Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm here! I'm here!

I'm actually super tired and about to take a nap, but I figured that if my friends saw I was on the internet (damn you facebook!!!) they would kill me if I didn't post.

So here goes!

Now, there's really only 1 important thing to remember:

1). Cape Town > everything

But I'll start with the flight, or to be specific flights.

Flight #1 Detroit to Amsterdam: Very nice actually, almost a completely empty plane so I had five whole seats to myself! But 6 hours on a plane is 6 hours on a plane no matter how you look at it.

Flight #1 dropped me off in Amsterdam at 5:55am, with a 4 hour wait until my Cape Town flight.

(Note about Amsterdam airport: Everyone is really nice, but somehow I found every single person in that airport who didn't speak English, which made for a lot of pointing and smiling.)

Lucky enough about 30 kids from the Study Abroad program in Cape Town were on the same flight as me. And since we're pretty easy to spot (young adult, lots of luggage, alone, and looking hopefully at every new young adult that comes to sit down), we all started chatting. Everyone but 1 of us was from America, the other girl was from Norway and I even found another girl from U of M that I was told wasn't going to Cape Town (SCORE!).

So, the 4 hour layover was great bonding time (Sarah you'll be excited, I made a friend from South Carolina! Don't worry, he represents the South well) but then came the 12 hour plane ride.

Flight #2 Amsterdam to Cape Town: Now a 12 hour plane ride isn't fun to start with, but we were jam packed in that plane. I was luckily not sitting next to a lady puking the entire ride like one of my friends, but I was sardined in for 12 hours, so I believe I have room for complaint. I think in the course of the 32 total hours I was traveling I watched 7 movies and 8 TV shows. Yeah, I'm done with TV for awhile. (Lie, I just finished watching S.A.'s Got Talent with my house mates. AMAZING)

Alright, so Flight #2 finally ends. As the corny Americans, we cheer a little when we touch down (or at least the girl next to me and I did) because we're finally in AFRICA.
At this point, it's 11:55pm, we are slap happy because we're so exhausted and we still have to go through customs, immigration (Corinne, they're two different things in South Africa! And apparently it's really funny that I didn't know that) and then fit all of our luggage (which for most was two 50 lb bags and two carry-ons) onto a bus with all of us crammed in for a 20 minute bus ride to the UCT dorms where we were staying for a few days, and where we had to lug all these suitcases up three flights of stairs.

Needless to say, we survived. I think a lot of this had to do with our slap happy moods and the fact that we were all so excited to be in AFRICA.

Note: Since we arrived at night, we didn't get to see a lot of Cape Town. If we could have, we would have noticed the huge mountain right behind where we're staying. Yeah, imagine opening your curtains in the morning to that!
Beats the view of a tree I had from my window in AA

Okay, so the next day was a "free day" which actually meant we had tours planned all day with our OLs (orientation leaders which just means local UCT students showing us around). And of course some friends and I decided to go to Kalk Bay.

Kalk Bay = gorgeous!

The shops and a view of the mountain from Kalk Bay. (Yeah, I know, I'll get an actual picture of the bay soon)

I didn't take many pictures because I forgot I had a camera, but I promise to steal some from a friend soon so you can see it. We took about a 45 minute train ride there, and the train was so close to the ocean that in some parts it looked like the train was in the water. And yes, we Americans all Ooooo-ed and Ahhhh-ed, just like tourists. But I think we're allowed to be tourists for the next two weeks until classes start.

So we spent a few hours at Kalk Bay eating delicious food and having cocktails.
Okay, so it may have only been 11am in Cape Town, but
1). It was one of our friend's birthdays, so we had to celebrate!
2). Most of the people I was with can't drink in the States, so it was really exciting
3). We were in the coolest beach restaurant/bar ever! It had a beautiful view of the ocean and was all tiki torches and the like (and I can't pass up tiki torches)
4). One of our OLs was drinking so we figured it was only right for us to immerse ourselves in local culture.

After Kalk Bay we went on a campus tour.

