Well, we are into the 2nd full-day of our trip. Technically, we have been on this study tour for four days, but the first two days were basically traveling and flying into South Africa. A colleague of mine and I are leading a group of 12 students on a study tour of South Africa, where we are interesting in questions concerning how South Africa has dealt with its past, while trying to build and sustain a democracy. We call the trip: History, Memory, and Democracy in South Africa. My partner in crime is a historian who specializes in South Africa. She is fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague to help us out with this.
We also have another colleague who just wanted to go on the trip and she has been a great help with students.
Our basic itinerary is we are spending 6 days in Durban, South Africa, two days in a game reserve for the students, and then the final six days in Cape Town.
Students just started with their home stay families for the next few nights so we will see how that goes for them, while we are staying in a little different part of the city.
Observations so far:
- Some of my students didn’t bring with them debit cards and/or they didn’t contact their banks. So we have had a couple of students who had little to no cash. We have basically given them some of our currency in exchange for their American dollars. An important lesson for all those who study abroad or travel: BRING ATM CARDS AND/OR ALERT YOUR BANKS OF YOUR TRAVEL!
- Before we left I sent out a bunch of travel tips to students (including the one above) but one thing I have learned is that I would’ve recommended that students buy a international data package and/or get a cheap South Africa phone. The students are in homestays that don’t have WiFi and so because they are so connected I think they might feel a little isolated. If we do this again, I am going to recommend all students buy WiFi
- The people of South Africa are fabulously nice. The hospitality has been fantastic.
- I am learning a little Zulu, but it is hard for me…even though I speak another language.
- We have met some really interesting characters here talking about the conflicts over race and politics. I am loving these conversations. Today, we had two lectures from some prominent intellectuals about the struggle of apartheid and the current political situation. It should get even better.
- I love these students. It has been only two days, but you can already see that they are coming together as a group, which is a GREAT sign of success. They seem to be really liking each other.
- South Africans eat a LOT of meat. If you come to South Africa go to Nando’s and have chicken with peri-peri sauce. It is great and has some kick to it.
- The food and beer are relatively cheap, but water is expensive in bottles. And you can drink the water there is no problem with the tap water.
- The disparities between rich and poor can be very stark in some parts of Durban. It is fascinating to see the progress that has been made and the much larger lengths in the future.
I am sure I have more observations, but I am tired and am going to be (even though it is only about 10:15 here).
Here are some pictures from the last couple of days. I am not posting them all, but some good ones. I will post again soon. Sorry for the pictures being a bit messed up. I am trying to redo them from my Iphone. I might just need to download them to the computer.
For better photos we created a Facebook Page: