Saturday, February 7, 2009

Laura Mac makes a comeback: 19th of Jan-7th of Feb: TIA. This Is Africa

WHAT UP YA’LL!?!? DJ Laura in da house. Stevi has been taking over the blog and I haven’t read through all of her entries because I am lazy so I will hit you up with the most exciting stuff and hope I don’t overlap too much with Stev. Which means I’m going all the way back to the day everyone arrived – 19th of Jan. WOWZERS LONG BLENTRY (Karen, I hear you call them blentries, too?).

19th of Jan
Everyone arrives. 3 boys move in next door and one of them dates a girl that goes to Colgate (I knew this before hand) but its funny that they’re next to us. I went out to dinner with my fam since everyone was unpacking and stuff and I was so excited to come home and sleep since I thought everyone would be jetlagged and stuff, so I get back at like 11pm and meet some people and then we hear people are going up to the 7/11 for basic groceries so my roommate Julie and I get our wallets and we walk outside and the OLs (orientation leaders) throw us in a cab. We wind up at Tin Roof, a UCT (uni of cape town) bar. It was tons of fun and great bonding for the Americans. We also get our first taste of how gorgey SA people are, UGH they are beauty.

20th of Jan
We get a basic tour around our town and our first step is the AIDS clinic. Thanks, Puhmla (our O.L.). If we turn right off of our street we’re in a ghetto-er neighborhood. But if we turn left we go towards a nicer area with a MALL (WOOT!). There is also a nicer supermarket (that sells Heinz, thank god). And to give another example of how incredible SA ppl are, the manager of the grocery store let one of the workers walk us back with a cart so we didn’t have to carry our bags all the way home (like a 20 minute walk). Stevi FINALLY gets in from her adventure in Senegal at like 12am and I show her off to all of the Americans when we get home.


21st of Jan
BORING orientation stuff and a mini tour of the campus, which is BEAUTIFUL. All of the buildings are like a light brown brick, covered in ivy, everything is green. Oh, and there is a mountain backdrop. This country sounds so ugly, right? Stevi, Julie, and I go to Camps Bay for a little beaching but its sorta late when we get there so we get drinks at the restaurant Caprice where I went with my family because everyone that goes there is beautiful (like my fam and all the hottie SA manboys). We go out in Observatory (called Obs. I knew I picked the right country when I learned they abbreviate here). This one bar had 4 different areas including a rave and a beach. It was so cool.

22nd of Jan
More orientation stuff. Including a woman who came in and explained how the library works. The same speech we got as young 7th graders at Edgemont High School. Stevi even fell asleep. Then we had our last McDonald family rendezvous with Julie and Stevi (my roommates.. duh) at two wineries. I slept during the car rides in the trunk of our car. Then we ate dinner at this little restaurant called Amici. It was attached to a hotel behind Long Street, and it was wack. Dinner took about 3 hours cuz the wait staff was SO slow and Jude was really not into the whole place. They came with her “summer salad” that had some sort of fish on it that was not advertised on the menu. She got in a fight with the waitress, which we all thought was hilarious (of course). We also almost left the restaurant because the service was so horrible (even though my food was GREAT) AND jeffy ordered a martini, it came and sucked, so he went up to the bartender and taught him how to make a martini. Usually my fam just roles with the punches, but “what makes this night different from all nights?” Who knows, I never went to Hebrew school.

23rd of Jan
Today is the day my family decides to leave me in Africa, which is sad BUT I got to climb a mountain. Our entire program climbed one of the harder routes up table mountain and it was AWESOME. Similar to all of Cape Town, the mountain and scenery was incredibly beautiful, as were some of the SA guides who led us up the mountain. The whole day took 6.5 hours hiking up and down with breaks at different points. I felt like superman. But female.

