SUMIKO NEARY | CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA | POST 2
Featured image: The beautiful beach that welcomed us to South Africa. Our hostel was only about five minutes walking from here – how incredible!
Hello from Cape Town, South Africa!
Two weeks ago, it was very sad to say goodbye to my Indian homestay family, local faculty, and Delhi. I had finally gotten used to the rhythm of having class, commuting home, and fitting in fun things on the side, when we flew to Cape Town and everything became new again! New faculty, currency, SIM cards, homestays, and surroundings! Surprisingly, all the changes weren’t so overwhelming because our first two days in South Africa were spent just hanging out and getting settled at a beach town near Cape Town. The stress of setting up a new SIM card and getting local currency was easily canceled out by watching the sunrise from our hostel rooftop, going to the beach, and hiking a nearby mountain.
After two weeks here, I’m kind of getting into a rhythm. Unlike in Delhi where all the students were living in families spread across South Delhi, in Cape Town, we all live in the same neighborhood, so each morning we meet up with friends and walk about fifteen minutes to class together. We usually have class until around 5, after which I’ve gone to cafes, gone shopping, and even gone to the beach! There are so many wonderful beaches in Cape Town and I can’t wait to visit them all!
One thing that’s quite different about our time in Delhi versus Cape Town is how easily we are able to access nature. I like to call myself a “city girl” (yes, I’m from NYC), but I’m also loving being able to see the mountains, the beach, and the ocean each day from my homestay balcony! Even when the weather isn’t amazing (which has been rare so far), the mist over the mountains is so beautiful it doesn’t matter!
Speaking of nature, this past weekend some friends and I hiked up Table Mountain! Our journey took around four hours. And while it was strenuous, sweaty, and at times really scary (because of the heights!), it was ultimately incredibly rewarding to be at the top! Luckily, there’s a cable car, so we had a short 3-minute return ride down the mountain – I don’t think I would have had as much fun if I had to hike that whole way down, too. Overall I loved the experience, and I’m already planning my next hike!
Being in country number three of four (US, India, South Africa, Brazil), I can start to make some comparisons across countries. For one, I find that the fashion/style is much more colorful in both Delhi and Cape Town compared to my home of NYC, which I love! On a more serious note, it is interesting to start to understand the different ways in which colonization (in India, by the British, and in South Africa, by the British and the Dutch) have impacted the local culture, history, policy, and health. Our local faculty – some of whom lived many years under Apartheid – have been instrumental in shaping and growing our understanding of the South African/Cape Town cultural context. I can’t believe we only have two weeks left in South Africa – I still have so much to learn!
Aside from class and nature activities, I am also learning a lot about myself on this trip. Being surrounded by people I’ve only known for two months is something I’ve only experienced once before, when I arrived at Vassar, but this semester has the added challenge of constantly traveling, having little independence, and being time zones away from home. I have been using a meditation app and journaling regularly, which have really helped me be at peace amidst what is sometimes a very chaotic-feeling day. I may not always be thriving, but I try to always be learning and growing.
Next month, I’ll be blogging from Brazil. So long!