Since I last wrote, our South African student mentors have introduced us to the Cape Town nightlife. We have gone out as a group of 50 every single night, which attracts a lot of attention. In general, Capetonians are very friendly, however, when you show up in a large group to their favorite local bar, they tend to give the stink eye (however, President Obama has helped a lot—they LOVE him here!).
My roommate, Katrina, finally arrived! We get along very well and I’m glad we’re living together. I am getting to know everyone in the program as well as the Interstudy coordinators, student mentors, locals, and neighbors, and I’m starting to feel very comfortable and welcome here.
Our student mentors have done an amazing job of showing us around Cape Town and answering our questions. They often go above and beyond the call of duty, knocking on doors in the morning for wake-up calls and coming by at night to let us know they’ve booked a “jammie” (shuttle bus) for our outings. There is one Interstudy coordinator here, NJ, who knew us all by name before we even got to Cape Town. He memorized our passport photos and when I arrived, he yelled “Hello Ms. Kippels” from a balcony above me. Americans tend to be very high-maintenance (no way!), and they have been very patient with us.
From Tuesday through Thursday we had Interstudy Orientation, where we were given various campus and area tours, learned about the local history and culture, opened bank accounts, and learned the ropes of student life and transportation. They campus is big and beautiful (search google), and is walking distance from home. I feel like I am fully prepared to start the school year, however, I am really enjoying the break. There is A LOT to do and see here; I have definitely come to the right spot.
We were literally walking through the clouds!
On Friday we all hiked Table Mountain, which was high on my list of things to do here. However, nobody warned us about how difficult it would actually be (and we took the EASY path!). The 3 and a half hours of pain was certainly worth it once we got to the top. When we reached the highest point of Cape Town, the 360 view was spectacular!
The descent was shorter, but terrible. A steep, winding path that made everyone’s knees ache. Although I’m glad that I did it, if anyone visits me here, we’re taking the trolley… I’ve also been to the waterfront, which was very touristy and beautiful, but not all that interesting. Just a lot of shops selling “authentic African” crafts, which I haven’t seen anywhere in Cape Town. I did, however, stumble upon the shop of a local artist, and plan on buying a rhino-shaped, hand-painted pillow before I leave (grooooaan)—but really!