Discovering the unfamiliar

These past two weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of adventure, new experiences, and falling deeper in love with Cape Town. This week marks my second week of classes and its safe to say the reading is piling up quicker than ever. This semester I’m really trying to take courses that culturally enhance and educate my experience here. So, I am taking Social Race, Class, and Gender; Individual and Society; African Dance; and Introducing Africa: History, Politics, and Culture. Although the sociology courses are somewhat similar to courses I have taken back in the States, the context of South Africa completely transforms the material and offers an extremely interesting insight into the root of societal issues here. Thus I am discovering a country very unfamiliar to my own.  So far I’ve attended bigger lectures than I’ve ever experienced back home at Chapman, but along with those lectures are mandatory weekly tutorial groups. Here we are in a much smaller space with much less people and we are able to actually discuss and ask questions about the material covered in classes and readings. One of the themes that continues to pop up in lectures is the intersectionality of race, class, and gender and the lasting affect the Apartheid era still has on many South African citizens. The history and culture of this country is truly fascinating and I am looking forward to learning more and living more of it during the rest of the semester. 

Aside from a schedule filled with lectures and tutorials I can assure you that I fill every other moment of free time with activities and most importantly fun! These include attending UCT sport games, both football (soccer) and rugby, trying out and making the UCT varsity volleyball team, volunteering for an organization called SHAWCO, going clubbing and bar hopping, and attending a music fest called Cold Turkey. If there is one thing you should know about Cape Town, there is ALWAYS something going on. First I’ll start with the sports.

So far, I’ve attended 2 football games and the school spirit far surpasses that of my home university which is a VERY nice change of pace. At the first game, we made some real South African friends which as silly as it sounds is quite exciting. (Their accents never get old). At half time they pull people out to the field to kick soccer balls for a 2000 rand prize as well as have a little dance competition. So far no one from the Arcadia group has gone up, but I can assure you by the end of the season someone will be brave enough to go try, and we all know the bar tab will be on them for that weekend 😛 As fun as the the soccer games are, I wanted to discover a new sport very unfamiliar to me. So I attended my first ever rugby game. It was a rather rainy weekend, so the field was pretty muddy and upon arrival, we noticed the boys were too haha! I can’t say rugby has won me over from American football quite yet, but it was definitely a very entertaining sport to watch. Especially because UCT Rugby team has just won the Varsity Cup, which I guess makes them the best team in South Africa! My last sport experience involves trying out for the UCT women’s volleyball team. Not only is this a way to stay active while playing a sport I love, but it also gives me a great opportunity to create strong friendships within the team. We’ve had one tryout/practice so far and to say I’m sore is an understatement. The balls they use here are slightly different than the ones at home, so my forearms are not very happy with me. But, I’m extremely excited to start competing again and be part of a team here at UCT!

Next I’d like to share my experience with this organization called SHAWCO. SHAWCO is a volunteer organization that helps tutor, teach, and play with kids in the townships throughout South Africa. There are all different age groups and locations that you can choose to do. I’ve chosen to work with a project titled Little Moon, which works with kids grades 1-3 in a township called Nyanga. This past Monday was our very first day and I am already so thrilled and humbled with the experience I’ve had. The kids in this village speak the language Xhosa, and for those of you don’t know, this language involves several different clicking noises and is EXTREMELY hard to pick up on. As I tried to help them with english, math, and reading, they tried to help me understand them and their language. Finally we settled on dancing and games, something we both could understand. As you can see in the photo above, they were absolutely fascinated by my GoPro and we had a lot of fun filming and dancing around. The boy that tutored was named Balinezo. (He is pictured on the far left). I’m looking forward to seeing him every Monday for the rest of the semester! 

Lastly, but not least is the music scene and night life in South Africa. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, there is never a dull moment in Cape Town, and the night life here backs up that statement 100%. There are three main areas that people go out: Claremont, Observatory, and Longstreet. As I’m sure you can assume, we have been to all three. Several times. People here don’t go to sleep I swear. But it’s been a great experience bonding with my house mates and a fun opportunity to meet some locals. One particular event I attended was called Cold Turkey. It was a rather “underground” music fest located at the train lodge, which is basically two abandoned trains that have been transformed into a hostel. In the middle of the two trains was space for lounging, dancing, a bar, and most importantly the DJ booth. After spending an entire day walking around the city, my house mate Zach and I finally found this event. We told ourselves we would spend a max of 4 hours there considering it was a Sunday. If this is any indication of how much we had, we ended up staying for 8 hours! 

Cape Town continues to thrill, humble, and educate me through all of these experiences. Looking forward to sharing more next week! This weekend we will be doing an overnight in a township! As always thank you for reading. 

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