Hello everyone! Greetings from Cape Town!
On September 15th, I left my home in Indianapolis, Indiana to fly to Cape Town for three months. My journey there was very long. I have never flown internationally before so this was new experience for me. First I flew from Indianapolis to New York and was able to visit my friend for a bit during my 9 hour layover. I then went on a plane from JFK to Amsterdam. I was assigned a middle seat which some may find annoying, but my 7 hour flight in the middle seat was not so bad because of the people that sat beside me. They were both in their twenties, one actually going to study abroad in London, and they made good conversation. I watched movies and attempted to sleep and suddenly I was landing in Amsterdam. I would have loved to stay and explore but my layover here was only 4 hours long. The Amsterdam airport was one of the coolest airports I had ever seen because of the furniture. It felt like I was in a giant IKEA. I tried to keep myself awake for a bit but was slowly fading. It was 7am in Amsterdam, so it was 1am back home. I decided to walk around and bought some chocolate. For the remainder of my time, I read my book “Supermarket” by Bobby Hall. My next and final flight to Cape Town was a gruesome 11 hours long. I went back and forth between trying to read and falling asleep while doing so and waking up every 30min just to try and read again. Read, sleep, repeat. I accidentally slept through the first meal on the flight though and had to eat my gummy worms to hold me over. With a few hours left in the flight, I decided to watch a movie to pass the time.
On Friday evening, as we finally landed, I was extremely relieved to finally be at my new home for the next few months. I was met by Lindelwa, a member of the VACorps program I am in and she drove me to my home. We joked in the car about me being able to drive on the left side of the road. It felt strange to get in the car on the drivers side with no wheel, and after me getting very little sleep on the plane, I felt delusional. I arrived at night and as we drove to my house, it was very dark. Lindelwa explained something called load shedding. Essentially, the entire country is on the same power source, so in order to disperse the energy, the power goes out in certain areas for about 2 hours at a time. Luckily, when I got to my house, load shedding ended just minutes after my arrival. A few of my roommates were awake to greet me. My roommates went to sleep and I settled in my room. I went to use the bathroom and could not find the light switch. I searched everywhere and ended up turning on my flashlight because I had no more time to wait. When I finished, I could not unlock the bathroom door. I spent about 5 minutes turning the key both ways and trying to pull it out and at that point I had lost all hope and knew I would have to sleep in the bathroom. I kept trying and finally opened it with a bigger sense of relief than when the plane landed. I also discovered that the bathroom light was in fact outside of the bathroom in the hallway. I headed to my room, took some melatonin, and got some great rest.
We were given the weekend to relax, unpack, and unwind from our long flights. I enjoyed getting to know the 7 other roommates that were already there. My house has a total of 12 rooms, 7 of the people arrived two weeks earlier and had just finished their first week of their internship. Getting adjusted was a lot easier having some people there that knew the area and could show me around a bit. They were also all very nice and welcoming. I am living in an area called Observatory which is a college town located near Cape Town University. There are a lot of different restaurants and shops that are within walking distance which is convenient. They warned us that there are many instances of petty crime in the area, but I already felt well accustomed to the tendencies of being alert and staying safe because of where I live. It felt somewhat normal in that way. One of my roommates took me to get breakfast at this place called Sonder Cafe where I had one of the best bagel sandwiches ever and some very good tea. We then went to the Spar, a grocery store, and I got a few snacks to hold me over. When we got back, some more of our roommates had arrived. I enjoyed getting to know people from all over the world, I had roommates from Palestine, Germany, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, and England, and various cities in the U.S. Our house was also connected with another house next door where some other people from the VACorps program lived. There was a gate connecting our two houses and we would visit each other frequently. I spent most of the day unpacking and getting ready for the night. We were having a get together Saturday night to welcome the new arrivals and get to know everyone. I decided to get dressed and eat once I was finished getting ready, when all of the sudden, load shedding started. I ended up just eating an apple and some chips I bought at the store. We later joined with some other people from the program living in different houses and went to a club in the city. Many of the songs played were from U.S. which was surprising, but I am excited to hear some different songs in South Africa eventually. We had a fun time dancing and were in a big group which made it an even better time. I went home and called a few of my friends before going to sleep.
This week, I have orientation, and although I would love to go on about how the beginning of my week went, I am going to save it for my next vlog. I have enjoyed my time so far being in Cape Town. I had a lot of anxiety coming into the trip because I was afraid to leave my family for so long and be so far away from them. But the people I have met so far have made me feel a new sense of home. It has only been a few days, but I am so excited for what is to come.