So today we had our last “class” day of doing Long Walk to Freedom (LWTF) presentations/discussions as a group. Meaning, the 8 of us students get together in one apartment and we have open discussions about each chapter that one student leads, and today was our last day of that! Yesterday I lead the discussion about chapter 9 of LWTF where Mandela is describing his years on Robben Island. We did that in the morning, and then we went to the actual Robben Island a couple hours later. It was great that we were able to have class about the book, and then go out and experience the book! It just put things into a whole knew perspective. Anywayssss, so we had our last two presentations this morning and then we were free for the rest of the day. I woke up with a sore throat 😦 so I was glad that we didn’t have much of anything planned. My roommates and I worked on our study guide (we have our midterm tomorrow morning) and then we decided to walk to the Waterfront to get some more gigabytes for our internet. We’re starting to get the hang of stuff! Crossing the street has become a little less of a challenge for us 🙂 instead of looking to the left, we have to look to the right. We probably look so American!! But we’re getting used to it. The Waterfront is really cool. I might have talked about it before. But it’s this outdoor and indoor mall right on the boardwalk that is super touristy. We went to the indoor mall part which is huge! People were packed in there. We paid for more internet and then proceeded to “Pick N Pay” which is one of the local supermarkets. I wanted…. no NEEDED to find some instant coffee. Our apartment came with some individual packets of coffee, buuuutt it tasted like butt (haha Ger). I got some of that, and then pretzels for ma hummus! We walked back, did some more grocery shopping at a nicer grocery store really close to our apartment, and now everyone is just kind of chilling. It seems like this is our first real day when we haven’t had anything scheduled and no places to go and everyone is just really tired. The weather has been pretty okay too. It’s been chillier than how it was when we first got here. The seasons are different here than back at home. We should be heading into spring at the end of August. So we’re experiencing kind of the last of the winter weather, but the sun is still warm!
I’m finding that there are lots of things that I’ve taken for granted at home that I expect to be here in South Africa. Not only are the brands of food and other things not what I am used to, but I’m not used to the limited electricity too. We have these heaters that are literally a square pannel on the side of the walls in each room. We’ve been keeping them on because it gets pretty chilly at night. But Dr. Murphy explained that in her room that she hasn’t turned the heaters on once because electricity is so expensive. Heat is definitely something that I am used to. I don’t even think twice about turning the heat or A/C on at home, but here, it’s the custom that if you’re cold, just put on more clothes. In our apartment we say that we’re “roughing it”. Our kitchen isn’t as nice or equipped with everything we’re used to at home, and our bathroom has a hot water tank on the wall. Whenever someone wants to take a shower or use the hot water we have to flip the switch. Having hot water is something I’ve always expected when taking a shower. It took us a while to figure out what is the on and off switch to the water tank. I’ve taken a few freezing cold showers here either because we ran out of hot water, or I didn’t have the switch turned on. Either way it was freezing cold! I’m trying my best to not appear too privileged because we’re Americans. After reading LWTF we were talking about Mandela’s struggle, and his never-ending fight for freedom, and how many people suffered through the worst of conditions. I’ve never really struggled before in my life. I’ve never come from a bad neighborhood, never not had enough money for food, and never experienced half of the things that many other people here and at home have lived through. I pray that my eyes can be opened so that I can better understand the importance of the freedom that Nelson fought to achieve.