July 19, 2012

For the next four months I will be blogging to you from South Africa! I've already picked up some Zulu, can't you tell?

I arrived here on Saturday night after what seemed like the longest journey in history. (I'm sure Christopher Columbus wouldn't have been impressed though.) At first I wasn't sure what I thought about the whole experience. Leaving my friends and family for international calling rates and limited internet suddenly became very intimidating and real last week.

I'm not going to lie, the first two nights were a little rough, but thankfully I've already met some awesome people + had great adventures. I met Jill at Dulles in DC before our long jaunt across the Atlantic and even more epic jaunt through the Joburg airport (another story for another time). We met up with Shamique and Danny here, and we also met the lovely Liz, Kellie, and Sara who were already here for a month-long summer program with Interstudy. They were able to recommend some great spots, but a week with them was not enough. Come back, we miss you!

We started the week at a restaurant/bar called Amsterdam on Davenport Road. As I recall, Liz and Kellie described it to me as the "ultimate hipster place," and on Mondays they have open mic night. The place is based on the whole "I amsterdam" thing they have going on in the Netherlands. Yes, it was outrageously hipster, and yes, it was totally awesome. We met up with some friends they had met on their flight from Cape Town, and we all were subjected to the eclectic + interesting stylings of Durban's finest acoustic musicians. Really, they weren't that bad!

On Tuesday, I fell in love with South Africa. We took a tour of Durban with the awesome Sthembiso of Street Scene. From Gandhi to Mandela to everyday citizens, so much determination, intelligence, and vision has accumulated and is still present in this country today. It is clear that things are far from perfect here, but there is no lack of perseverance, no lack of faith, that this country has, can, and will continue to surprise the world and do amazing things.

At the conclusion of the tour, we had a real South African braai (barbecue) with steak and sausage. I've been vegetarian for over a year in the States because of unethical meat production, but this stuff was fresh. Plus it looked delicious so I dug in. (Literally, we ate with our fingers. This is Africa, guys.) It was amazing! I could have eaten more, but I wanted to take it slow for fear of eating myself sick. I would have saved some for you too, but clearly that wouldn't have worked out.

On Wednesday night we went to Cafe 1999, where I got my fix with some amazing artichoke rissoto. I'd been craving Italian food ever since we arrived here! After, we went to Unity, where met a girl who had recently moved to South Africa from the States, and, of all places, she had graduated from American University in 2011! Small world, huh? Again, hanging out with everyone was just too much fun. We'll miss you, Sarah + Liz!

I can not get over how cheap things are here though! Right now, it's about R8 to 1 USD. Cab rides average about R60, which is $7.50. I can't even imagine getting that fare in DC! Unfortunately, that makes me think I can buy more and leads me to $25 worth of jewelry at the market. Oops?

Tomorrow is registration, and, well, the registration process here is a little different than it is in the states... ok, a lot different. I was able to get pre-approved for some courses before coming over here, but, in order to get approved for some others I need, I have to talk directly to the professor. Hopefully I can have it all sorted tomorrow. At least that's how I understand it - everything is clouded with a slight vagueness. If you know me, I don't do well with uncertainty.

But for now, I'll deal with you South Africa, only because I love you so much.

Sala kahle!

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. /// Mohandas K. Gandhi

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