This past week has been really eventful!! Here’s a breakdown of what happened:
On Tuesday the 29th, the AIFS group went to a beach in Gordon’s Bay (around 30 minutes away from campus) called Bikini Beach. We were pretty much the only people there, and the water was beautiful with all of the rocks surrounding it, but it was so hard to lay out and relax on the sand because of the strong winds. The wind would blow every couple of minutes and whip sand at our backs! We all had sand everywhere. It was a great area, but not the greatest experience.
On Wednesday, 10 of us went to Bikes ‘n Wines, which is pretty much a wine tour where you bike in between the different wineries. We were also touring with a family of three from New Paltz, NY! It was so strange but awesome to see people from home in South Africa. We all thought that the bike ride was going to be leisurely, but I found it pretty difficult. The first half to the first winery (Skilpadvlei) was uphill on pavement and I was struggling, you guys. A few of us were, actually. Fortunately, that was the worst of it. We tasted three wines at the first winery and had a really nice lunch.
My first picture with my flatmates!
The rest of the tour was either flat or downhill (we were riding on thick sand and gravel a lot though). The second winery was called Spiers and we sampled three more wines. (This one was so beautiful and also had a hotel, spa, and restaurant connected to it!). The third destination was a brandy distillery (Van Ryn’s) and we sampled two types—one of them being the finest brandy in the world! Fancy, I know. I also learned that brandy by itself is not one of my favorite things…tasty but strong.
Lastly, we visited Stellenbosch Hills, and quickly sampled three wines (one of them being a sparkling rosé), and Lindsay and I agreed to buy a couple of bottles of the sparkly stuff. Overall, the tour was fun and it was beautiful to see the countryside and different vineyards in Stellenbosch; plus, the bike ride was a full body workout. Luckily, Lindsay, Daniela, and I were able to go to the gym (we got memberships the week before), and took advantage of a yoga class and stretched out.
Thursday was probably my busiest day. My flat basically ran errands—got rugby season tickets, went food shopping, etc.—and then I went to a zumba class at the gym with Daniela. The class was so fun and the instructor seriously gave us a workout. There was also this huge event called Vensters in Afrikaans (“Windows” in English), which is basically where the freshmen at the university group up according to dorm, and they create different skits and choreographies that the people of Stellenbosch attend at nighttime. It was so cool to watch! The streets and bars were packed.
Saturday, I had training for VCE, which is a volunteer community engagement program that is open to all international students. There were over 100 of us, which was a great turnout! After a few ice breakers, we watched a film called Skin, which helped us understand the apartheid in South Africa and the especially the complexity of race here. Along with volunteering, we’re required to make plans for the day and write weekly reflective journal entries (something I’m totally used to as a counseling major). We also have the option of going into two different townships—Lynedoch on Tuesdays or Kayamandi on Fridays. Fridays work best with my schedule and I’m especially excited to work with children ages 4 to 6, because that’s something that I’ve never done before.
Today, the AIFS students went to a concert in Cape Town for a band called Freshlyground. Apparently they’ve performed the Waka Waka song with Shakira! It was an outdoor show and there were so many people there. And, since alcohol was permitted, there was a lot of hilarious drunken dancing, thanks to one woman next to us! Overall, the band was really fun to listen to.
This upcoming week will involve a lot of class-related things. For international students, professors have “first meetings” and give out the syllabus and explain the course to prospectives. Once we’re done with our first meetings for each class, we can create our final schedule and attend those classes regularly. Sometimes I forget that I’m here for school—it’s felt like a vacation so far!
‘Til next time,