I’ve just landed in Durban. My flight from Cape Town was extremely quick, and fairly comfortable (aside from the fact that I was asked to pay R9 for a cup of tea, and not having any cash I had to pay all in coins…). It is warm here, not hot, but comparable to a Seattle summer, which is a nice change from freezing cold and rainy Stellenbosch. I’ve taken a look at the forecasts and this is pretty much what I can expect for the duration of this trip, which makes me very happy. The group I’m meeting up with is driving from another town and so I am stuck at the airport for a couple hours (not wanting to pay for a taxi to the hostel). Mugg and Bean is a classic South African chain restaurant, a favorite of mine in Stellenbosch and so I’ve chosen to hide out here until my ride comes. Already I am extremely excited to start this trip. It was a good time for me to get out of Stellenbosch, and the perfect transition between the two lives I am going to live while in South Africa this year. I have said goodbye to a few friends, though as most of my friends are locals, I’ll be seeing them again in about 6-8 weeks when they come back for third term (another plus about not making a ton of American/international friends). Though my friend Grace did introduce me to a few of her other international friends who will be here next semester as well, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them more when I return. I’m quite surprised at the solid group of friends I’ve accumulated while here (less than five months). It took me ages to fit in so well at Northeastern, and part of that involved joining my sorority. I can’t tell if I’m just getting better at it or if I just fit in very well here. Either way, it’s so nice to have people say they are going to miss you.
Things have been much better lately. After struggling to gather all the materials for my visa renewal (and three trips to home affairs in a town 30 minutes away), my application was finally filed, and I should get the permit within the next month. And I finally made it to another SLiPnet poetry session, which was incredible as always. I was introduced to a few more people involved with SLiPnet, and was even given a shout-out to the crowd. My internship starts at the beginning of July, and though the time off will be nice, it will be good to have something to do again.
For those of you that don’t know, my mom has been back and forth to Thailand this year, helping out with my Grandma who needs a little more assistance these days. She is back there for the third time now, and has decided to start a blog. This is the link: http://chiangmaibacktowhereistarted.wordpress.com/ It has been fascinating to read about her experiences rediscovering her childhood in Chiang Mai (my aunt’s house is two sois, or lanes, away from one of the homes she grew up in), and also taking care of my Grandma. Some of it is heartbreaking, and in case you didn’t know, my mom is a wonderful writer. I’ve never seen it before until now since she doesn’t do a ton of writing like this, but I love it. I’ve always known she was an English major, but she used to say how she can’t write creatively at all – calling your bluff on that one mom, it’s not true at all.
Recently one of the other Americans in my program and I did a presentation to a group of university students in South Africa who are traveling to DC to intern and study for six weeks. It was part of their orientation, and was focused on culture, and what to expect in America. Shockingly, I had a ton of fun doing it. We spent the whole morning with this group of about 15 who are all our age and from Stellenbosch, UCT and UWC. We chatted with them during the tea break, and by the time our part came, it really was more of a casual discussion. There were slides, but we encouraged them to interrupt them with questions and it was so interesting to hear their concerns and inquires about the US. When we finished, we were given chocolate as a thank you (unexpected, but very much appreciated) and even gave our contact information to some of the students. It showed me how much more familiar I am with South African culture than when I first arrived.
Probably won’t be writing another blog until the trip is over, but be prepared to be bombarded with pictures when I get back. I want to ware my camera out with use.