Well hey...

So...I may have forgotten to update during my last month in South Africa. Oops. I'm sorry. Well, I've done a lot of things in the past month, too much to really summarize. Also, I haven't transferred most of the pictures from my laptop to my desktop. So I'll work on that, but most of the stories from my last month...well, you'll have to talk to me in person in order to hear them. :)

Although, I did...drive on the opposite side of the road...


Say goodbye to some of the best friends I've ever had. :(

But...I'm home now. And I realize...the Sarah that left for South Africa...

is not the same Sarah who came back.


Storms a-brewin'

One thing I've continuously heard about since getting to Johannesburg is, "Wait until you see the thunderstorms." Being from the Midwest, I've seen tons of thunderstorms in my life, and I wondered if there was something special about Jozi thunderstorms that we don't get in the Midwest. Well, I'd say they're pretty much the same, but perhaps a little more intense, and definitely more frequent. It storms so often here!

One thing, however, I was unprepared for: hail.

I couldn't believe how hard or how much it hailed. It was absolutely crazy! It looked like it had snowed by the time it had ended, as you can obviously see in the picture. I was flabbergasted. I told some International House friends that it reminded me of home. :)

You can't really tell, but I'm holding a piece of hail in my hand. :)

Anyway, now I'm trying to navigate South African travel websites, as my friend Jamie will arrive here in about nine days, and I should probably have everything we plan to do booked before she gets here. My friend who has a car is going to go to Kruger National Park with us, which should be a lot of fun, and then we hope to go to Cape Town...to see penguins! Among other things of course, but really, penguins! I'm really really REALLY hoping to get to see Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (tallest waterfall in the world!), but we'll see how that pans out. Cross your fingers for me!

What's exciting is that one of the African girls on my program invited us all to her brother's wedding in Botwana, which is this weekend. So, tomorrow morning, we're all hopping on a bus to Gabarone (pronounce it like it has an "h" instead of a "g") and going to Botswana. So for Halloween this year, I'm going as an American wedding guest in Botswana who has no idea what's going on. I think that's a pretty cool way to spend Halloween. :)

Other than that, not too much going on here that's exciting. I'm in exams right now and it's tough, ja? I've finished three so far, and my final one is Monday morning...so I'm leaving Botswana a day earlier than everyone else so I can get back in time for my exam. Boo. Ag, shame.

I hope midterms went well for any of you college-readers, and I hope everything else is going well for everyone else! :)

PS, I arrive back in the States exactly one month from today. :/


Lions and tigers and...tigers, oh my!

It's getting super hot here. Oh, and I got to walk a tiger, then play with baby white Bengal tigers and baby white lions. All in a day's work, y'know?

Have a good weekend!


"How to Write About Africa"

My friend Brett passed along this article to me, and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I especially liked...

"In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don't get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn't care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular."

And now, my quintessential picture of an African sunset.


You're the most colorful thing that I've seen

"You swim like you're on fire
Live like your last day
Drink like it's water
There's no tomorrow
And you think no one can hear you
Raise your hands to be called on
You know all the answers"
-Rocco DeLuca and the Burden, "Colorful"

After being awoken at 4 AM by drunken singers, I am quite tired, but I feel like I've been neglecting my blog duties, so here will be a short update.

What I did this past week:

-Went to Durban
::Went to uShaka Marine World (i.e. South Africa Sea World)
::Went to Vacca Matta club and lost a dance contest (but still had fun, and an American still won)
::Swam in the Indian Ocean
::Ate Indian food, burned mouth from said Indian food
::Hurt back on go-kart (as described in previous blog)

-Was on a lot of drugs for my back
::Also have a nasty scab (that will probably scar)-- sick.
::But it's feeling (mostly) better now.

::Transsexual woman who tried to enter Miss South Africa pageant, but officials wouldn't let her in because she was not "born a woman" (which drives me nuts, considering Miss Carrie "Opposite Marriage" Prejean was allowed to keep her crown for a while, but Lindiwe wasn't even allowed to participate? Uggh.)

-Went to Carnivore
::Had lamb, wildebeest, zebra, crocodile, blesbok, kudu, beef, pork, and pap. Delicious.
::Tagged the different kinds of meat in this photo on Facebook, cause I'm awesome like that.

-Went to see Public Enemies (starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale)
::Eh. Not that great, expected a bit more.

-Went to Johannesburg Pride
::Glad to see that there's pride all over the world. :)
::Also, got a pair of SA flag shutter shades. What what, you jealous.
::Participated in a pride parade on campus, and got really good at chanting "Hey ho, hey ho, homophobia's got to go!" repeatedly.

-Got two packages
::Thanks Mom and Grandma!
::Got pranked by my parents...thought they sent me my dead dog's ashes, but apparently they were just ashes from the grill. THANKS, DAD.

-Met some Peace Corps volunteers who are serving in Botswana
::Asked them a bunch of questions...definitely still considering PC after college.

