African Update

So people make fun of Texas for freaking out when we get snow; however the entire city of Cape Town decided yesterday that it was going to shut down for a rain storm…we have been in a drought and I think people forgot what rain was lol.

But actually, the wind has been insane (predicted to get up to 100km/hour) and we have gotten lots of much needed rain. And I can’t say how nice it is to have a day off school (especially since I had a test today lol.) I can finally get caught up on a few things that I have been needing to do but have just been busy with school and everything else I have been involved with that I haven’t had the chance to. Praise Jesus.

So I thought I would take this as a time to post an update since I have been awful at keep up with this blog.

I celebrated 21 a few weeks ago (TURN UP LOL even though no one cares because 18 is legal everywhere except the USA). The weather has been wonderful even though it “winter” here in Africa. I have been able to go to the beach a bunch and have gone surfing one or two times more. (Maybe I’ll come back a pro lol jk.)

I realized that I had been here 3 months and really had not gone to a museum in Cape Town. So two of the girls I live with and I went to the South African Museum and Planetarium. It was a really fun and good day. We ended up walking all the way through downtown to the Waterfront and treating ourselves to a nicer dinner on the Waterfront.

I have been able to continue volunteering with SHAWCO Health and their clinics in the townships. I have really enjoyed the experiences I have had there observing the medical students go through the learning process of diagnosing patients and talking to them about what Medical School is like in South Africa.

I have also been going to UCT’s club gymnastics practices weekly. It has definitely been the highlights of my weeks so I was really sad that it was cancelled yesterday because of the rain and wind coming. I have been able to get quite a few skills back. I also forgot how much I love gymnastics and how much I love doing basic skills and just being able to flip around and stuff. I really want to make it a priority to try to make it to TCU’s gymnastics practices more when I get back next semester.

I also had the opportunity to stay in Gugulethu with a host family for the weekend. Mama Noks hosted me and my friend Shannon. She welcomed us into her house and we got to play with her grandchild (omg kids have so much energy). We helped her prepare a meal and we had to eat the “African way” – NO SILVERWARE. Try eating pop, spinach and onion, and meat without any silverware. Oh and it has sauce. It was so awkward for me because I am already a person that likes to be clean and hates if anything is on my hands. But I tried to embrace it. We went to church with the rest of the IES students doing the homestays in the township at a local church.

It was interesting and wasn’t the stereotypical “black church” that I thought it would be. The demographics were also interesting. (Africa has made me become so aware of the demographics wherever I go.) There were so many women and not many men. That was something that drew my attention but did not get a chance to ask about.

We went to the famous Mizoli’s afterwards. OMG the meat was so good and it was so much fun. They had a DJ and the atmosphere was just really fun. Though it was interesting because it is probably one of the only places where you will find a pretty mix of black and white people – tourists and locals.

But that pretty much sums up life lately. 2.5 weeks of school left. 3 weeks of finals…then home…it is coming way to fast if you ask me. A month ago it felt like it was never going to end. Now I feel like I am going home tomorrow. So bitter sweet.
BUT THE PARENTALS LEAVE FOR CAPE TOWN TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!! (Don’t think I could express how excited I am 🙂 )

SEE YOU FRIDAY MORNING IN DURBAN MOM AND DAD!!!!

-Kaitlyn

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Safaris and Tubing and Waterfalls

Well it is a few weeks late (lol like a month), but I guess late is better than never. (Plus I want to procrastinate writing this paper.)

We had two parts to our spring break (sorry mid-semester break – I get weird looks when I say Spring Break because it is “winter” here) – Kruger and Victoria Falls.

IES planned our first half of the adventure to Kruger and some fun activities afterwards. Day one we flew into an airport with literally one other plane and immediately got in our Safari cars and headed to the park. We drove through the park and saw tons and tons of Impalas.

***FUN FACT: Impalas have an interesting social structure that is similar to many of the other animals in this region. When you see a herd of impalas, there will almost always be one male and lots and lots of females. Then you go a little ways out from the herd you are likely to find a bunch of males chilling probably wishing they were that male with all the females around them. We liked to call these males the bachelor squad.

There were so many impalas we quickly stopped stopping to take pictures of them. We ate lunch at a restaurant in the middle of the park. Apparently, a monkey was quite hungry too and snagged someone’s sandwich from right in front of them. Oh nature…

We spent the rest of the day driving around. Oh and our guide even stopped once inside the park to let us get out and “bush pee”. I don’t know how smart that was considering how hard at times it was to see the animals just a few feet from the dirt roads we were on, but we survived. We saw lots and lots of elephants, Kudu (large antelope), giraffes, other small deer. We headed back to our camp on the edge of Kruger National Park for the night.

