Sunday, May 23, 2010

12 days more in Cape Town

It's hard to believe how fast my time in Cape Town has gone, and how few days are left. The fact that our program ends in 12 days is beginning to sink in, and we are beginning to realize how close our group of service-learners has grown over the past four months. Despite our cornucopia of personalities and interests, doing service is the one thing we all have in common, the one thing that bonds us all together. And after leaving any type of group program such as this, there is always some small feeling of disappointment when you are no longer around people who understand certain jokes.

As I begin to mentally prepare myself to end one journey and begin another, I'd like to take a few minutes to reflect on (1) some of my favorite things about South Africa; (2) some of the things I took for granted back home; and (3) some of the new words and meanings I've learned. I'm sure I'll add onto these lists in the next several days.

1. Some of my favorite things about South Africa

- The ketchup. They call it tomato sous, but it's ketchup. It looks the same, but it's 10 times sweeter than the ketchup back home. It caught my taste buds off-guard the first time I had it, but I've come to like it sweet.

- Acquiring a bit of an accent. I don't consider it a bad thing to be able to immerse oneself in a culture so much that one's own language begins to take the shape of the host culture. I've found myself unintentionally using distinctly South African phrases and inflecting my voice in patterns that are more South African than American.

- Being mistaken for a South African. Much to my surprise, this has happened on a few occasions. It's a nice feeling though, really. Some people never overcome the stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb-tourist-phase; I consider this ability to assimilate with a new culture a gift.

- Taxis. The taxis in South Africa are what we would call mini-buses back home. The taxis are run by the Coloured population, are often overcrowded, and frequently uninsured, but they are an efficient and economical way to get into the centre of Cape Town, and it only costs about US $1. It's a great system, in my opinion, as long as the taxis aren't on strike.

- The BIG university setting. I think this one speaks for itself. Ursinus is going to feel even smaller after being at the University of Cape Town. I've enjoyed the anonymity of it all.

- Table Mountain. I'm going to miss seeing the mountain towering over me every morning.

- South African Sunshine. All these hours of daylight and sunshine have been great for my spirit - and acne!

- Being able to walk barefoot anywhere you please.

- Internet. I definitely took fast and free internet for granted. Never again!

2. Some of the things I took for granted back home: grated cheese, chocolate chips, M&M's, drying machine (for clothes), milk that doesn't spoil after five days, my car

3. Some of the new words and meanings I've learned

- Chips = French fries (potato chips are also called chips, so to distinguish between the two you can say "hot chips" to refer to fries)
- Petrol = gasoline
- Boot = trunk of a car
- Takkies = sneakers
- Speed hump = like a speed bump only wider, so it's more of a hump than a bump
- Hoot = honk, as in "Please don't hoot your horn."
- Learners = students
- Robot = traffic light (thought I admit I didn't hear this used too often)
- "Just now" = a phrase used to indicate time; it could mean 2 minutes, 15 minutes, half an hour, 4 hours, or never
- "Now now" = right now
- Howzit? = What's up? (An appropriate response would be "cool, and you?")

And, I'll conclude with a couple of pictures from the recent talent show we hosted for the learners from Equal Education...

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