I hope that was interesting enough for all of you. By the way, a lot of people have been asking if they can do or send anything to help me out...now that I have < 2 months here, I'm afraid if you send a package, it won't arrive before I leave (the SA post office is not as reliable as I would like it to be). However, there is one way you can help...I miss American music. Well, new music. The American music that gets played here is not exactly to my taste. So, if you find yourself wanting to do something nice for me, an iTunes gift card would be totally freakin' sweet. :) (Cause the cool thing is, you wouldn't even have to mail it to me, you could just scratch off the number and then email it to me.) But totally up to you, you're not under any obligation to do so, I will love you even if you don't. :) Just thought I'd throw that suggestion out there.

Anway. I am super tired, so I am going to bed now. Hope you're all doing well and staying warm, since it's getting cold in the States (whereas I got a tan today from the ever-warming Johannesburg sun). Miss and love you, of course!



"Snails see the benefits,
The beauty in every inch...

But love is nothing you can tax
My family’s not rich by any means
But I feel we won the lottery, that day
The rock swallowed the girl
And I cried as cameras caught my eyes
My tears turned into butterflies
They fly away as caskets close
A new day comes you’ll wake unfolding
Smile when you feel the sunlight
You feel the sunlight"
-The Format, "Snails."

I lied. I didn't have time to write a full update of my trip to Durban today. Sometimes when you go to Durban, you see that they have a go-karting track, and you get really excited and beg your friends to go kart with you, and then as soon as you get in your go kart you punch the gas and go way too fast and crash into a tire wall and then the person you begged to race against you rams into you and then since South Africa doesn't have crazy restrictions like the US does, your go kart doesn't have a seat belt and you slam into your steering wheel and then back onto the seat, and something-- probably a screw-- on the seat rips open the back of your pants and cuts your back and bruises it and then you have a really sore and swollen back that bothers you for days, so you go to the doctor to get it checked out but the doctor spends about 3 1/2 seconds looking at it and thinks you're a junkie just looking for drugs so he sends you away without a painkiller so you go to the pharmacy and the pharmacist tells you that you can't get anything with codeine in it to help you sleep/ deal with the pain, but then you walk over to another pharmacist and get some Ibuprofen and your friend Matt who was nice enough to drive you to the pharmacy noticed that "Ibucod" is ibuprofen plus codeine so you ask the 2nd pharmacist if you can get that and he says, "Yeah, that's fine," and you ask him if you need a prescription and he says no, so he just gives it to you and warns you not to take too much or else you'll get a stomach ache (but he doesn't warn you about possible addiction/ overdose = death) so then you go home and you take your medicine but you can't find a comfortable position on your bed so you end up getting up and looking through Facebook photos instead of doing something productive, cause the medicine makes you tired enough that you can't focus on homework or anything important, and then you end up posting a rambling blog with a few photos in it, cause you like posting photos and no one reads it because well let's face it, everyone has better things to do than read a long rambling paragraph from a girl who's pretty much tripping out on codeine right now.

Anyway. Even though bad things (like the last paragraph) happen...and other bad things (that won't be listed) happen...you just gotta learn to go with the flow.

'Cause, really, you don't know how things are gonna turn out, or what you're gonna learn, who you'll learn to appreciate, or really...anything. We as humans love to think we know everything, but really, we don't know anything. So...you just gotta roll with it and enjoy what you have. :)

And, of course, perhaps celebrate on the beach. :)


Back-- x2

Hey, I'm back from Durban, (mostly) safe and sound. Due to an unfortunate go-karting accident, my back is temporarily out of commission, but a cardiologist (slash father of my friends slash host of the weekend) checked it out and said it looked okay, and hopefully I'll be able to get some muscle relaxants tomorrow from Clicks (apparently you don't need a prescription for them here?).

Had a good weekend though...I'll be sure to put up pictures sometime soon (i.e. tomorrow). Time for me to get some rest from my vacation though. :)

Of course, a picture to tide you over while you wait:

An important message to remember.



Hi all. It's really early (7 AM early). Which is not really that early, I know, but shush. It's a public holiday, so I should be sleeping. But, I am about to go on a road trip to Durban. So I'll be gone for the weekend, hope you all have a good one. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures.

Have a good weekend, love and miss you all.


I'd like to be under the sea

"I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus's garden with me
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade"

-The Beatles, "Octopus's Garden"

I apologize for messing up the leg continuity.

This week was a hectic one, ja? Just a lot of work in classes and a lot for my internship. I'm actually quite tired now, had a good weekend though. The new Fencing Pub is up and running, so it was nice going there on Thursday night. On Friday I hung out with Andre, Wayde, Andre's mom, and her roommate, who's basically the Hall Director for the girl's res next door. That was a riot, it was so much fun just having a braai and talking. Although I did find it quite funny when Jan (pronounced "Yan") asked me..."Do you eat pap?" (In case you don't get it: I'm obsessed with pap.) Then on Saturday, Matt and I went to Cresta and I got some shorts so I don't die of heat stroke here, and Saturday night...oh! I went to a Fordsburg, which is a large Indian community, and since this weekend was Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Eid ul-Fitr (end of Ramadan for Muslims), and....a Hindu holiday that I've forgotten the name of (sorry!) all this weekend, there was a bit market going on at the Oriental Plaza. It was actually really interesting.

I also bought a stun gun at the market. :D It looks like a cellphone and it's really cool. I'll probably never use it, unless someone wants to volunteer to be a tester...? Haha. I'm super stoked about it, in any case.