View from top of Table Mountain:

24th of Jan
I wake up feeling like POO – I can tell I have something wrong with my throat (prob strep), but I don’t want to miss out on the fun so I go to the beach with everyone. We went to Muizenberg, which is a beach on the Indian ocean side meaning the water is warm (its also a surfing beach for beginners AND where everyone gets eaten by sharks). Because of said illness I pass out for 4 hours even though Stevi tried to wake me up like 3 times. This not only leads to feeling worse from the sun, but I also get a BAD burn on the back of my thighs, which still look like snakes losing layers of their skin (sexy). Anywho we leave around 530 even though we are told not to take the trains past 6 and go to train station. Just as we are walking up a train leaves so we have to wait for the next one. At this point I am feeling HORRIBLE, like can’t support my body weight or even my head. And this is not the place you want to lie down for a siesta. FINALLY the train comes after about 43 minutes, and 10 minutes into the ride I run towards the door, but don’t make it in time to open it and I throw up all over the door, floor, and two SA guys’ shoes. I apologize to Team America and go back to my seat feeling much better. Finally we get to the end of the 40-minute ride and come to our stop at Rosebank. About 20 people need to get out and after about 12 leave, the doors close and the train starts moving. Aaron says “HELL NO” and forces the doors open and hops out. Then a few more Americans do so. Stevi, Julie and I are left and the train is really speeding up so Stevi and I jump at the same time, get our limbs caught, and go rolling around. Julie dives over us and also falls, but Stevi and I hit HARD. Instead of helping us up Aaron reaches over and pulls Stevi’s dress down. That’s what friends are for. We leave hysterically laughing because – as we always say, “T.I.A.” – This Is Africa, and what else can we do? And of course 1 minute outside the station I throw up about 7 more times. Then we walk home, me covered in regurgitated cough syrup, and Stevi and I sporting some badass battle wounds. Nothing like a day in Africa.

25th of Jan
I am sick as a dog, but it’s a Sunday and SA’s don’t work on Sundays because they are all at the beach. I lay in bed all day. Other people went to a tattoo convention in the city center though, which sounds SO cool.

26th of Jan
Julie sends me a text at 7:00am saying she feels like poo too. (rhymes). We make doctors appts and Stevi comes along because she is a kind soul. Turns out Julie has strep, and I have strep AND tonsillitis. I would say I am the winner here, but Julie doesn’t actually have tonsils. We get a prescription for FOUR different meds (anti-biotic, pro-biotic, throat lozenges, and this stuff to gargle with for the pain), which all added up – without insurance – to about $18. Isn’t Africa just dandy?

27th of Jan
I am feeling MUCH better, what with all 93 medications I was prescribed, so Stevi and I did an errand day. We brought our laundry to the Laundromat where they kindly do your laundry for you at a fat fee of $5. Then went to an internet café about 15 minutes away and checked out the mall that was a little further. For those of you that have snuck away to SA at some time in your life may have seen Mini Buses driving around. SA doesn’t have a national public transportation system so these private companies (gangsters) own white 10-person vans that drive around to different parts of Cape Town Proper (CT and suburbs). In each van sits a driver and a yeller who lean out the window yelling their end destination “CAPE TOWN!” At first us sexy ladies thought they were just trying to cat call to us, but it turns out they just want our money and would take a fat old man over us if he paid. Good for our self esteem. Anywho, at this point we understand the system and hop on and off of these to go to towns along Main Rd, which is what we live off of. It is about 5-10 rand to anywhere in Cape Town, which is amazing because that is 50 cents to $1 American. You just have to be ballsy enough to ignore the stories of people getting mugged at gun point in these things. But hey, T.I.A.
I guess I forgot to mention previously that for the past few days the keypad outside of our apt has been broken. We’ve been propping open the door with a rock (safe. NOT.) but when we get home the rock was moved and the door is locked. We have no idea how to get into our apt so we go nap in our friends next door until we hear glass shatter really loudly. We run outside and it turns out our friend and neighbor Jon has punched out the window – WE’RE IN!! Of course, if you remember to the early days about our creepy landlords, we had been told every day that the lock would be fixed as well as the window, but it took a WEEK for them to fix everything. T.I.A.

