided I can never jaywalk here again because I always look the wrong way before crossing.  I wish I could watch myself on video walking around UWC’s campus Monday.  It could’ve been a comedy.

The first day at UWC was overwhelming, tiring, and all around confusing.  Most people in my house weren’t registered for classes, couldn’t find classes to suit their requirements, and didn’t know how to register themselves.  After day 1, I think it was safe to say we all pretty much wanted to quit school.  That night we went to our first UWC rugby game, though.  That was a much needed, high energy, exciting atmosphere that brought smiles to everyone’s faces as we cheered on our new school’s team.  (and won!!!)

Tuesday, a group of 16 of us that didn’t have classes went to Camps Bay.  This was a beautiful beach with a view of the ocean, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head.  Previously we had seen this beach from atop the mountains and it was awesome to be able to see the other side! (not to mention the relaxing on a beach part instead of hiking a mountain was pretty great…)

Today was another day at UWC.  This morning most of us were dreading it, but luckily many of us had the same Ethics course this morning.  We all really enjoyed that course so most of us came home in great moods!  I also had my African History course today.  When the professor arrived ten minutes late, I asked the girl next to me if this was a usual occurrence…after laughing for a minute, she replied “yes, we call it African time.”  I think I could get used to this relaxed way of living!  AND I even remembered to walk on the left side of the sidewalk sometimes!!

I found out my service site will be Amy Biel.  I am trying to wait patiently for more information about which school Amy Biel Foundation will pair me with, but I’m getting very anxious!  From what I understand, I will be at a school all day and then help facilitate an after school program for many of the students.  Hopefully this will give me a chance to connect with the children and hear more about the townships they live in. 

I hope everyone is doing well at home!  We just got internet in “Kimberly 2” which is the house I’m staying in so I will have more opportunity to communicate with the world.  Can’t wait to hear about the adventures back in the states!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

So Much to Tell!

Although I just recently posted, we’ve had quite the day. Last night the whole group went up on Signal Hill for the full moon.  I have to say, we didn’t spend much time looking at the moon.  The wind was blowing at about 50 mph (no joke) and we were just struggling to stand up.  I can’t even explain the amount of laughter that came out of that night.  It was an amazing view of all of Cape Town, but the wind was just unbearable.  We were all laughing because everything we have done here has been bucket list material and nothing could compare.  When we got to the top of the hill, we couldn’t even stand up.  The wind was not enjoyable, but the night was one of the most fun yet because of the company. 

This morning four of us woke up for mass.  We went to St. Michael and all his angels which is a beautiful, stone church.  It was an Anglican church so which is like the old, Catholic church. All the wording was old English, the altar was faced toward the back wall, and there were kneelers separating the congregation from the priests.  The consecration was said with the priest’s back to the congregation which I have heard about but never experienced.   We also had to kneel to receive communion.  The Hail Mary was also said several times throughout the mass which was a nice change.  They did not have the sign of peace, though.  At that time, the priests exchanged the “kiss of peace” and the service continued.  Needless to say, many things were different but it was one of the coolest experiences. 

No updates on classes, my phone, or service site.  Every time we ask something people just reply “TIA” which means “This is Africa”…aka just don’t worry about anything!! 

ALSO! Nothing is cold here.  If you ask for ice water, you get a glass of room temperature water… Even the smoothies aren’t that cold (not even sure how that one works..)  The tap water doesn’t get cold so we just drink it room temperature which is totally fine.  But, when we go to restaurants and ask for water they think we’re crazy.  They ask why we want water.   I’m starting to think cold water is not an actual thing here.  But hey! TIA, right?!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hiking Feinds!

                I don’t understand how its already Friday!!! Time flies when you’re having fun! This week has been extremely busy.  Wednesday we had orientation at University of Western Cape.  We should be starting classes Monday…but still have no idea what classes we’re registered for!  The orientation was interesting, but being at a completely new school that’s twice the size of Marquette is a little scary.  There were a lot of people on campus and our classes will most likely have about 300 people in them, little different than home. 