Then today, Matt and I checked out Melville and ate at a cute little restaurant called "Lucky Bean" (great food and atmosphere), and we also met up with Andre, who then showed us to this watertower that we've heard so much about...turns out, it has a spectacular view. He was totally right in telling us to bring our cameras. :)

You can literally see the entire city from the hill we were on. Crazy!

Tonight I cooked spaghetti and garlic bread and then I finished knitting a scarf. Good thing I'm 20 and not 65. Oh wait...

Anyway. Going to bed now after a good weekend. Hope you're doing well.


So take it to heart

"If someone's been trying to change your mind
But don't take it too hard
If it sounds unkind
Be the problem in hell
Or be the black tie
Dragging heaven down
And then at least half of your heart will be safe and sound."
-The Ascetic Junkies, "A Protest Song"

In my time here, I have found many similarities and many differences. Some due to race, some due to culture, some due to SES (socio-economic status), technology...and a plethora of other reasons.

This weekend I went to the EOH (Edward Oppenheimer House) party, and there were...well, a LOT of people there. Upwards of several hundred. It's one of the biggest parties of the year, apparently. ZaZa's friends and I had to wait for a 2nd bus to pick us up because the first one was literally packed as full as it could get. When we got to the party, one of ZaZa's friends made the fairly obvious observation that I was the only white person there [we later realized that was incorrect, there were 3 white people there, but I was the only female]. We joked about it, saying that if I got separated from the group, they could just say, "Has anyone seen a white girl around here?" It was actually pretty funny, because none of us were really bothered by that, it was just an amusing observation. One thing, though, was that people would come up to ZaZa or her friends and ask who I was...and they'd want to meet me. The "white girl" who was brave enough to come to the party. Strange. So, I met several people who were interested in my simply because of the combination of the color of my skin and the location I was in. I don't feel offended by it at all, it's just very interesting to me.

ZaZa and her friends did, however, teach me to dance. :)

This week, I've noticed a cultural disconnect. Wits is set to increase fees, and students are protesting about it. Now, Central has had fee increases in the past, and all we've done is write articles about it for the Ray, or possibly talk to Student Senate. Nothing of this scale has been done.

Now, like I said, maybe it's the cultural disconnect, but I just don't agree with these protests. If there's a reason why fees need to go up...well, then they have to go up. As a person who is paying for her own schooling, it's scary and difficult. But, since neither the US nor SA offers free education, we can't expect the universities to allow us to go to school for free. That's something to petition the government about though, not the school. However, if you are going to protest...why would you protest outside the Residence halls at 10:30 at night? The protests very clearly have everyone's attention...why do you need to disrupt students who don't want to participate? One of my lecturers was telling us last year that her laptop was stolen during these riot-protests, and that students would just storm in and jump on tables and shout until everyone left. It seems things like that are happening this year, too.

I'm all for civil disobedience, but this just seems excessive and...misplaced? I don't know. Like, if you really want to be heard, act like civil adults, y'know? I've been told that "This is how we do things in SA, you might not be used to it, but it's how we get things done." I guess that might be it. I'm trying to stop forcing my opinions on others, so I'm working on that. It's just hectic this week though, and no one can deny that.

Although, a member of the SRC (Student Representative Committee) from my Psychosocial class spoke to us today, and said it was never the SRC's plan for things to get so out of hand, and the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) is doing things a bit differently than SRC. Apparently, SRC is now talking to the administration and also reprimanding people who are violent. She said it's one thing to walk by a classroom and say, "Hey, we're protesting, come join us!" and let students get up of their own volition, it's someting completely different to storm into a classroom and shout and jump on desks and drag people outside. I can fully agree to that, at least.

Ach. Seems like I still have a lot to learn...or at least come to terms with.

Also...it is officially my halfway point of being here. I have 2 1/2 months left. Let's hope I can make the best of it.


So come on, wheels, take me far away

"Where I don't have debts to pay
I can't count on yesterday to find the way home

I know it happens all the time
But they don't have my back
So I'm never looking back"
-Matt Costa, "Never Looking Back"

P.S. Dear unidentified follower,
Please identify yourself. It's very upsetting to me to see that I have 11 followers, but unable to identify one of them. I'd like to know who's creepin'. Thank you.


Your voice is your own, I can't protect it.

"You'll have to sing
A verse no one has ever known.
Your way will never be too much for me
Your ideas have always been your own
And this moment keeps on moving
We were never meant to hold on."
-Jack Johnson, "Adrift."

So, just finished my Spring Break. It's weird having two in one year, but this certainly didn't feel like Spring Break in the States. As in, there was no talk of going to Cancun to get "totally plastered" and that sort of thing. I decided to stay in Jo'burg for the week, despite invites to Durban and Cape Town, simply due to two factors: 1) Funding and 2) traveling stresses me out. I don't mean actually going to new places, because I love that, it's the getting there process that is really icky. Planes, buses, trains, etc...I get very ill on all of them. Trust me, it is not pretty.

But! I did have a good time exploring Jo'burg and relaxing for the week. I had a small anxiety attack when I was informed that the South African Post Office is on strike and what they'll most likely do is throw away all the piled-up mail from the strike and throw it away, but since the strike is now solved, I hope that means I'll get my mail this week (and the people I sent mail to will also get theirs). But we'll see. Cross your fingers for me, ja?