28th of Jan
Train to Muizenberg (shark beach), but it gets WINDY there. Like abrasive windy with the sand. So we leave really quickly. Julie and I go to the mall with our friends Elena and Hannah and spend some of Jude’s hard-earned bucks. We go out but Stevi Julie and I are so tired we retire early and SLEEP.
Today was boring, so I will elaborate on this TIA saying I use so much. Basically it is Africa’s easy way out of treating us like poo, but it really works. Any time ANYTHING goes wrong, we just say “TIA,” and it just makes everything okay because we are across the globe and we can’t do anything about it. It also makes us laugh, and laughter makes everything okay. So when supermarkets close at 430pm or when trains leave you bloody and throwy-uppy, you just gotta laugh and blame the mother country. Get it? Got it. Good. Moving on…

29th of Jan
We wake up “early” (930) and go to the beaches all day. Clifton beach is right near Camps Bay where all the beautiful people hang out, and the beach is.. beautiful. I know you guys are annoyed by that word and you don’t really believe everything is as magnificent as it sounds, but you better believe it. And if you don’t, come visit and I’ll prove it to you.
This day was great, but I’ll stop bragging because most of you are really pale right now while I am busy soaking up the rays every day. We ate lunch at this restaurant that many people had partied at on Sunday (because Sunday is obviously a huge going-out night..) but I was too sick to do. We also saw people hang-gliding off of the mountain to a landing park right near the restaurant, which gave me new ideas on how to spend J&J’s money. We went out to this bar called Springboks where they advertise a Thursday night “Jug Night” where you get a huge pitcher and get to fill it with anything for R45 ($4.50). We were all like, YEAHHHH ITS SO CHEAP, WOOOOOT! Until we realized that they put about .25 of a shot of alc in this pitcher and fill the rest with sugar. RIP OFF. So we just danced the night away on a sugar high.

30th of Jan – The Day of Tourism
Stevi, Julie, and I decide to be tourists for a day and do the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus around Cape Town. We stop at the South Africa Museum and read about some history and make fun of the nudey plaster models portraying African village life. Then we look through the animal exhibit. Next we stop at the SA Jewish Museum so we can convert Julie to Judaism, but as we were walking around we finally admitted to each other that we all actually hate museums and could no longer pretend to smile and nod at the exhibits. We hop on board the bus and let it take us to Camps Bay because we would much rather learn about the human body (tan and muscular on this beach) than the Jews. We ate there and took the bus back and slept the night away. Who knew museums could take so much out of you?

Me, Julie, Stevi at SA Museum:

31st of Jan – Horse Races at The Met
This day was FUN. We knew we were going to the races so we all bought big, floppy hats while we were in Camps Bay the day before. We were scared we would look silly in these hats until we arrived to see that this year’s theme was “Disco Ball.” SAs don’t go to horse races to bet on horses, but instead to enter fashion contests for the best costume fitting the theme, which meant there were couples EVERYWHERE wearing the most ridiculous outfits I have EVER seen. If and when I upload pics, you will understand.

We were also told we should get there early so we arrived at 1030 only to find the first race did not start until 12:30, so what did we do? Ordered drinks of course. And took pictures with the outfitted people. And made sexy eyes at hottie SA guys. And then we were warmed up enough to spend money so I put R10 on five of the nine races, which is $1. AND I won two of those races!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But I did a swing bet, so I only won R44, so I didn’t net any money, but hey – who’s counting!?
We did the horse races with a group of seven girls, and we left around 430 to go back and shower because some of the boys had bought tickets for the horse race after party and we wanted to go with them. We showered and got all pretty and I put on the same sweaty dress and then we went to the party. At first we got lost and got denied from all of these smaller, private parties, but finally we found the main area and it was CRAZY. Actually a little too crazy so we left kind of early and called our favorite cab driver Steve. About 7 of us were in a cab and we had left some behind, but 3 more wanted to come find us. We waited on the phone with them forever and finally they found us – with a LARGE Irish man in tote, wearing none other than a full kilt outfit. Of course. I kept yelling “AMERICA ONLY AMERICA ONLY!” but this guy came in the cab with us anyway and got dropped off on route to our home so we were safe. Then we had a small get together in my friends apartment where a few of us sang showtunes with champagne bottles as our microphones. It was a grand old time at the time, but now I am known for belting Gwen Stefani tunes off key. WOOPSEY.

