Wednesday 13 July
This day was basically full of CIEE rules and regulations, your typical “do’s and do not’s” day. I’ll only hit you guys up with the really important and fun stuff though!
Race is a really important issue here in South Africa. Basically, you can take any issue whether it is social, economic, political, etc. and race always comes into play. However, here they are a lot more open about the distinctions and aren’t as “politically correct” as we are in the US (like saying “African-American”). The main racial groups present are whites, blacks, Indians, and coloureds (those of a mixed race, not necessarily solely from a white parent and black parent). Here only black people are allowed to say the “n” word. And under no circumstances are you allowed to say the “k” word. If you didn’t already know what they were referring to, the staff wouldn’t even say the word out loud. It’s that bad.
We also took “South African English 101”! Here are some of the main words we learned:
- Lekker – cool
- Robot – traffic light (because people used to direct traffic and then these “robots” took over)
- Jol – an “apeshit”/really crazy party
- Braai – the closest word we have is barbeque, but it really is its own distinction of food
- Just now/now now – phrases describing “South African time,” which basically means people will do things when they feel like it/eventually. There is no sense of needing to be exactly on time here (and definitely not early)
- Shame – used at the end of a sentence and basically means “your life is worthless”
- A weh – informal greeting
- Chana – friend
- Kiff – really rad/cool (surfer term)
- Siff – really gross/bad (surfer term)
- The Pirates and The Chiefs – the main soccer teams
- Handshakes are given similarly to a “bro hug.” Basically you do an informal handshake and clap each other on the back. Western traditional handshakes are not cool
We also found out about our living arrangements! I am going to be living in the Liesbeeck Gardens dorm which is located about a 10-15 minute walk from campus. I will be living in a flat (apartment) with 4 single rooms – 2 American students from by program CIEE and 2 South African students. We also have a communal kitchen and living room area. The dorm itself is equipped with a swimming pool, TV room with pool tables and free laundry services. We all move in to our new places on Saturday 16 July.
After things wrapped up for the day, some of my new friends and I decided to go on an adventure up to Upper Campus of UCT, where all of our classes will be located (our dorms are on Lower Campus). The campus is literally built on Table Mountain, just in front of Devil’s Peak, so it was a pretty steep hike up the hill to get there. But when it finally came into view, it was absolutely breathtaking. The main building at UCT is called Jameson Hall and is a huge, beautiful building with large columns at the top. There is ivy growing on all of the buildings, with lots of palm trees, cactuses, and other plants everywhere. I can’t believe that it’s only going to become more gorgeous as I continue to stay here, because once Spring rolls around everything will be green and blooming again! AU is really pretty in its own way… but it can NOT compete with UCT in any way! UCT is also enormous; there are about 25,000 students that attend here. Definitely going to get lost on my first day!
That night I was really tired and was heading to my room for some down time, when my roommate told me that she and some friends had found tickets to a showing of Harry Potter at a nearby theatre. Naturally I had to go! We took about a 10 minute cab ride to Kavendish and bought our tickets for the 22h50 showing. Movie theatres here assign seats when you buy tickets, so there was no need for us to wait around. Instead, we went to a restaurant nearby and I ordered my first legal beer! Needless to say, I was pretty excited. A little bit less climatic than I had thought it was going to be (nothing like a 21st birthday bash that everyone in the States thinks about), but it was a good time! I had a Castle, which is one of South Africa’s most famous beers. I think it was a solid choice. Anyway, we eventually got to HP 7 Part 2 and it was wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really does feel like I am officially an adult now though! I had my first legal beer and the era of my childhood ended all in one night.
All in all, I am so happy to be here! Everything is so exciting and absolutely beautiful.