New blogger! Since this is my first post on this blog, let me take a few sentences to introduce myself. My name is Sanna Strand, and I’m an International Studies major at HPU. I’m a junior or senior, depending on how you see it. I’m technically two credits away from being a senior, but since I will graduate next semester, let’s just say I’m a senior. I am also an international student, originally from Sweden. But this semester, however, I am neither in Hawaii nor in Sweden, I’m in South Africa. Right now I am in my classroom in Rondebosch in Cape Town.
So, a little more about my study abroad experience. I am abroad with an organization called SIT Study Abroad. The program I’m at is called Multiculturalism and Human Rights, and it is based here in Cape Town, but we have, and will, visit other places too. The reason I chose to go abroad with SIT is that all their programs are field based, which means that I didn’t just come to Cape Town to attend classes at a university just like I do in Hawaii, I wanted an experience that was more different. This includes living in four different homestays, learning to speak one of South Africa’s official languages, isiXhosa, and going on excursions in the country.
I got to South Africa a little over two weeks ago. I won’t go into detail of what we have done since then because this post would be way too long if I did that. Anyway, I flew into Johannesburg where we were supposed to spend the first few days. I managed to meet up two people from my group and after a while we got picked up by some guy. We were taken to the hostel where we were going to live while we were in Johannesburg. The rest of the day our group was just getting to know each other, which was a fun experience because there are not a lot of shy people in this group. After about two days together it felt like we had known each other for months rather than days. There are 23 people in this group, 6 guys, which is apparently a record for this program. We were in Johannesburg for four days, and each day was packed with activities. We went to the Apartheid Museum, Pretoria, Constitution Hill, the Voortrekker Monument, Soweto, Mandela’s house, and a bunch of other places, and we also did a lot of “bonding”-activities.
After the first four days in Johannesburg we flew to Cape Town where we will spend most of the semester. The first four days we lived in a hostel. Our days were still filled with activities and classes, but on the evenings we had some free-time to have dinner on our own, and we also went out for a few beers and drinks most nights.
On Saturday last week, eight days after we got to South Africa, the adventure really started. We moved in with our first homestay family in Langa, which is a township here in Cape Town. Our group is divided into two groups, each group in one mini-bus that takes us to and from school. On the way to the homestays we were all starting to freak out. We were supposed to just move in with a family that we had never met, and live there, like a family-member, for three weeks. As I got off the bus I got really nervous, but luckily Tabisa, our program assistant, was with me and walked me over to the door. But when my Mama open the door, Tabisa left immediately, she had other students to introduce to their new moms. So there I was, alone in a house with my mom for the next few weeks. I knew that I would live with my mom, her daughter, and her granddaughter, but at the moment she was the only one there. We sat down in front of the TV and talked a little. She is not the most talkative and I didn’t really know what to ask her or talk about after a while so it was kind of nice that the TV was there.
So for the last nine days I’ve been living with this family and gotten to know them better. The granddaughter, Liyema, my sister, was really shy in the beginning but after a while she warmed up to me, and now she won’t really leave me alone for more than a few minutes. But I don’t mind, she is really cute and nice. My other sister is a few years older than me, and she doesn’t really spend that much time at home, so I don’t really know her that well yet. I do, however, spend more time with the neighbor kids, which are Liyema’s closest friends. There’s Lindokuhle who is 10, Afika who is 8, and then there’s Acwenga who is 3, and he is the cutest kid I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t speak any English yet, only Xhosa, but he is so happy and just smiles all the time.
Usually my days looks kind of like this: wake up at 6.30AM, breakfast, bus to school at about 7.10, arrive at about 8, free time until 9.30, we usually go to the gym, or work on stuff we have to do, then we have school until 5PM. Usually we get back to Langa at around 6PM, and then I just hang out with mama, have dinner at 7PM, then we watch TV until we go to bed at about 8.30-9.30PM. It’s been a long time since I slept this much, but it is almost making me more tired. The weekends look a bit different. We spend a lot more time with our families, and it’s during the weekends I play a lot with my sister and our neighbors. I also take walks with my mama, or walk over to some of my classmate’s houses, or they come over to my place, we’re pretty much free to do what we want, and so far we’ve been lucky and not had any big homework that needs to be done.Don’t expect too much from me this semester when it comes to updating this blog. I only have internet when I’m in the classroom, and it is very limited, but I will do my best. Most posts will probably look like this, a lot of information but not too many details. Pictures will probably also be limited, but I’ll try to post some pictures later this week. Feel free to comment if there is anything you would like me to write more about.