1st of Feb (FINALLY)
Interstudy (my program of 47 wonderful Americans) arrived on Jan 19th obviously, but the rest of the American programs (bringing the America count to 300 peeps) arrived on 31st of Jan. They really cramped our style bc at first we were a novelty with sexy American accents (not so sexy, but still different), and now we are just a huge group of annoying, rowdy Americans, so us interstudy kids SHUN the others.
Today was our first day of UCT (Uni of Cape Town) orientation for all SSA (semester study abroad) students. We were all forced to meet at the bus stop at 8am to sit on a bus for the entire day with a tour guide. It would have been amazing and awesome when we first got there, but I seriously could have given half of the tour (because I’m so acculturated *hair swoosh*). It was also a pretty crazy after party the night before so sitting on any moving object was hard for most of the cool interstudy kids, and most of us slept through the tour. WOOPS. We stopped at Boulder’s beach and saw penguins, ate lunch at a coloured community center, and then climbed to the tip of Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. The lunch was really cool because some kids in the community have a program where they learn to dance, so we got a break-dancing performance!!! It was so good. Although the head of the community center was this heshe who looked sort of Native American, but wore the WEIRDEST OUTFIT – a black leotard with a thong (which we had the pleasure of seeing when it kneeled down), and these hand-made jeans that were four pairs of jeans sewn together. A picture is also needed here – I’ll work on it.

2nd of Feb
Unlike America, there are not nail salons on every corner of every street. This would be fine if we could at least find ONE place to get our nails done. We went to the mall in Claremont (a few towns away) and found two spas that did nails. While in each of them four employees sat doing nothing, we were told we had to make appts before we came. AKA twilight zone episode 32: we can’t get our nails done.
Then we have to go to our next American orientation thing (ugh) called the PTEEP test, which is a test that proves we can think and learn in English. And to think, we didn’t get a review book beforehand! And of course, being that this is Africa, the test proctor took SO long to explain the test including the explanation of how to fill in a circle on a scantron sheet. She also walked us through writing our initials: “You see my name is Carol Anderson, so I would write “C” for my first name “Carol” and then “A” for my surname “Anderson.” Stevi looked at me and goes, “oh so when we were labeling our groceries this morning, that was called “initials”? Hmm, I guess we did study.

3rd of Feb
Happy birthday to Sarah Leiner!!!
Not to take away from your birthday glory, but today is the day I tried SURFING!!! Stevi and I went to the beach with some guys who had gone surfing before, so we all rented surfboards and Stevi and I went out hoping we would just figure it out. We basically just stood in the water giggling at the waves for 20 minutes before the boys found us and told us what to do. It was one of the most fun days I have had here in Africa. Surfing is FUN. But its also HARD. Once you catch a wave the water is moving pretty quickly so getting to a standing position is not easy, especially since my board hadn’t been waxed recently meaning it was really slippery. I did ride a ton of waves in on my knees, but Stevi stood up a few times!!!!! YAY STEV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4th of Feb
Since my life is so hard here, we decided to take a beach day at Clifton.

