Hello from Cape Town!

Part of me can’t believe that I am in South Africa right now.  Part of me is very nervous about surviving here for the next few months.  Part of me is super excited because everyone I have met here are is super nice and I know there are great things ahead.

I still can’t wrap my head around this.  What have I done?!  This is crazy.  I mean, this. is. CRAZY.

Ask me three years ago, and I would have never pictured my life ever taking to South Africa.  And if it ever did, never for this long.

So, what am I doing here?  Briefly, I will be studying abroad in South Africa for their spring semester.  It is currently winter here, and yes, I am shivering as I write this (no central heating — I am a privileged person).  I have had the honor to study at many universities and colleges throughout my lifetime.  It’s quite amusing really: Glendale Community College, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Los Angeles City College, New York University, UC Berkeley, and now I get to add the University of Cape Town (UCT) to that list.

On top of studying, which I hear the academics are really rigorous here (another thing I am worried about), I will be interning at UCT’s Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU).  This internship will hopefully give me insight on what it would look like to be working development research and policy (the kind of work that I am currently seriously looking at).  This internship will also give me something to write about.

So, how was traveling to Cape Town?  One word: exhausting.  I took a 10 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany from Los Angeles.  Then, an 11 hours flight to Johannesburg.  And finally, a 2 hour flight to Cape Town.  The layover time was not too bad, but it became a thirty-three hour trip.  Exhausting.

In Johannesburg, a security guy tried speaking to me in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.  I was really impressed by how many languages he could greet people in, especially South Africans generally know more than one language.  I let it slide that he thought that I was one of those ethnicities; he was really charming.  I told him that I am Vietnamese.  He noted that my accent made it seem that I was not from Vietnam.  I said that he was right.  I was born in America, but my parents are from Vietnam.  And then, I had to go because there were other people behind me.

I arrived at Cape Town International and was picked up by a guy named Kevin.  He was super nice and super accommodating. He made a joke that South Africans drive on the wrong side of the road.  I assured him that it was really the US that drives on the wrong side.  He took me to the hostel, where I am currently staying the night.  As I was getting out of the car, I slipped and he told me to be careful.  He said that it was only my first day and I couldn’t start off my five month stay by falling and getting injured.  He was a funny guy.

The hostel, The Green Elephant Backpackers (great name), is pretty nice.  All the people are very nice.  There’s free Wi-Fi, plus a pool, bar, barbecue, plenty of bathrooms/showers.  There are six people in each room.  I struggled with getting plugged in, but everything is working out so far.

Here’s a picture of inside the hostel:

The hostel is very colorful.
The hostel is very colorful.

Because I am so tired, I haven’t been able to explore Cape Town that much, but I hope to find more opportunities soon.  I will be moving into temporary dorms tomorrow morning, though I wish I could experience this hostel culture a little more.

It is about 22:30 here, and I am finally no longer shivering!  I haven’t really taken a good pictures of Cape Town yet because I don’t particularly enjoy experiencing life through a camera lens.  I can tell you that Cape Town is beautiful.  Kevin said that it would be even more beautiful if it wasn’t cloudy and they weren’t blocking the mountains.  But, it’s very green here and the city is very well kept.  Though, as the true GPP person in me, the townships are definitely very identifiable.  I can only imagine what the living conditions are in the townships.

Well, that’s an update on my first nine hours or so in Cape Town.  So far, very positive experiences, and I must keep that mind for the rest of my trip.

Over and out.

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