Missing Scranton (Still loving South Africa though!)

Greetings! I am still studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and am still loving every second of it!
As promised, here is a fun little list of lessons I compiled during my first day of classes at The University of Western Cape. Although I value my experience here, this eye-roll prompting list threaded with sarcasm after a long day of frustration certainly makes me miss The University of Scranton!

Throwback to Travel Journal Entry from July 23. Location: University of Western Cape campus.
“Today, I spend five-thousand unnecessary hours at UWC. Here are some lessons I learned today:

1. Coffee shops will never open when they say they will
2. Chocochino = Mochachino = Mocha
3. Practicals do not exist on any schedule anywhere
4. Neither do tutorials – especially when you are placed in the wrong one
5. Tutorials are called “Tuts” for short – which explains my confusion, thinking that my professor was referencing King Tut for the entire class
6. No one needs to arrive at UWC before 7:15AM
7. If your computer tells you that you need a library card, it is lying
8. If your computer tells you that you have 10 minutes remaining in your session, it’s lying. You have 4
9. There is no concept of silence in the library
10. The head of the University of Western Cape English department is called rude by everyone. I thought she was lovely. What does that say about Americans?
11. You can buy 2 bananas for 3 Rand – AKA 30 cents USA. Hellooooo groceries
12. Americans walk too fast/Everyone in South Africa walks like they have nowhere to be ever. Welcome to ‘Africa-time’
13. Speaking of Africa-time, class times mean nothing. Walk in 15 minutes late? Fine. Leave a half hour early? Not a problem.
14. Privacy in the bathroom will never happen and stalls will never close. Toilet paper? Paper towels? Forget about it
15. South Africans are really nice about giving directions. So it is okay to occasionally play ‘Lost American’”

Now I am loving The Universtiy of the Western Cape and all…But my heart goes out to Scranton for keeping me sane with regards to these little lessons I picked up on during my first few days on UWC campus. It made me realize how lucky I am to go to the University of Scranton, where not only do we have both toilet paper AND privacy in our bathrooms, as well as coffee shops that open on time (you should see the line at Starbucks and Java City every morning!), but we also have a super-efficient scheduling system, library, and just overall organization.

So here is what I miss about Scranton – my little list of those things that students at the UofS often take for granted, but really matter. Here’s to you, Scranton:

1. Coffee shops open on time – Shout out to the workers at both Starbucks and Java City for knowing my name and order, and for happily fueling my caffeine addiction.
2. Maintenance staff. You guys are AWESOME. Seriously. Thank you for keeping campus clean and beautiful, for cleaning our Residence Halls and dorm rooms, for chatting with me about your lives, and being some of the friendliest people on campus.
3. The Weineberg Memorial Library – oh how I miss your silent 5th floor and spacious study rooms! Also, I’ve heard a rumor that the 24-hour study room was revamped while I was away, and it looks great!
4. MyScranton – our online student portal. Thank you for being so user-friendly and organized.
5. Course Registration and Housing. Current UofS students: Never complain about registration or the housing lottery again. You want to talk about the “Housing Hunger Games” or the “chaos” that we call Course Registration? Try waiting in line at the University of the Western Cape for 4+ hours to register for anything – even to hand in a test. So thank you, MyScranton, the Housing Portal, Desire2Learn academic portal, and Online Course Registration. You just added 4 hours to my day.
6. Teachers who take the time to get to know each and every student – Teachers who offer to grab coffee with students after class, provide tons of office hours, and always give extra help. I miss the UofS teachers who care, and will go above and beyond to help students succeed.
7. Scranton food. Yum. I cannot express how much I miss the Fresh Food Company. UWC food can’t compare (Even if UWC’s samosas are excellent)!
8. Classes starting and ending on time, and students and professors making education a priority, attending classes regularly, paying attention, participating in exciting and intriguing lectures, etc.
9. All of the various clubs and opportunities that the UofS offers for students to get involved. You definitely don’t get that on every campus.
10. The happy, friendly, outgoing people, ready to reach out a helping hand or offer a warm smile, constantly spreading that Scranton sunshine. (This is what I miss the most).

Until next week! :)

Sarah :)

Molweni Nonke! (“Hi to all!” in Xhosa)

For those of you who are new to my blog, I have been studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa since July 6, and I have loved every second of it!

As promised, this blog post will be all about my awesome Midsemseter trip!! About a month ago, my housemates and I traveled through the Garden Route, along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, up to Durban and Johannesburg, and finally to Kruger for a safari!

We left Friday, Aug. 29 at 4 am and drove to Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee bridge in the world at little over 700 ft.   Jumping off and free falling from that bridge was the best feeling I have ever had. The view was beautiful – the sun was golden, reflecting off the rolling hills and jagged rocks and water at the bottom. I hung at the bottom in shock. The entire thing was surreal. Without the support and excitement from my friends in my study abroad program, I would have never done it! I feel so fortunate to be a part of a Jesuit study abroad program. There was definitely some Cura Personalis being spread that morning on the bridge. We all encouraged each other and as a result, had the time of our lives!

After Bloukrans Bridge, we drove along the Wild Coast to East London and then Coffee Bay. In Coffee Bay we went on a 5 1/2 mile hike along the coast and through villages, around colorful huts and roaming livestock in the rolling hills, learning about the cultural practices there. The cultural practices performed in Coffee Bay and along the Eastern Cape in general are fascinating. I gained a new and refined appreciation for their rural way of life and their meaningful traditions.