I don't remember what I did all week, to be honest. Sorry! I know Friday was a party at the Explorer's Pub (which turned out less like a fun party and more like me being an RA again and taking care of a very drunk girl), and Saturday was the closing night of the Fencing Pub. It was quite sad, because "Fencing" is what we do every Thursday night, but now the bar is being torn down because of construction in the area. But, it was a fun night, indeed.

Fish and Rafael doing something that made me snort.

On Sunday I went shopping with Ori and explored a bit of Sandton (we saw an organic/whole food mart that happens every Sunday morning, but were too late to really shop around. I shall have to check it out another weekend). Then we went back to Ori's place and I baked cupcakes for my boss at my internship for her birthday. :) On Monday, Ori and I took said cupcakes to work to deliver to my boss...who, coincidentally, was in meetings all day, so we just left her cupcake (large cupcake) and present (a nice pashmina scarf) on her desk. I haven't gone back to work since then, so I'll find out on Tuesday whether she liked them or not. Then Ori and I went to the Oriental plaza to look at Indian clothes and other cool Indian things. It was really interesting, even though I didn't end up getting anything more than a chicken samoosa (delicious). Tuesday...I don't really remember. Apologies. Wednesday...I think Andre came over, and we watched Star Wars: Episode 1. It was cool, because he knows SO much about Star Wars that he was able to give me all this extra information about the storyline that I wouldn't have known otherwise. Wednesday night, Matt and I went to Gramadoelas, a really classy authentic South African restaurant in Newtown, right by the historic Market Theater. It actually has a lot of history to it, so it's really cool. I tried a few new dishes, like some kind of ostrich dish, some kind of tandoori chicken, a lamb dish, ox tripe, some Koeksisters (syrupy deep fried crullers from Batavia, from the Gramadoelas website), and some Cape Town dessert wine. I'm sure I had more, but I can't remember it all right now. Lo siento.
On Thursday...I went to lunch with Matt (American friend) and Matt (redhead SA friend), then Matt (redhead) and I went for a walk down the the pond on campus that I didn't even know existed. It's quite lovely, and it has ducks (I lied, they're geese, but I think ducks are cooler and have a better name, so that's what I--incorrectly--call them). :D Yay ducks! We then ran into some friends who were having a picnic, so even though Matt had to leave, I hung out and enjoyed the picnic...and of course, fed the duckies. :)

Well, after that, I don't remember what happened. I imagine something cool, but I do not remember. Again, apologies. On Friday, ZaZa, Matt (American), and I went to the Johannesburg Zoo. We took a taxi there, thanks to ZaZa's knowledge of how to use black taxis. We ended up going to the wrong zoo entrance and had to walk a long way to the correct gate. Eish. Of course, ZaZa and I complained the whole way. (It was hot!) Matt somehow dealt with us, and I think he got back at us by nearly killing us on the golf buggy that you can rent at the zoo (you can drive around the zoo in a golf cart! How cool is that!?). He first drove off too fast and ZaZa's bag fell off the cart, then he accidentally jumped up on a curb and popped a tire, and then we traded carts with a zoo worker, but Matt somehow broke the ignition and we had to have 2 different zoo workers help us to figure it out. It was actually quite funny. :)

We saw some really cool animals at the zoo, despite it being just barely not winter anymore. It was a good time. Friday night, Matt and I tried a new restaurant (well, new to us) at Rosebank called Europa. It was legit, I got pancakes, and they were very tasty. :)

On Saturday, we met Ameet at 6 AM (!!) to head off the Pilanesburg National Park and saw some really cool stuff.

I jumped from one rock to another on the top of a mountain, but unfortunately Ameet cut off my head. I'm just celebrating my rock-jumping victory.

We spent most of the day there, and despite being made fun of for (repeatedly) confusing rocks and lions at the Rhino and Lion park a few weeks before, I ended up spotting some really cool animals, and we stopped the car just before a herd of elephants stepped out of the bush. It was way intense.

An "ellie" (as Katie P. calls them) and her baby. :)

I made PB&J sandwiches for everyone, and Keiko (a Japanese student who also lives at International House), Ameiko (her sister who was visiting for the week, though I may have butchered the spelling of her name), and Ameet had never had PB&J before. I told them that it was an American delicacy...and they seemed to enjoy them. :) Saturday night, Ameet took me, Matt, Rosha (again, terrible name spelling....she's a German student here), and Janice (student from Singapore) out to a Portuguese restaurnt. I was texting Erik at the time, because they were playing the Germany vs. South Africa game on the TV inside the restaurant. Unfortunately, I believe SA lost...poor Bafana Bafana. :(

Sunday (today!) was another good day. Slept in a bit, then went to Rosebank with Matt. I intended to buy some shorts for the upcoming summer weather, but it appears that stores here aren't yet ready for summer clothes! The Africans don't seem to be bothered by the heat quite yet, even though I'm already dying. While I didn't find any shorts, I did stumble across the African market that I didn't know existed (well, had never been to before is more like it). I bought some really cool things, including a dress, a Springboks rugby jersey (discounted, oh yeah), a beautiful photo of the Jo'burg skyline, a miniature ficus tree to spruce (ha, tree pun) up my room, and some cinnamon sticks from another country that I cannot remember right now. Not bad, ja? I also went shopping at Wooly's (Woolworths, kind of like Super Target) and got some new tea and some ground beef so I could make hamburgers...which Matt helped me to do, and now I can officially make my own hamburgers. Oh snap I am awesome. (Not really, but I like to celebrate little victories.)

