Sitting at my desk at Tufts almost 8,000 miles away from the city where I will spend five months of my life, it’s easy to think of studying abroad as being permanently in the somewhat distant future. However, the rational part of my brain knows that soon I will be leaving behind the school and the people that I have loved for two and a half years, and while I will be making new memories with people I haven’t met yet, life will go on without me at Tufts.
Luckily I also know that it will be worth it. While I’m trying not to form too many expectations about my semester abroad, I somehow consistently find myself eagerly reading other students’ blogs, or Google-mapping random streets in Cape Town and trying to imagine myself walking down the bustling sidewalks. I can’t wait to see the country that is home to such international inspirations as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the country whose people formed a wave of activism so powerful it was able to overturn one of the most profoundly oppressive racist regimes of the 20th century. I can’t wait to learn about South Africa from the perspective of someone living there, to hike the Table Mountains, see the sun set on the African coast, experience the diversity of UCT, and fully immerse myself in the culture of the city I have been daydreaming about for months.
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
I thought I would devote a bit to the seemingly random activities I end up involved in here in Cape Town…what would life be like without the usual (very usual, in my case) randomness, hey? The thing I’ve realized since I’ve been here is that South African life, in all it’s wonder, excitement, and seemingly primitive nature at times, it is surprisingly familiar. As the mystery has worn off, the sense of home emerges. This is no longer a vacation; it is a lifestyle (perhaps a luxurious lifestyle, but yet I will count it as such). And what would “life” be like without the usual patterns and the moments that, although seem silly, make all the difference. When I leave South Africa, it’s not the beaches and shopping and sights that I will miss most; it is the life, my life. Here is a sneak peak into my “normal” life. Read more
I can only imagine what my friends and family are going to say when I return to the states with countless new phrases integrated into my everyday vocabulary. So, I figured the least I could do is explain some of my favorite Cape Townian catch phrases now so that everyone has five weeks to study up. I’ve provided a full dictionary-like description, complete with phonetic spelling, context of use, definition, and example. No excuses if you don’t know what I’m saying when I come home! Read more
With only five more weeks of classes left, I’m eagerly awaiting the end of my semester at the University of Cape Town. I am not very excited to return to the States, however. When I tell this to my friends back home, they are confused. They equate the school and the country as the same experience, and find it interesting that my love of South Africa is so starkly contrasted with my dislike for UCT.
Back home, I attend Bowdoin College, which I can proudly say is ranked 6th in the nation for liberal arts colleges. Needless to say, I am used to a heavy workload filled with hundreds of pages of reading, long essays and rough tests. Coming to UCT, I expected slightly less work, but was aware that UCT would not be easy – as it is the top university in Africa.
Unfortunately, I was in for an unpleasant surprise. The workload is twice as much as Bowdoin, but at the same time I feel like the assignments are not as mentally challenging as the ones I receive at Bowdoin. For example, the essay topics are quite broad, such as “Describe the events of the Cold War,” as oppose to the more complex topics I received at Bowdoin. Read more
Spring Break has (already) come and gone at UCT, and I must say that I earned every minute of my incredible get away. The week before we left, I shut down the library nearly every night working on not one, not two, but three research papers for my courses. Luckily, several of my friends were in the same boat, so we turned what we call “that week” into the most enjoyable experience possible, keeping each other laughing throughout the all-nighters. I love how even the most painful experiences can become cherished memories. Despite the acquired inside jokes from that week, we’re already planning ahead so we NEVER have to go through that again—gotta embrace those learning experiences. Read more
There’s no slowing down during my UCT experience, despite the concept of Africa time. The last few weeks of school have kept me busy reading course packs, writing tutorial papers, and scrambling to see something new in every spare second that I have. Sleep really does feel optional some days; however, I’m continuing to wholeheartedly love my time here. The weather is starting to warm up, the palm trees are looking greener, and we can actually see the mountains on most days—we don’t have to squint through the fog anymore! Read more