Currently sitting in The Blue Crane & The Butterfly café (known to have the best cakes in town – I agree) avoiding the homework I need to get done for my Small Business Management class before this weekend. So here I am writing my second blog post while in Stellenbosch. I’ve completed my first week of classes/courses/lectures/tutorials and am now in my second week. I’ve settled on four courses to take this semester:
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (Small Business Management) – just because I’m in another country does not mean I magically become competent in the “business language.” If anything it has made me even more aware at how lost I am in the world of business, but it has provided me lots of inspiration for owning my own business someday and given me more motivation to really teach myself the material (so I can keep up with the others & because the English here is very hard to understand).
- Africa & South Africa: Colonialisation and the Rearrangement of Societies – I think this will be one of my favorite classes. Again, this is another class that I feel behind in since I am far from a history buff, but the lecturer is so passionate about the subject, which makes it easy to follow along. This class is an English/Afrikaans class, which means the lecturer will mainly speak in English while someone translates in Afrikaans into a headset that some students wear. However, there are times in a lecture period that the lecturer will give some information in Afrikaans or tell a joke (I only know it must be a joke because of the laughter from the rest of the Afrikaans speaking students) and I just have to hope it wasn’t important information or that the joke wasn’t pointed at me.
- Afrikaans for Beginners – I’m already loving this class and we just had our first official class yesterday. The lecturer is amazing and has already made the whole class feel comfortable making fools out of themselves trying to pronounce a “g” in Afrikaans, which sounds quite similar to making a hockaloogie. I cannot count how many times I was touched/hugged and called ”my love” by the lecturer. Already my type of learning environment. This class is only offered to international students, which means that the majority of people are already speaking English as a second, third, or fourth language and here I am having taken four years of Spanish and can barely ask where the bathroom is… so already at a disadvantage. But I’m staying positive because I’ve been told that Afrikaans is one of the easier languages to learn. We’ll see…
- Creative Jewellery Design and Metal Techniques – I definitely feel more at home in this class and the way it is set up. The lecturer is a stud. She can make an engagement ring in 5 hours! In our first 3 hour class we have already drilled and sawed out designs on two copper plates and will melt/mold/make them into earrings this week. This class is also only for international students this semester so the class only has 9 students. In the course of this class, along with earrings, we’ll make a pendant, ring, bracelet, and necklace.
Now for my random thoughts so I don’t bore you with a long essay trying to fit all of them together:
- Cooking meals… Only having the option to get an unlimited meal plan in college has really stunted my ability to grocery shop for meals. I go into the store and am at a complete loss of what to buy for meals. Here there’s 70% less preservatives in all their foods, which means buying less but shopping more often. I’ve relied a lot on eggs, rice, and pesto… and of course the classic PB&J. All that to say, I miss my fully stalked kitchen back home.
- My strategy to making friends the first week of class: I’ve shared this helpful hint with my fellow international friends trying to befriend locals in classes and have had many success stories. Here’s the strategy – when entering a classroom take a quick glance around the room and try to spot a student sitting by themselves and snag one seat away from or a seat right next to (depending on how bold you’re feeling) the student of interest. From there you casually ask their name, where they’re from, and what they’re studying. Hopefully the student of interest is accepting these advances and engages in conversation. From there the conversation should flow naturally and you’ve made your first classmate buddy. If, by the end of the class, you’re really feeling a connection and feel the timing is right, you go for the big jump in friendship and ask for their number. But keep it casual. Though this may be the most valuable contact you’ll have in your phone, not only for help in the class but also for having a local friend, it is important to remain calm. If necessary, play the “international student who doesn’t realize it might be weird to ask for someone’s number after a 5 minute conversation” card. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have your very own classmate buddy within the first day of class.
- I’ve fallen in love… with rooibos. It’s everywhere. In their tea, coffee, wine, hand soap, etc.
- Lots of man-satchels.
- Stellenbosch is full of beauty… the mountains, little shops, flowers, all the way down to the people. SO many beautiful people reproducing even more beautiful people. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m becoming numb to the model-status of the women, men and children here.
- I’ve never been so scared to cross the street in my life. In good ‘ole Georgetown cars try to avoid running pedestrians over. Not so here. If you ain’t sprintin, they ain’t stopping. On a happier note, I think I’ve finally trained myself to naturally look right then left before crossing the street.
- All of my classes seem to be on the opposite side of campus, which is around a 20 minutes walk from my flat. Big change from my normal 2-5 minute walk to class. I’m planning to try out for the Olympic Race Walking team when I get back.
- On a similar note, I’ve found some dedicated buddies who I’m starting to “train” (workout) with daily. The walk to the gym is a workout in itself since it’s at least 20 minutes away from Concordia (the building I live in). We’ll see how long this lasts…
- This past weekend I had my first wine tasting with the other students in the AIFS group. We tried three wines and three chocolates that were paired with them. I’m still completely ignorant of the wine culture here, but hopefully with more wine tasting and education I’ll be able to look at a wine menu without being overwhelmed…
- This coming weekend is the long awaited excursion to the Cederburg Mountains! I’ve been anticipating this outing since deciding to studying abroad in South Africa. We’ll be lodging in cabins in the mountains and will be doing a big hike up the Cederburg Mountains, as well making our meals over a fire and getting to enjoy some impeccable stargazing each night. Many photos to come.
- Last Friday I got to visit Kayamandi, which is a township minutes away from the heart of Stellenbosch. Townships are the result of apartheid (Afrikaans word for segregation), which ultimately forced Africans to live in a separate community from the white Afrikaaners. Although apartheid no longer exists, these townships still do. There is a drastic difference in the living conditions of those in the townships to those just minutes away in Stellenbosch. It was a very eye-opening and helpful experience for me to better understand the history and current state of South Africa. I’ve learned it’s best to refrain from talking about politics here, especially when you don’t have a wide knowledge of the past and present political issues. So that’s all I’ll say about that for now 🙂
- Speaking of politics… I do not even have to open my mouth and already I am identified as an American, which then follows with being called “Trump’s baby” or other comments about our president. So much for trying to blend in…
- Our flat has officially declared Thursday Nights as our party nights. Last Thursday we hosted our first Pancake & Pajama’s party and this Thursday will be our Wine and Cheese night with an “open speaker” for others to share their favorite songs.
- There’s a water shortage here (something alien to me coming from Kentucky) to the point of catching your shower water with a bucket while it’s warming up. Showers are going to start looking a lot different for me.
Well, that’s all I got for now (besides the photos below)! There’s not as many photos this time because I’m trying to create a small recap video each week, which you can check out on my Facebook page 🙂