5th of Feb: Wild Goose Chase
For all of you elders out there, class registration in America is quite simple. You log into your school’s database online at the allowed time (usually by class year) and type in a few numbers of the classes you want, and then you are done. Five minutes of clicks of a mouse and your schedule is planned out. Not the case in SA. We are reminded of SA’s third-world status when we hear about registration.
We had to pre-register for courses when we applied to the program and some of these courses were approved, but most were not. I also did not want to take ANY of the classes I originally asked about, not to mention some of the classes I was approved for don’t actually exist anymore (3rd world). So this was the day that we had to “figure shit out” all day. First, we went on a wild goose chase looking for a course catalogue so we could simply find out what classes are offered. We ran around campus and finally gave up and went to the office of the American program we are on (interstudy) and found that there was ONE course catalogue there. So we all sat on our computers guessing courses we may want and then looking in the one book so see what time the class was offered. FINALLY after 3 hours we had a list of classes we may want to take that are potentially not conflicting time-wise. Next goose chase involved running to the heads of each department and getting signed in to these courses. Eventually, Julie Stevi and I got 4 classes we are excited about, and one that the 3 of us are taking. I celebrated with a four-hour nap.
My courses: Organisational Behaviour and Research (business psych course that won’t transfer to Colgate but im SO excited about), Ancient Mythology, Critical Thinking (philosophy course), and Crime and Deviance in South African Cities. If only I knew where on campus these classes were…

6th of Feb: Registration Day
We were told this would be the day from hell because we had to register for classes not online like in the US but on PAPER. We got up early and were up on campus at 830 for registration at 9. We were first on line and since it was only study abroad kids, we finished in an hour, including getting GHASTLY photo IDs that I will not be showing my new SA boyfriends that don’t exist yet anyway.
Stevi, Julie, the two boys next door, and I decide to work out so we try to go to the gym, which we were told was free, but they wouldn’t let us work out (TIA) so Stevi and the boys went up to the Recreation office to buy memberships and Julie and I just ran on the track. It turns out it is free for us internationals but we needed to get vouchers, which Stevi and Charlie now have. Jon lost his somewhere along the walk back to the gym so he gave up and went to the mall instead. What’s nice about going to school in heaven is that there is a pool right on campus for students. So after our hard workouts we all dove into the pool and then read our books next to it, while also looking for hottie first-year guys swimming nearby.

7th of Feb: I’m all caught up!
Since we have been here for going on 3 weeks now (although yesterday was MY one-month anniversary in SA!!) some people decided to take trips this week. Many people went to the Garden Route on the eastern side of the country and will be back in 4-6 days. A group of our favorite guy friends went to NAMIBIA for SIX DAYS. We really miss them already, but we have to make do without them : (
Stevi and I ate breakfast at our friend Aaron’s place with Jackie and Jill (Jack and Jill). Then the four of us minus Jill went to Clifton with three other guys. It was SO hot today that I actually had to lie under an umbrella for an hour. I also saw this amazing hot pink bathing suit (SAs call them “cozzies”) and asked the girl where she got it. She said there was a store in the mall at the V&A Waterfront (touristy area that the McDonald’s stayed in). The seven of us went to the mall and I got a cozzie (WOOPIE!) and then the girls stayed for dinner at Balducci’s – a GREAT Italian restaurant that my fam ate at when they were still here.
So remember how beautiful and wonderful it is here? Well it hasn’t rained once, until tonight. And it poured for like 20 minutes. I mean POURED. Luckily Stevi and I were still in our cozzies at this point (around 743pm) and we see Aaron outside running around in his pink american apparel underroos so we run outside and start a dance party in the rain! Ugh you just cant predict this kind of fun. About 10 of us were out there dancing and singing in the rain (Oh, I just know Jude broke out into song on this one) in our bathing suits. It was beautiful.

WOWZIES. It feels grand to be caught up on this thing. I apologize profusely for repeating so much of what Stevi probably already wrote, but not really because I feel like a million bucks being all caught up. Hopefully I can get to an internet café soon and add a ton o’ pics. Until then.. all my love, and remember: T.I.A.


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