I think that the University of Cape Town has to be one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen! There's lower, middle and upper campus, and as you may have guessed, each one is just a little higher up the mountain. So I will obviously have amazing legs by the time I return to the States considering all the steps and mountain I'll be climbing.

View from the top of Upper Campus (where most of my classes will be)

View from a memorial above Upper Campus

Upper campus (Yes, there's a rugby field in the center of upper least I think it's rugby)

And to finish off the day, we all went to Long Street for dinner and nightlife. Long Street is a really popular tourist destination, and in the words of one of our OLs "It's called Long Street because it's really long."

We had to take a Jammie (kind of like a Blue Bus for you U of Mers, for everyone else, it's a shuttle bus that circles campus and goes downtown), which should only seat 50. But there were 100 of us. So, we obviously just all crammed in together. I want to check out the record of the most people fit in a Jammie, because I think we came close to breaking that record. By the time we got to Long Street, we were quite the spectacle, 100 young adults walking in a huge group.

We had a delicious dinner and then started enjoying the nightlife. Nightlife in Cape Town is wayyyyy different than in the States (as you might expect). Most clubs are upstairs with a balcony where people talk and dance. Most of them also have DJs. Last night our DJ decided the best music to play would be 90s Dance music from America. When we asked him if he could play anything more recent from America he played Beat It by Michael Jackson. Yeah.

Today we moved into our houses. You are all going to be so jealous of where I'm living. I'm too lazy right now to get up and take pictures, but it is the most beautiful house I've ever seen.
I have 8 roommates, 5 from America and 3 from Germany, and two of the OLs live right down the street.

We have an amazing front porch with patio furniture and everything, along with a brei (which is what they call BBQ in our front yard. See, I'm learning the lingo already!!!) so we're really excited to have friends over. We're literally a 5 minute walk from a lot of shops and to the Jammie if we want to take it to campus.

So that has been my past 4 days of travel and the amazingness that is Cape Town. Something I'm definitely going to have to get used to is how chill everyone is here. Everyone is so laid back and in no hurry. Like when we were supposed to leave for our house this morning at 9 am...yeah, how about 9:45. Or last night, we were told to meet at a club "at a concrete time between 10:00-10:30". Yeah, us Americans had a field day with that one. But as we were all discussing over dinner, laid back is exactly what we need. I know I'm excited to be distracted by Cape Town this semester. I know school is important, but considering the semester from hell I just finished at U of M, I am ready for a new place that is 1/4 as spazzy and anxious as I am.

Who knows, maybe I'll come home completely relaxed and chill.
Okay...probably not but hopefully much less spazzy.

Okay, so now I really am about to fall asleep, so if I have grammar issues, blame my sleep deprivation. Oh, and surprisingly, the jet lag wasn't too bad. I took a 30 minute nap yesterday and I'll probably take one today, but otherwise, I've been good to go. I guess a good thing about a 12 hour plane flight is it's almost impossible not to sleep on it.

Okay, signing off for now, but I promise to update again soon, and hopefully that post will make more sense!


  1. I am so happy you arrived safely! I shall be reading this blog + linking it fo' sho.

  2. 1) I love that you put AFRICA in all caps
    2) the laid back thing is how Spain is too! I think we're just too high-strung in America and need to chill out!
    3) This sounds amazing and I am SO glad that you got there safely and that you're having such a great time already :)
    4) Lovely pictures!
    5) SKYPE SOON!! Love you!

  3. AWWW SC!! Not as cool as NC, but will suffice! Did you tell him you have been to charleston? Everything looks gorgeous I'm so jealous. Everything hear looks like a big bird poop (all white with some dirty spots...yeah that was gross)

    I can't wait to hear about all of this PERSONALLY especially about how I was so right and you would definitely make friends. So suck it. Also about how much fun you're already having without me.

  4. Hurray! You're there! And safe! And you found the people in neon shirts/with a sign for you!

    Your pictures make me soooo jealous. Everything sounds so amazing and beautiful and WARM and relaxed! And I'm so glad you're making friends! Yaay!

    My apologies for all the exclamation points. Again.