Just a Matie in Stellie

I made it to Stellenbosch, South Africa!

Here’s a quick background of why I’m here:
So last fall semester I knew I wanted to study abroad my senior year but had no specific country in mind. After talking to the study abroad advisor at my school I had narrowed it down to Italy, India, and (his recommendation) South Africa. I’ve learned that the majority of my best decisions are the ones I make on a whim. With that being said, I had already mentally chosen South Africa by the end of my first meeting meeting with my advisor. From there I spent the next semester filling out a mile high stack of paperwork and applying for every possible scholarship. After convincing/informing my parents about the trip, going through hoops to get my visa, and traveling two days I’m finally here!

Last goodbye with part of the fam!


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My 11 hour flight from Amsterdam to Capetown

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Flying over the Swiss Alps.
Flying over the Sahara Desert.

As my family, and anyone else who has been around me when writing an essay can attest, I do not enjoy writing. Especially writing in complete and coherent thoughts. So I’ve decided to make this more of an outline where I’ll just list random thoughts or information I think I should share. Maybe I’ll elaborate on the list… and maybe I won’t. 🙂

~I’m here with a group of 14 other American’s from all over the States through the American International Foreign Study (AIFS) program.

~We’re five days in and we’ve finished our orientation with the other 400 international students attending Stellenbosch University this semester.

~At SU this is their 2nd semester.

~I live in a flat with three other girls (all extremely cool) and we each have our own room and bathroom and share a kitchen/living room space. We have a lady who not only cleans our kitchen and bathrooms, but sweeps all of our floors and… get this… washes our dishes! Don’t worry, I still have to make my own bed.

 -Amber: I obviously stalked everyone coming with AIFS and learned through social media that Amber went to the same University as my cousin in San Diego. After some more intense creeping I realized she was also a Christian and had been to ZA before. So of course I slid into her DM’s (for Dad – “sent her a personal message through the internet”). I learned that she was going to ZA a month early through her church to help start up a church in Stellenbosch.
-Madison: I’m ashamed to admit that my internet investigative skills failed me. I did not know as much about Madison before I came and soon learned that she is extremely passionate about self-sustainability and has the ability to make anyone feel included. For sure the life of a party.
-Natasha: She was the “mystery flatmate.” Natasha moved in two days after we arrived and wasn’t apart of the AIFS program so we were anxious to meet her. Tasha lives on an island in Western Canada and goes to an art university on the East coast of Canada. Her focus in art is print making. She is at Stellenbosch to help with a professor’s research by teaching an art class at a nearby high school.

~I’ve met lots of friends from all over the world (mostly Europe) and just yesterday got to celebrate Erhan’s (a friend I made from Switzerland) birthday with lots of new friends!

~I’ve run into multiple people while walking on the right side of the sidewalk.

~Mopeds delivering McDonald’s take-out is a common site.

~It’s very rare to find a building with AC or heating.

~It’s currently winter in South Africa, which means it’s around 40 degrees at night and can get up to 60 degrees during the day when the sun is out, which doesn’t sound bad coming from Kentucky, right? Well that’s what I thought before I came… I failed to consider that no heating means no heating, which means if it’s 40 degrees at night it’s going to be 40 degrees when I try to fall asleep. Lesson learned.

~Most shops close around 5 or 6 (sunset) and the streets are mostly empty due to the highly unsafe night life.

~I can get coffee that would put Starbucks to shame for $2.

~When in doubt, just say “lekker.” It’s the Afrikaans go-to word for anything awesome, cool, tasty, nice, etc. Lekker.

~Afrikaans apparently is one of the easiest languages to learn so I’m going to give it a go this semester. Luckily I only need a C or above for my credits to transfer!

~My other classes include; Jewellery making (their spelling, not mine), Africa & South Africa Colonization and the Rearrangement of Societies, Small Business Management, and Social Issues in South Africa. However, I don’t have to finalize any of these classes until the first week of lectures is over. So in the meantime I can sit in on as many classes as I want and then decide from there.

~I’m currently 6 hours ahead of those back home, which makes my bedtime ritual consist of catching up with friends and family. It also makes my news feed very empty during the day, which I’m not mad about.

~Wifi is hard to come by and isn’t super reliable since the internet comes through underground channels across the ocean.

~Stellenbosch students are called “Maties” (Mawh-Tees). They adopted the nickname other Universities gave them by calling them “tomatoes” (Toe-Mawh-Toes) or “maties” because of the University’s maroon color.

~I think I’m supposed to live in Denmark. At the international student’s dinner I sat with a few Danish guys who informed me that almost all of their communication is through sarcasm. Let’s just say that there was never a lull in the conversation and by the end of the night I believe I even almost impressed them with my sarcastic abilities. Thanks, Dad.

~Classes start on Monday, which is when all the local students will finally be arriving on campus. I’m ready to meet some “stellies”!

~Just about every shop in Stellie is a hipster’s dream. Lot’s of succulents, great coffee, and a very clean look.

~Cheap food and even cheaper wine. Stellenbosch takes a lot of pride in their wine because of the multiple vineyards in the area. I believe our program is taking us on a wine tasting tour soon, so I’ll keep ya posted.

Well, that’s all I have for now! Hopefully these photos will do a better job at portraying my time here than my words can:

Our first impromptu tour of campus led by an exchange student, Gudrun, from Germany who studied here last semester.
The view from our building.
International orientation meeting.
Waiting to get our student cards made.
Making food and friends.
40 degree weather at night in a dorm that has no heating = purchasing an indoor heater.
The center of campus.
Good Mexican food is hard to come by in South Africa.
I’m loving the trees here!
My flatmate is also an art major so we decided to combine our skills and make door tags
Ruby and Natasha
Some of the best croissants I’ve tasted since Paris.
Proteas – my new favorite flower.
I’m in heaven.


They gave us blankets so we could still eat outside and stay warm.
Basic Bistro was so good that we went again the next day!


My morning tea and rusk.


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I found crepes!

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One of my flatmates Amber.
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The start of our hike up Coetzenburg Mountains, right behind the rugby fields.

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My other flatmate, Natasha.

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Our fearless tour guide, Gudrun.
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The gang that made it to the halfway point (the whole hike would have taken 4-5 hours to get to the top).
Capetown and the ocean in the distance.


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Meraki, a new favorite cafe.
The bathrooms here are SO cute! This is the outdoor walkway and washing station of Meraki.
The drive to Franchhoek for the Bastille festival.


When celebrating France…
one must get a croissant.

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