Next was Durban, where we explored the city, followed by Johannesburg. In Johannesburg, we went to the Apartheid museum and toured Nelson Mandela’s home in Soweto, South Africa’s largest township. At night, we explored the city and stumbled upon a night market, where we shopped around and tried a ton of delicious food! On a quick side-note – Markets are HUGE in South Africa. They are everywhere. My friends and I have our favorites, namely The Old Biscuit Mill on Saturday mornings and The Hout Bay Market on Friday nights. Both markets have food and vendors who sell hand-made, authentic clothing, jewelry, artwork – you name it. As an added bonus, the Hout Bay Market even has live music on Friday nights! Long story short – the markets here are a blast, so we were super excited to find that night market in Johannesburg!

We ended our trip in Kruger for a two-day safari! We went through on a 4×4 scouting out animals and saw the “Big 5,” which was so awesome. The entire trip was exhilarating! To give you an idea of how cool it was, here is a quick anecdote: We went on a sunset safari during our first night at Kruger, and ended up finding an entire family of lions. We pulled up so that we were less than five feet away from them – if I wanted to tempt fate, I could have leaned out of the 4×4 and touched the cub. How awesome is that?! On the way home, we went to Blyde Canyon, the largest green canyon and third largest canyon in the world! Absolutely stunning view!

Anyway, that’s all for this week! Make sure to tune in next week for a list of the lessons I learned during my first day at The University of Western Cape – you’re sure to be in for a few laughs! All I can say is that it makes me miss and appreciate The University of Scranton even more! Well, until next week! :)

Sarah :)

Here are some pictures from my Midsemester trip: Night market, FNB World Cup stadium in Jo-Burg, Blyde Cannyon, East London, Bungee Jumping, and lions at Kruger!

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Welcome to Cape Town! (And a new UofS semester!)

Molo!

That’s how you say hello in Xhosa, one of the eleven national languages in South Africa! Currently, I am studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa for the semester, so look forward to exciting tales of my adventures in this beautiful city!

I will try to cram three months of awesomeness into this one first post to catch you all up on my life in South African! Luckily, I’ve been documenting my experiences thus far in a travel journal, so I’ll be sure not to leave out any important parts!

I live in Observatory, a primarily English and Afrikaans-speaking area; however I am involved in a service-learning program where teach in a Xhosa-speaking township. So I’ll start with a quick Xhosa lesson:

So I would say to you:
Molo! (Hi!)
You would say:
Molo Sarah, unjani? (Hi Sarah, how are you?)
To which I would reply:
Ndipilile! Wena unjani (I am alive! And how are you?)
And you would say:
Ndipilile nam! (I am also alive and well!)

Easy enough, right? It has taken me a while to learn different Xhosa terms and expressions, but I think I am finally beginning to catch on! Other than trying to adapt to the Xhosa culture, I’ve been busy taking classes, teaching, hiking, and exploring. I study at the University of Western Cape, and am taking a Victorian and South African literature class, a South African theatre class, Leaders in Grassroots Organizations, and Theology of Apartheid and Reconciliation. These classes have been fascinating and have really broadened my scope into South African culture!

Additionally, as part of the service-learning program, I teach grade 6 reading, writing, history, and geography at Hlengisa junior-secondary school in Nyanga township. I love my kids. They are super eager to learn and are even more keen to become my friend. They love to teach me Xhosa and tell me about their lives. The most difficult part about teaching in a township is not the language barrier, but the culture barrier, particularly in terms of discipline and corruption. Despite that, though, teaching has been an incredible learning experience. I feel so fortunate to work with these kids. They are so happy. They sing beautifully, without hesitation, everywhere they go. They share their food with each other, when I know for a fact that they barely have enough to feed themselves. Their eyes brighten when they understand a new word. They translate for me. They fill me on all the grade 6 gossip. They write me little love notes. They teach me their hand-games. They bring me an apple every morning. They have started calling me “sisi Sarah,” identifying me as their sister, rather than Miss Sarah. They always hug me goodbye. To say that my time at Hlengisa has been rewarding so far is an understatement.

Being here has given me a completely different perspective on what it means to be alive. There is such a stark contrast between the atmosphere of life in the city, in the slums and townships, and up in the mountains. In the city, I feel alive with curiosity. I want to learn about South African history, explore the water front, and try everything. I have been to countless markets, tried the strangest and most outrageous food, taste-tested every coffee shop in Observatory, poked around random shops, and played tourist, visiting museums, Robben Island, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – everything. I feel alive in the way an explorer must feel alive. In the townships, slums, and squatter settlements, I feel alive in the way that prickles the back of my neck – in the way that gives me chills, gut-wrenching guilt, and an acute awareness of what poverty actually means. And in the mountains, I feel free. There are three peaks in Cape Town: Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, and Lion’s Head. I’ve hiked all three, and those hikes create the most genuine feeling of life that I have ever experienced. One night, my friends and I embarked on a full moon hike. Staring up at Lion’s Head, every hiker’s headlamp and flashlight looked like constellations circled around the mountain. When we reached the top, we looked out over the glowing city on one side of the mountain, and the dark ocean on the other. It was incredible. Climbing each mountain makes me feel life’s rawness. It gives me a chance to be human, and reflect on my humanity – on being alive. I guess I’ve really brought over those Jesuit ideals on Ignation reflection with me!

Here are some pictures from my study abroad experience so far!

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That’s all for now! Next week I’ll be talking about the amazing midsemester trip I just went on! Get ready to hear all about the Wild Coast, Durban, Johannesburg, and a safari! Until next week! :)

Sarah :)