This past Monday was the first day of the semester, and a very rude awakening that I am not in Cape Town for a lengthy, five month holiday. I am both happy and sad about this because I loved having the freedom to do new and exciting things everyday as I have been the past three weeks, but also I am glad that my life here is getting more into a manageable routine. Now that school is back in session, there are college kids all over town! I feel like I am living in a city full of young people, every coffee shop or restaurant I walk into is packed with students. It has also been exciting to experience the “big school feeling” for a lack of a better way to say it.Walking to class is probably one of my favorite parts of the day. Not only is it great exercise (30 minutes walking up hills), but it is my time to be with my thoughts and reflect on life in Africa. My heart pounds a little when I recognize a familiar face in the crowd of 20,000 students! It’s definitely the opposite of Chapman, where I see the same people walk by me everyday and run into 30 friends on the way to class.
Classes are most definitely going to be a challenge. I am currently enrolled in statistics, managerial accounting, marketing, and an intro to South African history/culture class. I would say that the education standards are similar to Chapman, very rigorous and lots of assignments. But no one is here to hold your hand here at UCT. Your expected to know when assignments are due, where to drop off your homework and what days and times to show up all on your own. In a lecture full of 500 students, no one cares if your falling behind. The classroom structure is unlike anything I have experienced, so so huge! Little tiny desks and a swarm of people squished in, fighting for seats. If your not there 15 minutes early, you are sitting on the floor or standing in the back. Crazy stuff. I’m not worried about not doing well in my classes though. Although they are going to be difficult and intense, I feel like I am going to have a good balance of going out and doing fun things whilst still keeping up on my studies. It’s a little bit frustrating because a lot of Americans on my program are taking bull shit classes like African Dance, so they have a lot of time to go out. Oh well, no regrets on taking hard classes yet.
As part of my intro to South Africa class (which all of the Americans are forced to take), they take us on weekend field trips to museums and other points of interest. Yesterday, we visited the District 6 museum and Robbin Island. We learned how District 6 was a bustling and thriving area of Cape Town that inhabited over 60,000 people, until the apartheid regime forcibly removed all 60,000 people out of their homes and moved them into ghettos, separating them from their family and friends. They destroyed every single house, completely demolishing the area. Really sad and deep stuff. After the museum visit, we took a boat over to Robbin Island, which is famous because that is where former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, served his prison sentence. Robbin Island was very similar to Alcatraz island prison in San Fransisco. We were able to peek inside Nelson Mandela’s prison cell and had a guided tour of the prison, which is now a museum.
I feel like I have so many thoughts and feelings about South Africa to share, but I could literally write anther 10 paragraphs about it. But I will save them for my next blog post this week :). In short, I am loving South Africa so much, and I am already dreading the day I have to leave. Everyday, I wake up so happy and thankful. I am finally able to walk around and not be fearful of crime, but rather I am learning to accept this different way of life. Such amazing food, the most beautiful 70-80 degree weather, and so many amazing people I have met. I have become friends with a lot of South African students, and they are so cool to be around. I could go on and on about all of the things I love about Cape Town so far. I truly don’t want this special time here to ever end! But with that said, I miss my family a ton ❤ and it will be such a good reunion in June when I get to see everyone again.