Hi everyone! I must apologize for the delay in my post- life can be pretty overwhelming in a new country (in a good way)! I found that there was SO SO much to share with you that I didn’t even know where to begin. So… I didn’t begin. I’ve journaled every day, but I let my insights pile up without blogging about them . Everyone who knows me well knows I’m a master procrastinator and a perfectionist, so the combo doesn’t serve well for routine blog writing. But today was too momentous of an occasion to not write, so here we are.
I’VE BEEN HERE 3 MONTHS!!! I arrived in this beautiful country on Sept 4 and WOW have I had a worthwhile experience. I need to start off by saying I am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity to work at a health clinic in South Africa. Every single day has been growing experience, a trial, a blessing, a reminder that this life is worth living to the fullest. I really feel like I fit in now! I reached that point about 3 weeks ago. I’m used to the lay of the land and I have friends! (You don’t realize how much you miss social interaction until you lose it and then gain it back). I remember calling my mom in early November saying, “I have enough friends to make plans with each of them on the weekends and it will last me til the end of the year! That’s like 7 whole friends!!” And even since then that number has grown. I really really love it here and am thriving!
This wouldn’t be a good blog if I only talked about how great everything is. It wasn’t all happiness and rainbows I must say…the first 2 months were pretty hard. At first EVERYTHING was foreign and I didn’t realize how exhausting that can be. Imagine having to explain your life story to every person you meet. While that can be fun and exciting, it was always new and I was finding myself coming home from work and being so exhausted from new experiences that day that I would just sit and do nothing (which I realized is needed sometimes too). At my one month point I thought “I should be doing more!” but then realized I needed more time to adjust and that’s ok! And if I need to have a Netflix night that’s ok! We don’t talk about self care enough. We’re not all Superwoman (heck, even Superwoman needs a day off every once in a while).
Ok time for a non-emotional life update. Remember the microwave? aka my little red car? Well, it’s dead. Not battery dead, engine dead. In my last post I said the darn thing always passes inspection and is still goin strong. That is, until the end of September. I was driving on the highway and smelled smoke and then realized the smell was coming from MY car so I tried to get to the gas station to figure out what’s wrong but I didn’t even make it 1 more kilometer when the car just stopped accelerating. I pulled over on the side of the highway and all this smoke was coming from under the hood and I didn’t know what to do, or whether the car was going to explode. I called my host family and thankfully they were home and offered to come get me! We left the car on the side of the road, it was towed later that day, and we got the quote a week later that it’ll cost 34,000 ZAR (South African rand) to fix. Well, the car was only worth 30,000 ZAR at that point so you can see it wasn’t worth keeping. I then had to go car hunting, which I had absolutely no experience doing, let alone doing it in another country. Shout out to my host dad Trevor who was an amazing help with car searches.
In the meantime, how do you suppose I got to work?? There were no other clinic owned automatic cars (90% of cars are manual). So…I said teach me to drive a manual. And I DID IT. It was honestly really difficult and I would stall at least 5 times a day but I got the hang of it after a few weeks. Actually right as I got comfortable with it, I got a new automatic. RIP my stick shift skills, October-October 2019. Now I can impress all my friends back home because I know how to drive a manual car. On the other side of the road. In traffic, uphill both ways (seriously though, it’s a road that dips so I literally drive uphill both ways to work). The new car is a beautiful little automatic Nissan Tiida and man it’s nice not having to drive with 2 hands and 2 feet.
In other news, I have found GREEK PEOPLE. Turns out there’s a pretty big pop of Greeks and Cypriots in SA. I went to church a few weeks into being here and tried to scope out the nicest looking person to chat with after church was over. And sure enough, the woman I identified was SO nice and welcoming and we even went out to lunch together that day. I also started going to greek dance practice!!! It’s for 20-35 yr olds. I’ve Greek danced my whole life, but had a 4 year college hiatus, and am loving that I can return to it. I’m making so many friends at practice and it’s made so happy here, a little piece of home!
In closing, I’ve added a new segment I like to call: 12 fun facts from a gen 12 fellow
- When it rains it pours (I bless the rains down in AAAFRICAAAA)
- Africa time is worse than Greek time
- Being trilingual is just another day in the office (there are 11 official languages and 95% of the pop is bilingual at the very least).
- People say I sound like Siri with my American accent and I will yell directions like “in 200 meters, turn left” in the car to mess with them
- Ketchup is called tomato sauce
- A South African glass of wine is way more volume than an American glass of wine
- I have been 10 ft from a zebra (while running a 5k on a game reserve)
- Mosquitos are the WORST
- Joburg traffic is sooo hectic but my commute is only 8 mins (7 mins on a good day)
- On Heritage day everyone wore elaborate traditional outfits to work and I decided to wear a Union College shirt, Gamma Phi Beta sorority sweatshirt, and a red white and blue headpiece cause that was about as American as I could think of. People asked me why I wasn’t wearing a costume and I was like America has no culture what do you want me to do…
- South African accents sound really cool to Americans so I wonder am I cool to them or am I just American??
- Lastly, the fact that explains the title, I started attending Zumba classes at the local gym! I’m having a blast and love that I can continue my dancing here. Might even come back to the US Zumba certified!
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! My host family and I had a mini celebration together with ham, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, cran sauce, and homemade apple pie (sadly no turkey, it basically doesn’t exist here). Miss you all!! Shoutout to the old lady at my mom’s gym who asks about me.
Next blog coming v soon I promise I won’t procrastinate this one!