So, that was my week in a particularily large nutshell. I hope all is well with you, and now that the Post Office strike is over, I expect a ton of mail from you! :)

Go well!


I like where we are

"When we drive in your car
I like where we are...here."
-Hellogoodbye, "Here [In Your Arms]"

I miss my bestie, Erik Donner.

Sometimes you realize how awesome your life is, and mostly because of the people in it. And you realize how much it sucks being apart, but it's one of those things that you've gotta do so you can figure out about yourself and your life and your future and all that important kind of stuff.

But, you also realize how much these people mean to you and how much you'll appreciate them when you are reunited with them. :)

Of course, this doesn't mean I miss any of you any less. :)


Caster Semenya

For those of you in America, you may not have heard about Caster Semenya, the South African runner who recently broke a world record for the 800 meter at this year's world championships in Berlin.

Unfortunately, if you know even that much about her, you probably also know about the controversy surrounding her...the fact that her sex is being called into question, and people are claiming that she is not eligible to run because she is not a woman.

First of all, as we discussed in my media class, people need to start getting terminology right, and they need to understand important distinctions. Most articles speak about her "gender" and how she isn't a "woman." Gender is not something you can test. Well, I guess it is, but it'd be a pretty simple test, you'd simply ask her, "Are you a man or a woman?" and whatever she responds with, that's what gender she is. Gender is simply a construct...a Western construct, at that. Sex is your biological traits, and even our thoughts on that are flawed. We are stuck in the belief that there are only 2 sexes, and that they are 100% correlated with our genders. This is simply not true. Some people are born with a XX chromosomes, but they feel like men, or they're born with XY chromosomes, but feel like women. That's not the only case though, as some people are born with XXY chromosomes, or XXX chromosomes.

Why are we so stuck on categorizing people and making sure they fit our stereotypes? In my class, people were suggesting that she has "masculine" traits, so they should investigate her. Excuse me? What exactly are "masculine" traits? Do all men suddenly look alike? Are they all exactly the same? Bill Clinton and I probably share more traits than he and Shaq do...but they're both men. We really need to reaccess what defines people and with which criteria we should judge them by.

If it is found that Caster is not "fully" female (explanation in this article), should she be disqualified from the race? I think not. Many other athletes have "deformities," yet they're still allowed to compete. Lance Armstrong has an abnormally enlarged heart and lengthened femur bones, and Michael Phelps has relatively large feet and double-jointed ankles...so should we disqualify them from competitions? Of course these "deformities" give them advantage-- but is that really the only thing that makes them good athletes? No, of course not. They work hard to be in the shape that they're in-- why would we disqualify for something they were born with? The same should apply to Caster.

And for goodness sake, back off of the poor girl. She's 18 years old and she likes to run. Let her! Stop insulting her by saying things like you "can see her Adam's Apple." And start getting terminology correct.

But most of all, have some respect for her dignity. No matter what you think she is, she is first and foremost still a human.


And it wears me out, it wears me out.

"It wears me out, it wears me out
And if I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted
All the time, all the time"
-Radiohead, "Fake Plastic Trees"

Wow, was this a long, long week. Where should I start? Well, Brett was diagnosed with cancer early in the week, and he was sent home on Tuesday night. I hung out with his mom on Wednesday and showed her the Origins Center (and by that I mean Matt gave her a tour. I just tagged along and had some tea with her in Cafe Fino afterward). But I've gotten a few messages from him and he's keeping his spirits up, and he's responding pretty well to treatment it sounds like, so that's also good. We had an IHRE (that's the name of my program, FYI) get together and we talked about his condition and just kind of relaxed after the hectic week. Sarah G., Neo, and I made signs for Brett's picture.

(Please note that the exclamation point is all by itself. Also; this was the "goofy" picture, so the "we" is upside down.)

That was on Friday evening, and after that I had planned on just relaxing, but my friend Andre kidnapped me and told me I was going ice skating. So...I went ice skating. They wanted to know if I had ever gone ice skating before...fortunately, the Pettit is about a mile from my house. I used to be pretty good, but it's been a long time since I've gone. Luckily since I'm going home in winter, I'll be able to skate at home some more, because I do like skating.

Me and Maria tearin' the place apart.

On Saturday, I was invited to go play paintball with my friend Ori. We went all the way up to Pretoria to go...which I initially thought was very far away, but it turns out it's only about 50 km (about 30 miles) away from Johannesburg. It reaffirmed what I learned last week after going to the Lion Park (which was explained to me to be quite a distance away), that distances here are not seen the same way I would see them. I'd say Carnivore and the Lion Park are about as far as...maybe Germantown is from 'Stallis, or if you're one of my Iowa friends, about Pella to Pleasant Hill. So not that bad to us, but transportation is very different here, since fewer people have access to cars, and petrol (gas) is much more expensive. But anyway, Pretoria is about 30 miles away. It's very Afrikaaner there. Johannesburg is much more English...you could definitely tell by the street signs, since the Pretoria had much more Afrikaans names.

But the best part...paintball. I played a few games with Ori's friends for someone's 21st birthday (it's funny, 21st birthdays are a big deal here, but they can start drinking at 18, so I'm not sure what the big fuss is for the 21st here). I had a lot of fun playing paintball, even though I've got welts now...or as I like to call them, battle scars. It was interesting because they were much more lax on rules than what I'm used to for paintball...for example, people can drink on the course. If they even think you've had something to drink at the paintball place I usually play at, they'll kick you out. Crazy. But, I guess America is a bit more lawsuit happy than South Africa.

One of the puppies of the dog that hangs around the paintball place.

I did get to play with the puppies there after we played paintball, and I got to enjoy a braai. I had some chicken and some vors (which is basically sausage)...quite good. I had a ton of fun, it was awesome...or as they say in SA, it was totally lekker. :) I exchanged lingo with some of Ori's friends. I'm basically a South African already.

Oh, and holding the puppy was good practice for the new niece or nephew that I'm going to have in a few months! My brother's girlfriend is due on March 22nd. I'm quite excited! :)

So, I'll leave you on that positive note and go watch some episodes of House. Goodybye, my chinas!



This is why I don't believe in karma.

From Africa - Wits Rural

I do not subscribe to the "Just World" theory.


Belief is a beautiful armor

"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water
You never can hit who you're trying for"
-John Mayer, "Belief"

Had a pretty good weekend. A great source of stress started on Friday, but I'm not gonna go into that just yet. I went to Rosebank (mall) with Tiara and my Gender professor, Shatema, and they showed me a fantastic restaurant (Prima Piatti) that has very good drinks...so I ended up going there Saturday night and trying the Raspberry Teapot. (Hint: it's not only tea.) I also got my hair cut on Friday, and then on Saturday I went back to Rosebank for a lot of random stuff. Ended up getting Erik a camera, some new clothes, some food, contact lens stuff, and probably some other things that I'm forgetting in my current delirious state.

Raspberry Teapot from Primi Piatti's in Rosebank, by the Zone. Highly alcoholic, highly recommended.

Sunday was the most fantastic day ever. Ameet took Matt and me to the Lion and Rhino Park just outside of Jo'burg, and we got to see TONS of animals (brown lions, white lions, Siberian and Bengal tigers, Wildebeest, ostriches, rhinos, snakes, leopards, cheetahs, etc.). It was way cool. We even got to watch the animals being fed and we got to play with baby lions (white and brown), and then a cheetah. It was so cool. :)

Playing ball with a baby lioness

This upcoming week is going to be very difficult for me for many reasons, but I just need to remember why I'm doing what I'm doing, and that should help me get through all this.

Anyway, right now I need to sleep. If you'd like to see my pictures from the Lion and Rhino park, check out my album: http://picasaweb.google.com/sarah.moglia/LionAndRhinoPark#

Good day with good people :)


Wow :)

I just wanted to once again say that the love, support, and encouragement from people is truly overwhelming and humbling. I'm still surprised every time someone tells me that they know/knew I'd "go far in life" and that I would really "become something." Especially due to the fact that I don't think I've become anything yet. Regardless, thank you to everyone who's supported me or enouraged me throughout this process. You're doing more good than you know.
Every so often, it hits me that I'm really here and I'm really doing this. It's really eye-opening to realize things like ubuntu and how I'm affecting other people, but to also realize that I'm still very young, and honestly, kind of just a bug on the earth...but everyone is. I know they're kind of contradictory ideas, but I realize that I can both make a difference in the world, but still be just one tiny person (literally and metaphorically, ha ha).
This is my life, and I hope I'm living it right. :)
Thank you once again.


Not the Same After That

"You took the word and made it heard
And eased the people's pain and for that
You were idolised, immortalised
And you were not the same after that"
-Ben Folds, "Not the Same"

Just rockin' out to some Ben Folds right now. :) Thought those were some fitting lyrics.

Other Sarah and I rocking out to ABBA at an outdoor mall on Friday

So, when did I last update? Well, let's think on what I've done. I've mostly been going to class and work (my internship...I'm not paid for it, but for future reference, it's easier to say "work" than "my internship") and hanging out with friends when I have the time. Well, let's think. Thursday there was an all day long Cyber Law seminar at my internship, and since it's been an incredibly warm winter here in Jozi (nickname for Johannesburg), the room was ridiculously warm. Hard to stay awake...oops. Then Friday I spent most of the day sitting in Cafe Fino (probably the best place on campus to get food) with friends and downloading things on iTunes...and eating quite a bit. I also may have talked one of the managers into getting some dairy-free desserts, so potential score for me!

On Saturday I went to Soweto with ZaZa to hang out with her family. :) I rode a "black taxi" there...I hesitate to use that term, because I'm not sure if it's racist or not...? But honestly, that's what everyone else (including ZaZa) calls it, so...well, that's what I know it as. Anyway, that was an experience. Hanging out in Soweto was also interesting, because every time we walked past someone, they would talk to us because I'm white, and you don't often see white people in Soweto. We played with ZaZa's nephew (i.e. her "practice baby"), went to Maponya Mall, and I helped to make PAP! So excited about that. :)

What else? I visited my friend Wayde's house, that was pretty cool. I actually experienced my first real bout of homesickness this weekend from seeing my friends interact with their families. It's kind of like...oh, hey, I have a family, too...who I won't see for another 4 months. But, I'm having a great experience here, so I try to focus on that.

