My first two days of school

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
Trip End Jun 23, 2008

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Last Friday I was able to survive what they call class registration in the states! Pretty much nothing is done on a computer. I came bearing a few signed pieces of paper and was redirected into a few different lines before finding out that I needed to go talk to the faculty of science. Luckily, I was one of like 3 other international students in this faculty so after they handed me my paperwork they left and I had no one to ask! Anyway, after all the paperwork was done I wandered around campus through the various maze type buildings until I could find the Science Faculty building. It's kinda funny, a lot of the signs in the building don't lead you directly to your destination but instead through a small little scavenger hunt! It took only a few hours before I found the right office and then was off to getting lost again! I did however get into the two science classes I needed, the Xhosa class, and the African Dance class (which today I might be changing to an African drumming class).

This weekend was pretty relaxed as we prepared for the week ahead of us and the first few days of school.

On Monday (the first day) I had to catch the shuttle at 8:20 because I have a 9:00 am class. When I was getting up I realized that some of my friends in Washington might still be awake doing things on Sunday night... and that was kinda weird! Anyway, loading onto the shuttles was very intimidating. Not only was it packed (we are talking about no sitting space and all standing space full) but I was one of only 2 white kids on the shuttle so people were whispering and pointing at me, but I couldn't understand them because it was in one of the native tongues. Getting off the shuttle onto campus was also weird. I haven't been this nervous for my first day of school at anytime in my life if my memory is correct. I found my class alright and was blown away at the totally different dynamic. Not only was this class all white, but it only has about 18 students in it (UCT has about 26,000). This class (Entomology) seems like it will be a lot of fun and even though we have a required field trip during the semester break, it should be an interesting experience. My next class is Xhosa and once again it is a very small class. I counted only 19 people so it will be nice if I need extra help. The language has 3 main clicking noises that have about 2 pages worth of notes that explain the different sound combinations! My roommate from Zimbabwe speaks a similar language so she is helping me learn how to make the sounds! The last main class I am taking is Aquatic Biodiversity. It is about 35 students or so, but it is not going to be an easy course in the slightest! The first day of class we were told that we had a practical that afternoon (or lab in America) and when I got there I had to buy my own dissecting kit and then they just handed us each our own sea hare (it is kinda like a snail) and we had to dissect it underwater and draw it according to the method taught in the first year course (which obviously I was in America for that).
After that I went to an internet cafe and was locked inside (the guy running it decided to go to the market and no one could get in or leave until he came back)! When he finally came back I was late for the spinning class at the gym (ha ha PLU ppl will like that) and had to wait in line because they didn't want to give me my membership card! Needless to say, the first day was pretty stressful!
Today has been a little better. I was so tired this morning that I almost didn't catch the shuttle. Luckily, I made it and classes went alright. I am finding it hard to make friends in my classes because it is the middle of the school year and everyone already has their group of friends. Outside of class people are pretty friendly. This afternoon I helped my roommate move out of the residence hall because she didn't like it there and I am trying to get myself organized and on track with studying. My classes, for the most part, don't have a text book so it is VERY important to pay attention in class and take good notes.
As for the school itself, it reminds me a lot of high school. My classes are everyday (except one class isn't held on friday). Classes here are done in periods. First period is at 8, Second period 9, Third period 10 etc, but at one there is a lunch period where pretty much everyone at the school is scattered around campus eating in their friend groups. It is wild. We have a couple vender type spots on campus to buy food, but nothing like the commons at PLU. If you didn't catch on from the class times, we also only have 45 minute class periods meaning they go by pretty quick!
I'm not sure what else to write right now. I am doing well but really stressed out over life and the serious changes in culture and atmosphere that I am going through. This experience is exactly what I wanted, but it is so much easier to dream/talk about than actually live! I miss people, but I am not homesick. At times I wonder what I was thinking, but at other times I am assured that this is where I need to be. One thing is for sure, I am grateful to be given the life I have been given. Even during times when I am scared or stressed or whatever, I still feel lucky that I have the oppourtunity to be somewhere where I can learn from these experiences. The rain stopped today and the view alone makes you really take a break and appreciate life. Things in Cape Town are a struggle, but good people walk into my life everyday and I am reminded how great life is.
Hope everyone is well! I'm off to do some homework!
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