Simple Differences

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Jun 06, 2013

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Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

After going home to the States and being asked MANY questions about my life here, I really realized there are many things I need to discuss on this blog in order for you to understand more about South Africa and the new place I am living.

So for today, I am just going to list some simple, basic differences that one will notice:

-When students ask for "rubbers" they are asking for an eraser. Thank goodness. This really threw me off the first few times! Haha.

- When you go out to eat, it's best you plan on spending at least 2-3 hours there. African Time is much different than ours. No one is EVER on time. Being at least a half hour late is “acceptable.” So when you go out to eat, it will take a bit longer to get your food. Plus, when you are invited to “dinner” it means you will be there til at least 11 p.m. It’s a very formal occasion when you go to dinner at someone’s house.

-Customer service is very poor here. There’s the odd few stores, but really it’s almost non-existent. For example, even when you go out to eat, your water most likely won’t be tapped off unless you ask.

-A braai is a barbeque! South Africans only cook over wood, not gas. The meat tastes amazing!! It’s definitely worth the wait to let the coals simmer once the wood has been burned.

-After dinner or lunch, there is a round of tea/coffee to end the meal.

-Everyone uses instant coffee here, not filtered coffee and tea is more popular than coffee.

-Roobois tee is my favorite tea. It is from South Africa and in Afrikaans it means “red bush.”

-Napkins are called serviettes.

-Every school in South Africa, whether government funded or private, all have uniforms. Uniforms are all different depending on the school but all students wear uniforms here.

-There are no school buses in South Africa. In fact South Africans ask me “So in America, do you really have those big yellow things and the kids wait outside at a corner to get picked up for school?!” In the township the children walk to school (even from very far away) while in the nicer/white areas, parents drop-off and pick-up their kids every day.

-At the age of 18, young adults can now drink legally and this is the age that they can legally drive. At the age of 17 they are allowed to get their “Learners.” Instead of putting “student driver” in the back of their window, a big red “L” is placed in the back window on the left hand side.

-Polygamy is legal here. In fact, their President, Jacob Zuma (very corrupt all around (personal and professional life- more info on this later though) currently has five wives.

-Senior year of high school is called “Matric.” So when they “graduate” they actually say they have “matriculated.” They also don’t call it Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year, they call it Standard 9, 10, etcetera.

-Pre-School is called 00 (knot knot) and Kindergarten is 0 (knot)… those are just zeros.

-When spelling words, if a “Z” is in the word, they say “zed.”

- Popular South African drinks: Klippies and Coke (The South African Brandy called “Klipdrift),Vodka and Passion Fruit Juice, Amarula, and Don Pedros

- There’s a HUGE lack of recycling here, even in the nice areas!

- Cans (pop cans) weigh a lot more than ours. They use a lot more aluminum per can.

-Pop isn’t called “Pop” or even “Soda.” In fact any drink that isn’t tea or coffee is usually just referred to as a “cool drink.” So when you visit a house they will ask “Do you want tea, coffee, water, or a cool drink?” This could mean any soda or juice.

- Stores like ours: Makro is a store that is basically like our Sam’s Club and another popular department store is called Game and is owned by Walmart. Woolworth’s is like our Macy’s.

-Yes, they do have McDonald’s and apparently Burger King is coming to South Africa this year as well.

-Sandwiches are called “Samies” (pronounced sawmees) and if it’s a grilled sandwich it’s called in “Army Samie” (prounounced Ahmie).

-They don’t have racquetball, but instead have squash.

-In high school girls are required to play net ball (like basketball) or hockey (field hockey that is; there is no ice hockey here).

-Swimsuits are called costumes.

-Coupons are called vouchers.

-Sheets are not used on beds. Just a comforter with a slip over it that is washed each week and then a bottom sheet.

- Traffic lights are called “robots” and if there are stop signs, it’s called a “Stop Street.”

Okay, so those are just some GENERAL observances.   I will write soon to then explain some common sayings here as well as the political and health issues. It is quite crazy how different the government operates here. This country is so beautiful, but there are so many corruptions that need to be fixed. More on that soon though! 

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