I was going to write about the fun stuff I’ve been doing since I arrived in Cape Town. I was going to write about adjusting to a massive school like UCT. I wanted to talk about the exciting things I’ve done and seen- the whales, the baboons, the penguins, lions, wine tasting, peri-peri, the Old Biscuit Mill, bungy jumping, backpackers, the Garden route, the night life. I really did. But then I started looking around and found something far more worthwhile to write about at this time. Read more
When thinking about South Africa some of us (myself included) immediately envision the country’s beautiful national parks and sub-tropical climate. During the process of choosing to study in South Africa I had nearly no knowledge of the country’s political history, and barely even knew what Apartheid was. Scratch that. I didn’t know what Apartheid meant or was AT ALL.
Having now spent a year living, studying and traveling throughout Southern Africa I can say that I more fully understand the history of this incredibly beautiful and resilient, spirited region. This is why I am writing this post today, a day that is celebrated across South Africa and the African continent. Read more
About six months from now our students who studied abroad in Southern Africa will be boarding their planes to return home. Most of you will likely be doing so begrudgingly, kicking and screaming along the way, grabbing onto anything possible in order to stay put longer. Upon your return home there will be some culture shock, and you will likely be subjected to questions such as, ‘Were there elephants outside your door?’ ‘What was it like on Robben Island?’ ‘Did you hike to the top of Table Mountain?’
Anyone who has done their research on what to see in Southern Africa would ask these questions – but there is much more to explore in this beautiful region. This is why I have constructed a Southern Africa “Bucket List” for places to check out along the road less traveled. Following this list will fully immerse you into this great region. Just click on each item to read more. Be sure to do your own research too – there is still so much more to see beyond this list!
Enjoy a full-moon hike at Lion’s Head Mountain
Catch a concert at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Living in a country that is a literally on the opposite end of the world, we as Americans may be predisposed to various notions or judgments about the foreign land of South Africa. As future students of the country, it is important to recognize the 1st and 3rd world elements that South Africa entails. Of course with your acceptance into some of the country’s (and world for that matter) most respected universities you are fortunate to reap the benefits of the best that South Africa has to offer. Whether it be living in the heart of Cape Town, just a cab ride from the Camp’s Bay of Table Mountain, taking a quick cruise in Stellenbosch for a wine tasting on a beautiful vineyard, walking out of your dorm in Port Elizabeth for a quick morning surf, or venturing to the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu Natal you as students will be able to see the best of South Africa has to offer. Read more
As students begin to arrive into their respective Interstudy programs across South Africa they will be exposed to some realities of the country that are foreign to us in the first world. Likely the most ‘in your face’ difference will be the obvious separation of wealth through the observation township living. Townships often refer to the underdeveloped urban living areas that were reserved for non-whites during the Apartheid era, mostly built on the outskirts of towns and cities. This dynamic has not changed much since the end of Apartheid, still housing a majority of non-white citizens of South Africa.
Today, South Africans are celebrating Freedom Day in remembrance of the day of the first democratic election in the country in 1994 and the end of apartheid. It was through this election that Nelson Mandela was elected as President of the post-apartheid country. For many South Africans, this is day offers a moment to reflect on the changes, both good and bad, in the country over the past 18 years. One author and activist, Amina Cachalia, reflects on the changes she has seen in South Africa here: Reliving South Africa’s First Freedom Day.
Interstudy students participating on the Interstudy Summer Program to the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Howard College just missed a run in with the First Lady of the United States! The First Lady, Michelle Obama, and her daughters Malia and Sasha were visiting in South Africa yesterday with a rare visit with Nelson Mandela, according to the NY Times. The family also visited the apartheid museum and the township of Soweto, where Nelson Mandela grew up. Read more
When parents come to visit, it usually means days of museums, tours, and fancy lunches, it usually means hotels and mature, censured conversations and saying goodbye to friends for a little family time. When Sarah Kass comes to visit, it means normal life plus one. My mom had a perception of Cape Town as The Africa of The Apartheid. Although the ramifications of that period in history unfortunately remain and affect Cape Town today, the city itself is a vibrant metropolis with the opportunities and wonders of a first world municipality. As you will see, the adventures we took part in were far from my mom’s expectations, yet, they still awed and surprised her with their uniqueness and variance from American culture… Read more
Today is Human Rights Day in South Africa. On this day, 51 years ago, 69 people were killed when police opened fire on a demonstration in Sharpeville, a township not far from Johannesburg. It was this event that motivated the start of an armed resistance in South Africa as well as world condemnation of the policies established during Apartheid. Read more
Wearing raincoats and backpacks. Using a camera. Having a sunburn. Walking in groups of more than three. These are just a few of the things that immediately mark us as Americans on the UKZN campus in Pietermaritzburg. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to someone and the first words out of their mouth are, “Oh, you’re an American, right?” My go-to response is now, “Which gave it away, the sunburn or the backpack?” This is not to mention our accents. The professor of my Introduction to Zulu class made fun of how we pronounced a list of English words, saying if we don’t know how to speak English properly, how can we learn Zulu? Good question. Read more