The next morning we left at 5:30 to start the game drive. Apparently the most happens at sunrise…so here we go. And who would have guess that they were right!

Within the first hour we pull up to a waterhole and we notice a bunch of waterbuck (medium sized antelope-deer things) running around. Then we see what they are running from – a pack of wild dogs – MAYBE 10-15!!! (Wild dogs are one of the rarest species to see in the park as in the entire park there are only about 300. And during both days we were in the park we say maybe 5% of the park.)

So the wild dogs were hunting the waterbucks and trying to separate the babies from their parents so that they could pounce on it and have a meal. However, the males kept trying to distract the wild dogs and lead them in the opposite direction. We were watching this whole scene take place for about 5 minutes before the waterbuck decided to go for a swim to cross the river and give themselves a small break from the wild dogs. That’s when we noticed a large croc on the opposite side of the pond probably about 200 feet away. He also noticed that they had just swam across the water and decided that he would try to take advantage of the next chance to cash in maybe.

So we continued to watch the wild dogs chase the waterbucks around and almost get one before it jumps into the water and slips the grip of the wild dog. As they swim across again, the hippos start to bump them with their heads. (this is a terrible word to describe it though cause the waterbucks went flying three or so feet up and forward.) Hippos are incredibly territorial and the only reason they kill other animals is if they are in their territory or near their young because they are herbivores.

The croc is slowly coming and closer…

The scene plays out for another 5 or so minutes…that’s when we see it…the waterbucks are a few feet in the water and they don’t see the croc about 30 feet away that just disappeared under the surface…

It is silent as everyone stares intensely in the direction of the three unaware waterbucks in the water. You can feel the excitement/nerviousness/worriedness for what is going to happen next. Then it happens…two little screams, and there are only two waterbucks left running out of the water.

As sad as it was to see an animal get eaten, wow nature! That is what National Geographic goes on assignments to find and waits weeks to see and we saw it within an hour of being in the park that day.

The rest of the day we spend driving around. So Africa has the “Big Five” (the five most dangerous to hunt) that everyone tries to spot on safaris – Lions, Rhinos, Leopards, Elephants, and the Buffalo. We were lucky enough to see all but a lion in Kruger. We saw the leopard literally one minute from the exit to the park (which is super close to where we stayed the night). Though it was amazing, leopards don’t look like they would be hard to spot in the yellow-green grass, but we had two cars of about 20 people watching this leopard as it stepped off the dirt path into the grass and within 3 seconds everyone lost it.

I think what took me by surprise the most was how green and not flat Savannah all of it was. There were so many different types of geographies in this park. All I felt like I have ever seen on TV is the flat, long yellow grass blowing in the wind with a lions creeping through it. But man the safari was awesome and it would be so awesome to be able to come back and do a larger portion of the park since we saw such a small little bit of the park.

 

The next day we headed more toward Joburg. Our adventure for the day was tubing on the river. How relaxing right? We can all just sit there and chill and enjoy each other’s company.

WRONG.

One thing I have learned in Africa is that Africa always undersells its activities – it is just a small walk along the beach means “you will be climbing over boulders and jumping in between rocks”. It is only a two hour hike that isn’t too bad means “prepare for it to take 3-4 hours and for it to be straight uphill”. So why did I think tubing on a river would be so relaxing? I don’t know.

So we get to the river and we are handed helmets and instructed how to “tube” and told that the guides will be positioned in front of us and behind us to help us out and throw us a rope if we need rescuing … Ummm excuse me RESCUING?????

IT WAS FREAKING WHITE WATER RAFTING IN A SMALL INDIVIDUAL TUBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In the end it was fun, but omg I can’t say how scary it was at point when you fell out and went down rapids without your tube. We all came back with bruises from hitting rocks. It was fun in the end but no one was mentally prepared for that.
For the second half of Spring Break we went to Victoria Falls.

THE FALLS ARE BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING!!!! The spray off the falls was so much! You could be so far away and it would be lightly drizzling from the falls. And then when we were on the path across from the falls it was a full on rain storm! It was crazy! This time of the year is high water and I would love to have the opportunity to go back during low tide.

While at the falls we did a sunset cruise – which was absolutely amazing! We saw elephants playing in the river and the sunset was breath taking!!!! We did a helicopter ride over the falls which was crazy cool! We did a gorge swing over the river after the falls which was terrifyingly awesome! (Uploaded a video to facebook for anyone who wants to see.) We went to Botswana to do another Safari in Chobe – AND WE SAW OUR LION SO WE SAW ALL OF THE BIG FIVE! We saw an elephant swimming across the river to Namibia. We saw a giraffe licking the ground and then stand awkwardly as it stood up and got dizzy (lol I have a great picture of that- the featured image for this post, though I know it is kind of hard to see). And we walked over the historic bridge to Zambia for another passport stamp.

