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What’s Normal Anyway?

“Wait, cheese in the form of dry powder? I don’t understand.”This is what my friend said when I tried to explain the concept of Macaroni and Cheese in a box. This is something that I have come to learn is not a worldwide phenomenon like it is in most colleges in the United States. I continued to make my quick lunch and she watched me put the ingredients together. We ended up splitting the bowl of noodles in the end, she loved it! Read more

In and out of the Class

As has already been mentioned, there are quite a few differences during the Ireland study abroad experience from studying at home, but often these are good and important. The classroom culture, I suppose, is much like that of large schools in America during lectures. The main difference, however, would probably be that participation during tutorials is much harder to come by in Ireland. I have found on occasion that I have to ‘force’ myself to participate just to end the awkward silence after a question is asked and no one is answering. So here, there are obvious positives and negatives.

As far as how things are outside the classroom, getting around town is easy enough. A bus goes right from the campus into the city centre, and from there, it is easy enough to either walk, find a cab, take another bus, or for particularly long destinations, taking the trains, all of which I have found to be very well kept and operated. Once you get to where you need to go, pubs obviously aren’t hard to find, and the food, especially fish and chips, is wonderful.

Finally, it is important to go over holidays. During the fall semester, there is really only the October 31st Bank Holiday, which also happens to be Halloween. During this four day weekend, I took a train from Dublin to Sligo to stay with some family for a while, and had a great time experiencing the beautiful sights and ‘true’ Irish culture outside of the big city.

When Thinking About Stereotypes in SA

There was a point in my time here when a lot of my American friends back home were asking me questions like, do I see lions and zebras everyday on the way to class? Or, do I live hut? I guess you can say that a stereotype about South Africa is that the people there are of the jungle and very tribal. So far I have not seen this stereotype; the people and environment of Pietermaritzburg is very urban. Some stereotypes South Africans have about Americans are that we have a lot of money, that take-out food is a big part of our diet, and in my case as a black American, that we’re all rappers. Here, stereotypes of other cultures are acknowledged but rarely used negatively. So far I have not encountered negative uses of stereotypes, of any culture, not just Americans. If I could bring anything back from here to the US, it be the friendliness and openness of the people. You don’t really see that a lot in New York City, mostly because people are always in rush to get somewhere. The people here are more relaxed and I really appreciate that.

Ushaka Land: A Poem by Melissa Brodie

Melissa Brodie, an Interstudy student from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College (Durban) Summer Program, shared this poem with us about her time in South Africa last summer. Nice work Melissa and thanks for sharing!

Ushaka Land

“Sawbona Sissy!”
“Yebo,” I answer grinning. Read more

UPDATE: Student Produces Play in Cape Town

Josh Wilder, Interstudy student studying at the University of Cape Town met his fundraising goal for his play, Township Safari! The show is going to be Nov 14-16 at the New Africa Theatre. Congrats to Josh and his team!

Lesedi Cultural Village

Lesedi Cultural Village was established in 1993 in order to provide locals and tourists alike an experience of the traditional cultures of well-known African tribes — the Zulu, Basotho, Xhosa and Pedi that have occupied South Africa for centuries. Representatives of these tribes put valuable input into the design and creation of the cultural village that is meant to recreate not only the portrayal of the cultures and traditional ways of life of these tribes but to also allow for interaction with those visiting the village. Read more

Braais and Beats

If the word “braai” isn’t familiar to you now, it will be within two days of spending time in South Africa. A “braai” is basically an American style barbecue, and quite similar to the chillin’ and grillin’ that we may do at home. But, it’s not just about whatever you are cooking over the flames. These braais give everyone a time to take deep breaths and relax, to talk and to listen, and of course, to sing and dance. Read more