Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cape Town

We flew in to Cape Town from Jo'burg on Wednesday. It's hard to believe we've been in the country less than 1 full week,it feels like it's been weeks. Cape Town is a wonderful city,I'd love to come back here for a vacation some time with Max & family. So far we've done lots of touristy things, especially in Jo'burg (ie. Apartheid Museum, bus tours around the city,etc), which have been fun,but I haven't gotten a chance to get a feel for either Jo'burg or Cape Town.

On Saturday night we move in with our host families in Langa, one of the townships outside of Cape Town. We will live with that family for four weeks while we take classes in Rondebosch(where the University of Cape Town is).I'm not sure if I already said this,but my family is a retired mother, a 25 year old daughter who works, a 19 year old boy who sings & a 4 year old granddaughter. It should be a lot of fun,I'm looking forward to it. We also start our official classes on Monday,although we've had Xhosa lessons every day (I'll put a few sayings,with pronounciation at the bottom of this). I can't wait to start learning about social change here(our lecture schedules look great!) and I'm getting excited about my ISP- the last month here where we spend the whole time living independently and doing research on a topic of our choice.

So far I've just been adjusting to the dynamics of traveling with a group,which I really haven't done before. Most of the people on my trip haven't traveled much outside of Europe,if they've gone there at all. So this is really exciting for them,it's pretty cute. However, many of them see places & experiences here & think they're uniquely South African,whereas they're pretty common things in any big city outside of the US (at least in my experiences). There seems to be quite a bit of underlying nervousness/patronizing attitudes towards the predominantly black population among a lot of the people on the trip,so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. I've heard a lot of "oh,black babies are the best,I want to take them away from this..." and "oh,Africa...". There isn't really any distinction between South Africa & the rest of the continent. People keep saying how exicted they are to see lions...

Anyway,enough of my ranting/cultural observations of my group. It's been occupying my mind lately though,and I wanted to share.

Ok,now Xhosa. It's a really fun language,and surprisingly easy. It's quite simple linguistically,with congugations being suffixes,prefixes and occassionally infixes rather than a complete change of the word. It's not hard to say either,and the fact that it's a Roman alphabet really makes it easier.
Here's a few things we've learned so far:

Hello: molo (mo-low)
How are you?: Unjani? (oon-ja-nee)
I'm good,thank you. And you?: ndipilile enkosi,wena? (nDeePeeLeeLay engosi, way-nah)
Where are you originally from?: usuka phi? (oo-soo-kah pee)
I am from the US: ndisuka eUS (nDee-soo-kah eh-US
Where do you study?: ufunda phi? (oo-foon-dah pee)
I study at the University of Washington & I study sociology: ndifunda eUniversity of Washington, ndifunda isociology. (nDee-foon-dah ehUniversity of Washington,nDee-foon-dah eee-sociology).

Okay,that's your lesson for the day! Everyone here says OK all the time,as a response to anything & everything.


ps.I'd love to get emails or comments,it makes me feel connected. :)


  1. Hi, honey! Thinking of you today. Talked to Max (misses you). Got a pair of your shoes back from the cleaners (slip-ons with thick soles and purple canvas tops). Love the language lesson. Will practice! Love, MIL/YOM

  2. Hey babe, I can't say this enough, but I miss and love you. Just thinking of you, and please post as much cultural observations as you can, I love it.

    Ndiya kuthanda,

  3. oh lila, i'm so happy you're getting to do this! group dynamics are just as much a part of the learning. boy it brings back memories of my Kenya trip and the huge group process we went through after 8 members of the group decided they had to smoke dope at our Thanksgiving gathering at the Attorney General of Kenya's house. How's that for crazy? looking forward to hearing everything. love, Margaret