But spring break was amazing and such a great adventure. I can’t believe it has been a month since then…Time is flying by way too fast.

 

-Kaitlyn

 

 

The Halfway Hump

I can’t believe it – I have officially passed the halfway mark of my study abroad. I have been living in Africa for over 70 days. On one hand, it feels like I have been living here forever. On the other, it feels like I just left America yesterday. I remember in January feeling like leaving for Cape Town was never going to come. Somehow, now I am halfway through my adventure here – which is exciting and scary at the same time.

These past 70-something days have been incredible experience. I have had so many opportunities to do so many incredible things and check off so many things on my bucket list. I have had the opportunity to learn so much about myself and the world around me.

When I arrived here, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I thought “yea, it will be new and exciting. I will be uncomfortable. School can’t be that hard – we are studying abroad” but I didn’t completely understand what lied ahead of me.

I can easily say that this is the most uncomfortable I have ever been in my life. I am a total comfort zone person, and I am not afraid to admit it. I like what is comfortable and to challenge myself here and there, but moving to another country for five months is definitely the craziest thing I have ever done.

I moved 9000 miles away from home. 7 time zones from my parents. I took classes all outside my normal realm of science and pre-med. I engaged myself with people that think completely different than me. I put myself on a campus with 30,000 other people where I did not know a soul. I challenged myself physically and mentally.

So I thought I would just reflect on some of the things I have learned so far.

 

6 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF

1. I HAVE LEARNED HOW TO LIVE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY

This might sound like a well duhh. But there are so many things you don’t think about that you have to adjust to when you move to a foreign country. I was lucky that language was not one (though there are a lot of local languages spoken here so sometimes it feels like no one speaks English). I had to learn the lay of the land. I had to figure out local transportation. I became more aware of the politics and history of South Africa and Africa in general. I had to learn how to completely live an independent life. There were no parents to call when something went wrong. No parents to cook me dinner if I didn’t want to one night. No parents to keep up with what was going on in my life. I am on my own here and that was one of the hardest things I had to learn here from the beginning. I did not have the comfort of my familiar friends or even just familiar faces. (Refer to earlier blog from March).

 

2. I HAVE DISCOVERED HOW MUCH I LOVE THE WORLD

Sunsets, hikes up mountains, oceans, starry nights…You name it. I did not realize how much I love being outside and enjoying the great outdoors. AND I get to enjoy a spectacular view of the city of Cape Town and the mountains behind every day as I walk across campus. It never gets old. One of my favorite things to do this semester is to sit on the Jammie steps between classes and just take in the view. There is just something freeing about being outside in such a beautiful world.  That is one thing that Fort Worth does not have enough of and what it does have, I don’t think I take advantage of enough. I also have enjoyed the many adventures we have taken where we have ended up in slightly questionable

 

3. I FREAKING LOVE SCIENCE

I mentioned that I was taking classes outside my normal science realm. The only thing that is close to what I am used to taking is my Physics class. My other classes are Empires and Modernity, Medical Anthropology (I know sounds cool right), and African Instruments. First let me mention, that we are only allowed to take one first-year course, which happens to be my physics class- yay. Then the rest are at least second year courses and that means the people in these classes are majors in these areas…. So history right – how hard could it be? DIFFICULT. I quickly learned that lectures are only relevant to our assignments for less than 2 minutes out of the 45 minute lecture. Then don’t even get me started on the format of writing papers here. Learning to write an essay in what I like to call “The Nonsense South African Way” took way longer than it should have. Feedback on what you did wrong on assignments hardly exists. AND to make matters even better As are nearly impossible to get here. People are completely shocked if they hear a grade above an 80. (The African A is 75+ which sounds a lot easier than it actually is.)  Yea, and I’ve also confirmed that I do not have a musical bone in my body…and my music teacher loves to point it out and make fun of me in class for it.

 

4. I HAVE LEARNED WHAT IT IS LIKE TO HAVE FREE TIME

One thing that I love and hate about TCU is how freaking involved everyone is. Everyone’s resumes go on for pages with all the organizations and amazing things they do. I have always struggled with the thoughts “am I doing enough? will doing all these things get me into Med school or do I need to do more?” I literally have like zero free time between school, research, work, KLIFE, gymnastics, and whatever else I find myself involved in that semester. This semester most of those things got taken away from me. Homework is writing essays so I don’t have as much tedious, time consuming work like back home. I don’t have research, work, or KLIFE to take up my time. For once, I am able to come home, take a nap if I want or enjoy hanging out with people without feeling like it will cost me my precious few hours of sleep. I have time to journal and listen and catch up on podcasts I have wanted to listen to. I don’t have to be stresses all the time and I don’t have to be doing things all the time. And it is really nice.

 

5. I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT TACOS AND LEMONADE

Wherever I live in the future there better be good tacos and lemonade. Sprite is South Africa’s excuse for lemonade and it just does not cut it. (I cannot tell you how excited I was when I opened a box from my parents that I thought only contained gymnastics grips and socks and I found a bunch of crystal light lemonade packets!!!!!) Everyone in my house knows my obsession with lemonade because at anything that slightly resembles lemonade back home I will order every time. Then there is the taco situation…Mexican food just isn’t good here…I need some Fuzzy’s or Torchy’s ASAP.

 

6. I HAVE LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT LETTING AN OPPORTUNITY SLIP BY

One reason I love that I picked Cape Town for my study abroad is that there are so many things to do here – so many opportunities to make memories. There are cute markets all over town, mountains to climb, beaches to relax on, hikes to hike, museums to explore, new parts of town to visit… There is always something new. I have done my best to not say no to many things and to participate in as many activities as possible. I don’t know when I will be in Africa again so I have to take advantage of the opportunities. I have also had this philosophy with other parts of my time here. I have been involved volunteering with a health clinic (SHAWCO) every week, practicing gymnastics with other UCT students, using connections to meet with Medical Students at UCT and attend their lectures. (I know what a nerdy thing to attend lectures that you aren’t even required to be at…but that is how much I miss my science classes.) I have taken classes way out of my realm (whether I meant to or not is another story, but not important) that have allowed me to engage in conversations with people who think very differently than me…very differently. These opportunities have opened my mind to many new ideas and thoughts, some of which I have never even thought and probably would not have considered ever if I hadn’t gone to Africa.

 

It has been an amazing learning experience. These experiences and the time I have had to reflect on just life in general. This experience has been more than I could have wished for from a study abroad and I still have 10 weeks left 🙂

 

-Kaitlyn

 

(spring break blog will be posted soon)

 

The Bucket List that Never Ends

One of the first things I heard when I arrived in Cape Town is that while we are here we will continue to check things off on our bucket lists, but South Africa will keep adding to our bucket lists things we never thought of before.

I can’t even tell you how true that statement is. I have been checking things off right and left and I keep finding more to add to it.

I have had the opportunity to do some many incredible things these past three weeks and make so many incredible memories. (Don’t worry mom and dad, I haven’t skipped a class yet.) It has been truly amazing and I’m loving every minute of being here. And time is flying by so fast!!! It scares me how soon July will be here!!! I have so many things to still check off my bucket list before I leave!!!

 

So I thought I’d just give a quick update of some of the highlights from the past three weeks and many bucket list checks-

March 25th

We went to Cape of Good Hope and it was so beautiful. We got to hike around the point and the old lighthouse. I just can’t get enough of the beautiful South African landscape and the views of the ocean. Fort Worth could really use some mountains and oceans. We had some close encounters with some baboons but TIA… (This is Africa).  But the Cape of Good Hope was on my bucket list so there’s another check!

 

March 26th

We went shark cage diving – AND IT WAS INCREDIBLE! THOSE GREAT WHITES ARE GINORMOUS!!! What a beast of an animal! Another check!

 

April 1st

Two of my housemates and I took on the huge task of completing the Three Peak Challenge – climbing the three most popular peaks in Cape Town in one day. We started at 4am and finished the last one at 4pm. 12 HOURS OF HIKING. But man were the views incredible, and it was such a rewarding experience to know that you hiked 22 miles, 50,000 steps in 12 hours. And I even have a battle scar to show from it haha. This was probably the biggest bucket list check because I really didn’t know if I was in shape to really do this, but here I am 🙂

 

April 8th

I got the chance to go to my first Rugby game! Stormers (Cape Town’s team) vs the Chiefs! Within the first minute of the game there was a fight right in front of us – how lucky can we get haha. But it was so much fun to experience Rugby – it really gives football a run for its money. If it was more popular in the state, I might become more of a rugby fan than football fan… another check!

 

April 10th

I had the opportunity to start volunteering with SHAWCO Health. A campus organization (mainly run by the med school campus) that sets up volunteer clinics in townships around Cape Town. This was one of the coolest experiences I have had thus far. I sat and talked with one of the patients for like half an hour while we were packing up the clinic and it was just so incredible to hear her story and about her life and her faithfulness to the Lord. Definitely a highlight of my week.