                Yesterday a group of us went to hike, thinking we would do one of the easier mountains first.  We were dropped off at Table Mountain and just decided to start climbing.  After about 5 minutes we decided we already needed a break.  That pace kept up for most of the mountain (we’re quite the hikers).  Most of the trail we took was straight up, though.  I also found it was much harder to hike when you’re laughing so hard, so that also accounted for lots of the breaks taken.  At one point, we saw a big, rodent looking animal peering over the rocks at us.  He was just sitting watching us licking his lips.  Needless to say, we were screaming, laughing, and ended up running past that point in the mountain. Later we saw some locals hiking the mountain who informed us it was just a dussie and they are vegetarians… so the screaming and running was DEFINITELY necessary.  When we finally reached the top, we were in the clouds.  It was extremely cold at the top and a little disappointing that we were in a cloud, but nonetheless it was gorgeous.  (LOTS of pictures on facebook).  It was about 5:30 at that point so we decided to take the cable car down. 

                Today, most of the group decided to hike Lion’s Head Mountain.  I wasn’t planning on going but was very easily convinced.  That hike was extremely different than Table Mountain.  Lion’s Head was more scaling a mountain than anything.  There was a lot of rock climbing involved and it only took about one hour, as opposed to our 2.5 hour Table Mountain hike.  We saw a couple more dussies and had a great time.  This hike was definitely less work and more fun.  My terrible fear of heights only kicked in when I was scaling the rocks… other than that all went well!! From the top of Lion’s Head we were able to see all of Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the ocean.  This view was more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen.  I was so thankful to be there all these kids who are beginning to feel like family in South Africa. 

                We are not quite registered for classes yet so might start a day or two late, but no one seems worried.  Our service will start in about two weeks.  I was informed that I will either be at Imbasa or Amy Biel Foundation.  Imbasa is a school grades 1-8.  The children begin learning English in 3rd grade and really seem to have a love for learning.  They seem like they are there because they want to learn and not because they are forced to.  Amy Biel was a 26 year old who came to South Africa during the apartheid in order to help with freedom.  She was dragged out of her car one day after work and beaten to death by 3 black men.  Amy’s parents have since forgiven the men and work closely with two of the men in the Amy Biel Foundation.  An incredibly sad story has turned into an organization that will never turn away a child and now serves about 1200 children at various schools.  They mostly put together after school programs including reading, music, dance, and sports. 

                Everything is going well and I have been quite the hiker the past couple days.  Needless to say, I’m exhausted.  I miss home but am constantly reminded why I am here.  The shacks on the side of the road will never be something I can overlook.  I hope everyone at home is doing well!! I miss you all lots! Lots of love from South Africa!

                p.s. If you wanted to know… the toilets DON’T swirl here.  Still throwing me off… I also have the greatest farmer’s tan of my life.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Though the 40 hours of travel were long, I am now finally settled in to Cape Town.  The flights seem like a blur.  When we first got to the airport in Cape Town, we were picked up by Pearnel (our driver for the semester).  At that point, the whole trip felt like vacation.  We had the warm sun on our faces and the wind blowing our hair.  We began the ride out of the airport and soon enough saw the shacks people were living in on the side of the road…. card board walls and any material they could find to use as a makeshift roof.  Many people called this home while so many others had large cement houses right down the road.  At that point, I remembered why I was actually in South Africa. 

Our first full day here was spent exploring and making our way to the water front, which is about a 20 minute drive.  The restaurants had very similar food to America, but the service takes very long.  They don’t seem to have much commitment to time so meals take at least two hours.  Most of the day was spent all together (21 students) getting to know each other and laughing. 

Today we are in the midst of people coming and going from various service sites.  I haven’t been placed at a site yet, but I went to a school called Imbasa to meet Mama Zana.  The ride to the school was an experience in itself.  The cars on the highway don’t really care if there is a lane or not, they will make one or just drive through the grass….and I thought Chicago traffic was bad!! This school is grades 1-8 in the middle of neighborhoods of shacks.  Mama Zana made us feel very welcomed and at home.  Everyone there was so happy to see us and kept thanking us for being here.

I don’t know how much I can teach them, but I do know how much they will teach me.  I am so blessed to have this opportunity and look forward to every part of the experience. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tomorrow begins my journey.

January 17 begins my trek around the world! I will be traveling to New York for an overnight layover tomorrow. Then Friday morning I will be on my way to South Africa.  The first week we are there we still have some time to figure things out.  Classes will then begin on January 28.  Please pray for safe travels! I’ll update as soon as I can upon arrival.