To say that living in Stellenbosch (or my homestay in Stellenbosch) was a dream wouldn’t be fair given that I feel that my semester in South Africa has been a dream in itself, but it essentially was. We lived on security-guarded golf course, surrounded by mountain views and vineyards. I had no neighbors but the energizing company of my siblings took care of that “loneliness”. Anytime I needed wifi, I would make my way over to the clubhouse and sit down, get a drink and do some work. It was quite odd to think that this was my life for a week but it was. This was also the first homestay where my host family would take me out to dinner and lunch. We enjoyed a variety of food and I particularly enjoyed watching my little siblings devour salmon roses during this outings. However, my favorite meals where the nights where my parents would brie and I would watch them do it while I had a glass of wine. This is also where most of the conversation occurred with my parents and how I got to know more about them and their family. I had found out that my host father was the son of the director of marketing for South African Airways for 41 years. He has had the opportunity to travel the world since he was a young boy and has a very open-minded view about people and the world, and are raising his children with these values. These conversations definitely broke down my misconceptions about the Afrikaners of South Africa. It was quite sad to leave my homestay and all of the wine that came with it but I was excited to move on with my semester.
I moved into Bo-Kaap right after Stellbosch the historically colored and Muslim community located right in the heart of Cape Town. If you ever seen pictures of Cape Town; Bo-Kaap is the part of the city that is bright and colorful because of all the painted houses. I lived with an older couple with no children, which was wonderful because my roommate and I got all the attention and love. I also ate eating delicious curry and expanded my knowledge of the cape coloreds in Cape Town in addition to the religion of Islam. I volunteered with my Ma at a religious march/parade. And to my surprise, I went to visit my first mosque and it was the first mosque ever built in the Southern Hemisphere!
The colored community in Bo-Kaap speaks Afrikaans and has a different way of life from the isiXhosa people of South Africa. As a result of apartheid, there is on going identity struggle that is very unique of the cape coloreds of South Africa that often deal with a “Not Black Enough, Not White Enough” ideology. It is a very confusing concept to understand, being a foreigner but a very interesting one nonetheless. To constantly hear constant expressions of oppression, in a post apartheid South African was in some cases shocking because I simply did not know how to respond. It made me realize the power and legacy authority has on how people view themselves in society and how they view other people in the world. It was with this realization, I was glad to have chosen South Africa and SIT for my fall semester abroad because I wouldn’t have never been able to experience this trauma.
For the last two weeks, I have been living independently with three other girls from my program in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. It has been interesting experience to be “on my own” in a different country and while it took a while for my research to start, I am happy with my topic. Stay Tuned to find out what I am doing, and I promise to suck less at posting!