 

April 14th

Kloofing and repelling! Kloofing? what is that you might ask – well it is just the South African term for cliff jumping. A small group of us went hiking, repelling, and kloofing in Kamikaze Kanyon. Once again, I am just going to brag on how beautiful South Africa is. I can’t get enough. But another check on the bucket list!

 

April 16th

Sunset picnic on Signal Hill. This was definitely one of my favorite nights here in Cape Town. We sat on the hill and watched one of the most gorgeous sunsets on Easter and ate a picnic together. We laughed, told stories, and enjoyed each others company for hours under the stars. Just looking up in amazement of how amazingly beautiful all of creation is. One of the best nights.

 

April 17th

SAND BOARDING!!! I have never had more sand in so many places! But OMG it was so much fun! I am not anything spectacular at sand boarding but I survived and even went down the largest sand dune they have! (Might or might not have been very graceful and had a fall or two…..) But another check!!

 

 

The amount of checks on my bucket list is incredible – go to South Africa, ride an elephant, ride an ostrich, climb Table Mountain (one of the natural wonders of the world), go shark cage diving, go to Cape Point, see the penguins, complete the Three Peak Challenge, go surfing, kloof, go to a rugby game, and go sand boarding. I have always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument also – so I’m in African instruments learning to play three different instruments this semester. The checks keep coming and we still have 3 months until we leave.

(I’ll try to upload some pictures with the next post – African wifi is just very unpredictable.)

 

I’ll try to not have too much fun 🙂

-Kaitlyn

Mom, I promise I am still alive

What the heck am I doing???

This phrased was said a few too many times in the past few days. (Mom you might want to stop reading here and save yourself from a few mini heart-attacks. I’m alive and well and in one piece I promise.)

So, Friday after class, 3 of the people I live with and I got the brilliant idea to climb the last of the three major peaks in Cape Town – Devil’s Peak *duh duh dunnnnn*!!!!! Devil’s Peak is only the longest and most difficult of the three mountains. Our RA told us that it should take about 4-5 hours to do. So totally, doable and we will be home in time for dinner.

We decided to start the hike right outside our front door step and walked up the hill to the Rhodes Memorial above campus. From the memorial, we had the challenge of trying to find the trail up the mountain. We took a trail that seemed to line up with the map and veered off to the left.

That’s when we discovered the most terrifying bug I have ever encountered. It was a grasshopper like bug that was about 5 inches big. Its legs were bright red and the thorax of the grasshopper like creature was yellow and black stripped. But you know intelligent college boys thought it would be fun to mess with it for a little bit. (Later, we found out it was poisonous but thankfully not from trial and error.) I’ve been trying to google it to see what it is called but unfortunately grasshopper with red legs and yellow thorax isn’t being super successful.

We continued to walk and took a small path that looked like it started leading us uphill. We quickly found ourselves scratched up by thorny bushes and trees as the trail path got thinner and thinner. But we couldn’t return without getting to the top, so we pushed on. Anyone that knows me  knows I’m allergic to like everything. My legs were quickly covered with red bumps and itched like crazy. I was just praying it wasn’t poison ivy or some random poisonous African plant that was going to kill me. (Good news it wasn’t any of that and I am still alive to write this post.)  After twenty minutes, a bunch of cuts later, and seemingly no progress we abandoned ship. We decided to walk back to the Rhodes Memorial and start over and find a new path because this doesn’t seem to be working for us at all.

(It’s been two hours…we should be almost to the top by now….)

We walk back and right there in front of us is a nicely stone staired path…wow…how did we miss that…

So we start the trek up the mountain. We quickly happen upon a small waterfall back in along the side of the mountain and climb over some small boulders to get to it. The area was surrounded with just jaw-droppingly tall trees. They had to have been growing for 100s of years they were so incredibly tall. These trees, with the beautiful rocky cliff side and the small vegetation just made the area absolutely beautiful. We chilled there for a short time before we continued our hike.

So our RA also told us about a path up the mountain that “doesn’t look like a path, but a bunch of rocks that you can climb up.” So we find this “not a trail” trail and we literally started free rock climbing up this up this mountain…probably not our smartest idea of the day. There I am hanging on to the side of a 5ft wall wondering how in the world am I suppose to move up this wall anymore cause my arms just aren’t that long. I stand along a wall holding on for my life with the rocky/uneven ground a few feet below me before a nothing small cliff side just hoping that I don’t fall backwards and I just keeping thinking about how I would like to see my bed tonight.