Monday was Women's Day, which is actually a public holiday here. Supposedly, we weren't supposed to have class, but our lecturer for our Intership class talked us into having a double class. She's a crafty one. Today in my Human Rights in the Media class we discussed homosexuality in the media, and it became a really intense discussion/debate. The professor and I were basically on the same wavelength, which I thought was really cool. We talked a bit after class, and she echoed some of my frustrations with our class/ the program. She also invited me to sit in on her Gender in the Media course next week, which I'm really excited about.

Well, my aunt Diane is telling me I should go to bed now (she actually told me that two hours ago, but I'm a procrastinator), so I should do that now.There are some pictures of my shenanigans up on Facebook, if you'd like to check those out. :)

Anyone have any questions for me? About my trip? About S. Africa in general? Feel free to post questions and I'll try to address them in my next update.

(Also, another shoutout for Google Reader. It's a fantastic program. Look into it! Google.com/reader.)


You were hangin' in the corner with your 5 best friends...

Blog title from the new Cobra Starship song, "Good Girls Go Bad" :) So excited about that album, comes out August 11th. I'm definitely going to Cresta (big mall) to pick it up as soon as it comes out.

This is me and some friends on Friday night, getting some Chinese food in the Matrix, which is our student center. [From left: Fuzzy, Andre (in the back), Wayde, Me, Matt...I'm giving you their names because I hang out with them a lot, and if I say their names, at least you can put a face to them.]

Before coming here, I was warned about how difficult classes would be, and how grading is different, and all that. Basically, it's impossible to earn anything above a 90%, and anything above an 80% is very very rare. If you get high 70's, you're doing great. They don't give out letter grades though, it's more like "first mark" or "second mark," etc. I had a group presentation in my media class this week, and I was really nervous, because there are very few assignments in every class, and they all count for quite a bit of your grade. So this one group presentation was worth 20% of my entire grade-- yikes! We had five people in our group, and our job was to summarize two articles and then explain how they expand or undermine the idea of Habermas's public sphere (any other Comm majors out there should know what that is). We had two people summarize each article, and I brought them together at the end to talk about how they relate to the public sphere. Well, we got our grade back today and we got...a 78%! First mark (distinction). :) Whatever that means. The professor (she's actually a professor, meaning she's like the highest in her department) had a few things to say about our presentation, notably..."The conclusion was also well executed, with some key arguments weaved together impressively." :) That made me very happy. I'm glad I can keep up here, I was really worried that I'd be the dumbest person on the program. (Sorry to toot my own horn, I'm just very excited.)

My package also arrive today!! That was a very big deal, as I forgot to bring any shoes that are suitable for dressing up (which I have to do for my internship), and my mom sent me my two favorite pairs. Yay! It was actually a very funny experience, because every day I go to the IHRE office, expectantly run in, and ask Elanza if my package has arrived yet. She also looks sad and tells me, "no it hasn't, I'm sorry." Then I sigh sadly and carry on with my day. Well today I went into the IHRE office, and Elanza had gone home sick. :( So I decided to check my email since I had a little time to kill before class, and there was an email from her, telling me that my parcel had arrived!! She said I was supposed to take my ID and the package slip up to the post office to get it. I ran into Ayesha's office and said, "If I were a package slip, where would I be?!" and she showed me...so I literally grabbed it and ran upstairs to the post office (after getting slightly confused on the stairs as to where to go), ran up to the postal lady, and asked her for my package. But...I needed my passport to get it. I only had twelve other forms of identification (US driver's license, Wits Student ID card, International Student Identification Card, insurance card, student discount card, credit card, two certified letters saying I'm Sarah Moglia and if I don't have my Wits ID yet so please let me onto campus anyway [those are from before I had my ID card, cause you need an ID to get onto campus]...okay, that's not 12 forms of ID, but still, it's close.). Postal lady will not budge until I have my passport. I literally start crying in the post office, freaking out about how I've been waiting so long to get it and I don't have time to run back to my room before they close...but the postal lady holds her ground. So, I start booking it back to the IHRE office, and Matt catches up to me...he helps me calm down. We go to the IHRE office, and luckily they have a copy of my passport in the office, so I grab that, and Matt and I book it back up to the post office, bobbing and weaving around everyone who is walking slow (which is everyone). We get to the post office, and success! Packagey goodness! We tear it open to find the most random assortment of goodies ever. :) A 3lb box of Hershey's (per ZaZa's request), two pairs of shoes, a toothbrush, my Brewers shirt, family photos, disposable razors, corn nuts (which I've never even touched before in my life), fun dip, a flashlight, a replacement light bulb for said flash light (as it does not work), and two things of hand sanitizer. Yeah...a bit random, but that's Joan for you, hey? :)

That was that excitement. Oh, y'all remember how I "Obama'd" my toe on election night? (Obama'd = ran into a door due to excitement over Obama's victory) I did that again today. Except there's no cool story, I just turned around and slammed my toe (the same toe!) into my door here. Now it's all purple and swollen...awesome. I basically rock at life. I'll probably post a picture of it sometime soon, just so you can all enjoy it just as much as I am.

