It's somewhat surreal to type this, but I'm in Africa! Internet is a
bit hard to come across here, so I'm in an Internet cafe in
Rondebosch, the university town a 5/10 minute drive outside of Cape
Town. And I'm very happy/proud to be able to say that I'm here. Life
sure isn't easy down here, not even if you have some money to make it
easier (one of the many differences between here and the U.S.).
The beginning of the trip proved as much. The flight out of the U.S.
was delayed four hours, so I missed my connection in Johannesburg and
spent my first night in Jo'burg. The silver lining was a bunch of
other students were in the same boat, so we got to know each other in
that awkward I-don't-really-know-you-but-we're-going-through-the-same-radical-experience-so-let's-small-talk
way. Or something like that :)
I live in a house a 15 minute walk from campus with four Americans
(from McCalister College, Vassar, Univ. of Illinois and Yale) and
three Norwegians (one of whom goes to school in Paris). Our neighbors
include a German student, and many of the Univ. of Cape Town students
are from outside the country (predominantly Zimbabwe, it seems) so I'm
certainly being exposed to other cultures, which is the point, of
course, and my favorite part of the experience so far.
Cape Town does appear to be gorgeous (I've only been here a few days,
so definitive conclusions should probably be kept to a minimum). The
city seems nice, on the smaller side, quaint perhaps, but the area
surrounding it (the Cape peninsula) is just spectacular. Think the
French Riviera/Amalfi Coast/Pacific Coast Highway, just a little more
rugged. We hiked to the Cape of Good Hope yesterday and it was
unbelievable (so were the penguins we saw on the beach!).
Speaking of rugged, I was told many times before I left how
developed/western/white Cape Town is, and I don't doubt those people's
assessments. But without a proper frame of reference (i.e. experience
in any other African city) it's hard for me to agree. For an African
city, Cape Town is most likely more developed, Western and white, but
compared to San Fran or Chicago or Paris or anywhere I've been, it's a
whole new ballgame. Sometimes that's really exhilerating, sometimes
it's a bit daunting. The longer I'm here and grow accustomed to it,
the more comfortable I'll become and the more exhillerating it will
be, I suppose.
So there are some preliminary observations. Everything is off to as
good a start as it possibly could be. Sometimes I feel like a college
freshman, as you may imagine. But the longer I'm here (and the more
patience I muster) the more I'll get to know people, the better I'll
get to know them, the more places I'll be able to see, the more
experiences I'll be able to have, etc.
I'll get pictures out soon, hopefully, as they're much more
captivating than any words. I hope everything is going well for
everyone - I think of each of you more often than you may think.
Take care and feel free to write back. I'll do my best to respond in
short order and it will be good to hear what everyone is up to in the