We get up halfway and decide that this is a bad idea as we had to help lift each other up to the next level multiple times. So we begin to try to lower ourselves down the cliff. We are trying to carefully help each other out and guide their feet to the minute indentations in the sides of the rock. It ends up being much more of a task than we suspected. That is when we really realized how bad of an idea this was. Thankfully, we get back to the bath with just a few scrapes and bruises and start the climb, but following the actual path.

 

Even following the path, the climb feels like forever. It is such a mind game – you keep feeling like you see the top and then 5 minutes later the top still looks just as far away. I was so exhausted and starting to get hungry and it is very mentally and physically taxing. But you have to just be determined to push through the pain cause you can’t come back without saying you reached the top.

Finally, we reach the top – 5 HOURS LATER (the whole trip should have taken 4-5 hours!!!!) As you get closer to the top, the winds started to pick up. When you got to the top, it was literally like a hurricane up there. The winds had to be going about 50mph and I was holding on to a rock so that I wouldn’t blow off the side of the mountain after this heck of a hike. At this point, the wind has frozen and numbed my hands to the point where it sends a stinging feeling through my hands and arms each time I touch something. This can’t be good, and I am so ready to get off this mountain.

After long enough on top, we decide to go down the trail on the other side of the mountain because it should be a shorter path to the road and then we can uber home. As I climb down, the sun starts to set so we start to rush so we aren’t left on the side of the mountain at night. (The picture is from the hike down and kind of shows how dark it was, but a gorgeous sunset.) My numbness in my arms and hands feels like needles poking me each time I touch something to lower myself down. Plus, I’m hangry so I am so ready to get off this mountain.

We get to a point where we are about 20 ft above the road and we see a small little path that looks like it goes directly down to the road – so naturally, we follow it. Though we end up sliding on our butts to the bottom. We are surprised when we reach the bottom that it ends with a ton of rocks covering the path. Mini-avalanche maybe???

We watch the beautiful sunset as we wait for our uber to come and pick us up – huddled together like penguins trying not to freeze. Our uber cancels on us. Another uber cancels on us…It has now been 30 minutes and we haven’t even seen one car on this road. It is freezing and we are hungry and now we have been gone for over 7 hours.

We decide to start walking down the road toward the cable car for Table Mountain – this had to be about a 4 to 5 mile walk. We had lost our phone service and we knew from our previous hike up Table Mountain that we had service there.

I don’t realize there was a curb between us and the road and fell and rolled my ankle pretty badly. Great, I can make it up and down this mountain but give me a curb and I can’t walk over that. I hobble down the road trying to ignore the pain, hunger, and the bitter wind that has picked up and making my arms and whole body numb.

I AM SO READY TO BE HOME.

As we walk, the road is covered with plants growing through the cracks of the road. And not just small plants but like 2-4 foot plants. It literally looks like no one has driven this road in a long while. Then we come across multiple mini avalanches that cover over half the road. Oh so what if the road is closed due to avalanches????? This can’t be good…

I mentally prepare to be stuck for another few hours as we make the cold, slow walk to the cable car in hope that we can get an uber from there. You may think this sounds dramatic, but all four of us were doing the same thing. The walk to town was far and we were so cold, and who knew when we would have service again TIA.

OMG headlights! OMG a car is coming down the road. The boys take off toward the car in hopes of flagging it down. Then I see the red tail-lights. And my heart drops. Our hope of warmth is quickly crushed. The boys start joking around about what we would do if we saw a creepy nun or something else straight out of a scary movie but the setting was perfect – 4 college kids walking down a dark road at night, freezing, the clouds lingering low over Table Mountain…

Next thing I know, I see outlines about 20 feet of us of what looks like people. It looks like they have sheets draped over them and that there are about 20 of them. The next thing I hear is “you may approach”.

AND THIS IS HOW WE MEET OUR DEATH IN SOUTH AFRICA

Sorry mom for the phone call you will receive tomorrow that your daughter is missing and hopefully will be found. I don’t think I have ever been more scared in my life.

Well we find out it was a group of hikers (that had blankets wrapped around them – lol we are all in shorts and tshirts and this group is in blankets and sweatshirts and pants and they were cold). Apparently, they are going to hike up the mountain at night???? IDK I was just glad that I was going to live to see the next day, well hopefully – if we ever find cell service or survive the 5 mile walk from once we get to the cable car to town.

 

We continue to walk…it has been an hour…spirits are real low…like real low…i’m hangry….need a bathroom…limping on my hurt ankle…still on edge from our previous encounter…preparing to spend the night on the side of a mountain…

 

We get to a sign and it says road closed for avalanches- yup, our suspicions were right – glad we decided not to wait for an uber cause there was no uber coming our direction anytime soon.