Well, what else has happened? Apparently I'm a "pool shark" here, according to Wayde-- and anyone who's seen me play at Central will laugh at that, since I never win at school.

Oh, I traded my friend Neo (pronounced Nay-oh, not Neo like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix) an Obama button for a Mandela button. :) I so blend in now!

My internship at the South African Human Rights Commission is going well. I sat in on an important meeting about the Golden Key Award ceremony with people from Limpopo and Cape Town and all over...I had no idea what they were talking about the entire time! But hey, I looked really important. There's apparently a big seminar on Cyber Law tomorrow, so that should be really interesting. I'm going to be working with Ori (an IHRE participant from last year) on a training manual about PAIA for security guards-- I'll explain more about that another time.

This blog isn't very contemplative, but I figure I need to keep track of the little things that happen here so I can remember them after I leave.

Anyway, you wanna do me a favor? If you actually read my blog, but don't "follow" it publicly as a Google user, could you leave me a comment telling me that you do read it? That'd be nice, I'd just like to know who's reading this. If you don't have a Google account, you should definitely look into that. Just go to google.com/reader and sign up...then you can follow blogs and you'll automatically be notified when I update this. :) Yay for an RSS feed!

Time for bed for me now...hope you're having a fantastic week!


Not quite the same; not quite different

What I have had the most trouble coming to terms with here is that life in South Africa is not quite the same as life in the US, but it not quite different, either. Water is still water, college students are still college students, some people are nice, some people are rude, everybody has to eat, and everybody has to go to the bathroom. However, that doesn't mean all those things happen in the same way. Water isn't always accessed from a faucet inside the house (in rural areas), and even in the city, they have two faucets in most sinks-- one for hot, one for cold. Food is obviously different, people have different customs and phrases, and even pit toilets are not the same. Port-o-Johns are a luxury compared to the literal holes in the ground that they have in rural areas.

I think I've just realized that life is still life and people are still people, no matter where you go...it's all just in different packaging and with a different label.


In the swing of things

Well, I've been in Africa for a month already. I'm shocked that it's already been a month...hard to believe that I'll only be here for another 4 months. I feel very acclimated in certain aspects, but completely like a foreigner in other aspects (still not used to driving on the opposite side of the road).

Some things have been really fun (like all-you-can-eat ribs while watching a Springboks rugby game with friends, then going out to play pool afterward), some things have been really frustrating (like having my internship delayed for several weeks and not being able to use a hair dryer that I bought here because I need an adapter--then not even getting the right adapter), and some things have been scary-- like trying a traditional African dance in front of 50 people you've just met. But, hey, if I can do that, I think I can do anything. :)

On the plus side, my internship at HRC (Human Rights Commission, I was wrong about the acronym in my last post, sorry, HURISA is the Human Rights Institute of South Africa...which makes more sense) starts tomorrow. I'm in the Communications department, which is great for my major. Hopefully I'll get credit for it back at Central. Here's a group of us on the steps of the Great Hall (which I often confuse with Senate House, because they're connected) just before the internship luncheon a week or so ago.

Other than that, things have been really good. I'm hopefully going to a Reggae show down at Bassline tomorrow night (Bassline = hip theater in Newtown)...Friday is a party at the Explorer's pub, and Saturday there's some sort of Indian dance that my friend Ori told me about (Ori is the other person in my dance picture...I'll let you guess which person he is). Should be a pretty fun weekend.

Now that I'm more used to Jo'burg, I'm starting to check out more of the city. I'm hopefully going to a few new restaurants next week, and since I purposely scheduled my internship so I have Fridays free, I might be taking a weekend trip to Durban and/or Cape Town. (Cape Town has penguins! Seriously!)

Anyway, International House (where I live) is pretty nice. Here's the view from outside my door...it's lovely, and not the winter-view I'm used to.

I hope you're doing well! The emails I'm getting are great, thanks so much, everyone!


Tour of my living space

Well, I've been traveling since June 27th, and I've officially been in Africa for 3 weeks. I've now been in my room for about 2 weeks, and it's beginning to feel like "home." I'd still like to spruce up my room a bit, but I know I can't take everything home, so we'll see how that goes.

Here's my bed...this is where I do most of my sleepings. If not there, then generally on uncomfortable buses.

Here's my bulletin board...if you weren't in attendance, all those handwritten notes are the lovely notes that my friends wrote me at my going-away party. The printed ones are emails from people who were unable to attend, and then pictures that my sister sent me...in the bottom corner is the information for my return flight (leave OR Tambo Airport at 8:05 PM, Saturday, November 28th, arrive back at JFK at 7:40 AM on Sunday, November 29th). All these notes and pictures make me smile though, so if you wrote one of them, thank you. :)

Here's my kitchen...notice the complete lack of any real food? Yeah...I eat out a lot. Although I do make a lot of tea in my room.

Cheers! (This is what I do after sleeping in on a Friday morning when my internship is canceled and I have basically nothing else to do.)