We walk over the chain chainning off the road and OMG A CAR was coming our way. It pulls up next to us and says “Nico?”  (one of the guys with us is named Nico)

OMG!!!! WHAT???? HOW DOES THIS CAR KNOW OUR NAME?!?!

“Uber for Nico.”

OMG ITS OUR UBER!!!! HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS UBER FIND US!!!! Nothing could have made any of us happier at this point. Warmth, bathrooms, food, and anything else we wanted was in sight.

I couldn’t tell you how happy I was to crawl in bed that night.

 

So Saturday, we went out to Cape of Good Hope.

We were walking around this small building with a courtyard when someone screamed. We all turned our attention toward the far end of the building where one of the guys on our program was running out of the bathroom and everyone else was backing up from the area he was coming from. I try to get a peak of what all the commotion is about and then i see it….

THERE IS A BABOON IN THE BATHROOM!!! I REPEAT A BABOON IN THE BATHROOM!!!! WAIT NO, CORRECTION – THERE ARE TWO BABOONS IN THE BATHROOM. TWO BABOONS IN THE BATHROOM ABOUT 15 FEET FROM ME!

The baboons make a move toward me and some other people and we all scatter in all directions. For the next 10 minutes, we are doing the best we can to avoid this baboon from coming toward us and get him out of this place. But the baboon just keeps running around and toward people. Baboons are just mean looking monkeys and I want nothing to do with them. Eventually, the baboons decide that this place is no longer exciting and leaving. And I couldn’t be happier that this adrenaline rush is over and we can go enjoy the peninsula.

 

And Sunday, our group went shark cage diving. I told myself I was not going to do this, but there I was on the boat in a wet suit about to get into the cage. What the heck am I doing? And the next thing I know, the dive master is yelling “DOWN DOWN DOWN!!!!”

So I got under water and there it is the GREAT WHITE AND IT IS HEADED STRAIGHT FOR ME. (I was the lucky soul on the end of the cage right by the crew member in charge of the bate on a rope so the sharks always came my way.) It could not have been more than a meter and OMG IT WAS GINORMOUS AND IT WAS COMING RIGHT FOR ME WITH ITS MOUTH OPEN! Like they look big when looking at them out of the boat but to be in the water with them OMMGGG THEY ARE HUGE GNARWLY CREATURES. Thankfully, some steel bars saved my life and I am still here on earth 🙂

So I’ve had an adventurous last few days. I am just glad to have returned to my bed safely each night. But days like these make the best memories and great stories to tell 🙂

But all is well and South Africa could not be any more amazing 🙂

-Kaitlyn

 

Sweet Friends

Only I would have to be in South Africa to see my best friend from high school…

Ellie is in the midst of an amazing year adventure of around the world serving. I was so excited that she made some time to spend with me in Cape Town this past week. Last Sunday, we watched the sunset from Signal Hill and got to catch up on life with each other since its been SIX MONTHS!

I had class all Monday, but a public holiday Tuesday. So Tuesday we set out to see the penguins on boulder beach. OMG they are so cute but vicious. They kept peaking at our cameras and us if we got too close- which is understandable. I would be annoyed too if I kept having cameras stuck in my face.

Then we headed to Muizenberg Beach and surfed! I really didn’t think I was going to enjoy surfing that much- but OMG I had so much fun and can’t wait to go back now!

Texas you need some nice beaches with surfing and mountains and hiking or I think I’ll be out of there pretty soon.

But, it was such a refreshing time to be in her company and meet some of the amazing also on this adventure with her. They are doing great things for God’s Kingdom and can’t wait to hear about the rest of her adventures in September when she finally returns to the States.

-Kaitlyn

Overwhelmed.

There is no better word to describe my week, but overwhelmed. I don’t know what I expected for my first week of school at UCT, but it was not this.

Starting at UCT, is like being a freshman again – but worse. I rode the bus to campus on Monday excited to finally be going back to school and get to meet people in my classes. My first class was at the opposite side of campus from where the bus stopped which I had no problem with because I thought it would be nice to have the chance to walk campus first thing and experience the full place. I stepped off the bus at upper campus, and my feelings of excitement quickly faded. It took me all of 2 seconds to realize this was not TCU. UCT is at least 3x as big as TCU so when I stepped off the bus I was greeted with herds of students. It felt like New Year’s Eve in Times Square – people moving in every direction, people becoming human roadblocks as they greet each other after the long summer break, people pouring out of buildings after class…

It really did not hit me until this moment, what it meant to go to a school 3x as big as what I am used to. People everywhere. I pushed my way through the crowds and made it to my first class: Empires and Modernities. The professor greets the class, “Welcome history majors, or at least until the end of the year…” Shoot what did I just sign up for? It can’t be that hard right? It is just history. I just have to memorize every fact, and I’ll be good. The class goes on, and I realize that the professor starts his lecture assuming we have an extensive knowledge of South African History – well duh they grew up here, but uhh I can’t remember the last time I saw the option to learn about South African history, so I’m screwed. I go through the syllabus and I see that I have to write 10 papers for this class…what is school… Class one concludes and I’m already so panicked fort he rest of the semester. All I can think is about how much extra work this class is going to be.

But, I have to get to physics…which is over by the bus stop…

I once again feel like a salmon swimming upstream. I swear I pass more people than TCU’s entire population on my way to class. If I wasn’t already overwhelmed and anxious enough, this definitely didn’t help. Frazzled, I get to physics late and rush to a seat. Science, I can do this.

I get home after class, and the overwhelming feeling returns. My service learning class is going to be cancelled because not enough people signed up for the class. This is one of the reasons I picked this program in Cape Town. I can’t even describe how frustrated I was at this point. I couldn’t just drop this class, but I needed to find another class that worked with my schedule and that I didn’t think was also going to kill me.

Tuesday comes. I walk through the thousands of people to history, which once again, I’m scribbling notes of things to look up later. Scramble back to the other side of campus to physics. Then I have an hour before my next class. I walk back to their equivalent of The Commons or the BLUU – Jammie Stairs. There are tons of people sitting there enjoying the weather, the company of others, and lunch. This is the first time that it really soaked in that I was alone. I know a total of 18 other people on this campus of more than 28,000 people. Where were all the familiar faces that I was used to at TCU? I realized I couldn’t walk around and find someone I know to hang out with. I can’t walk through the library and find someone to hang out with. I can’t text my friend and have them meet me for lunch.

I am alone.

This is when it hit that it sucks. I thought it would be more like freshman year – everything new and exciting and you are so lost and confused about what is going on. But as a freshman, you are surrounded by people going through the same thing and your friend group is likely established by your dorm. But, I don’t have this dorm experience and the people around me in classes are second year and up and already have their friends and saving seats in the class for their friends. On top of this, after going through 2.5 years of college, you no longer have the invincible attitude that you can conquer any class, and when people say a class is hard or if you don’t do this you will fail, you take it much more seriously.

I sat on the stairs and just took it all in. I’m so used to being in a routine of knowing people and having a friend group already established. I sat on the stairs and just took it all in. I missed home. I missed my friends. I missed familiar and comfortable. But, this is experience will be what I make it. I will get to know people, it just takes time.

I went to my anthropology class next. Here came the overwhelming and anxious feelings. We spent all class talking about theories and philosophical things and man those just aren’t my forte. I think like a science person not like all these anthropology majors. I left so overwhelmed for this entire semester.

Since then, I have continued to freak out about classes multiple times everyday. Should I take _____ instead and drop ______?  How in the world am I going to get all this done? How am I going to survive? How am I going to be able to experience everything South Africa has to offer with all the school? And I also learned that the classes have “Tuts” (tutorials), so even more time I have to spend in class each week.

Shout out to my mom who has listened to quite a few panicked about life phone calls this week. You’ve been a lifesaver.

I wish I could say that I am no longer overwhelmed, but the rest of the semester still has me stressed out with finding a balance between school and experiencing all that Cape Town and South Africa has to offer. The hardest part is just how differently class time is organized and how grades are calculated. The homework is different and almost only readings, and I’ve been told by multiple people that if you don’t keep up with the reading you will fail…. (Yes, I am writing this blog to avoid all the readings I am a week behind doing opps.) I did find a fun class to replace my service learning class – African Instruments. I don’t have a musical bone in my body so we will see how this goes, but all international students take it so how hard could it be?

 

So I’ve been all over the place this week. But a few highlights from this week to say that yea i am having a great time despite the stress and anxiety of school –

Saturday: I climbed Table Mountain (a natural wonder of the world)

Sunday: I got to visit a church and absolutely loved it!

Tuesday: I climbed Lion’s Head (another popular mountain in Cape Town) for sunrise before class. I also went to the church’s College mid-week ministry which was really awesome.

Thursday: I ventured down to the Waterfront and walked around with a friend for a while.

 

I am looking forward to meeting people through the clubs I have joined – hiking, gymnastics – and in my classes. I am really excited that I got the chance to get involved with the community and volunteer with SHAWCO Health and get involved at the church, Common Ground Church, that will be my home for the next four months.

And I have some exciting things to look forward to this next week – shark cage diving, a church retreat, and ELLIE IS COMING TO CAPE TOWN!!!!!!!

Hope I survive to update on my adventures 🙂

-Kaitlyn