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South Africa!

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FC: SOUTH AFRICA STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE January - March 2011 | Kiyanda Peterson

2: South African Journal Day 1 (January 16, 2011): Dena and I arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa today around 5:30 local time. Our flight from Atlanta to J’berg was 14 hours which turned out not to be so bad. During our descent into the area, we noticed a lot of unoccupied land outside of the city. However, once we were hovering over the city of J’berg, the scene quickly began to change. As the plane landed, I began to get butterflies in my stomach. Was I really about to step into the Motherland?? It felt so unreal. Although I never really had the desire to visit Africa, I was really excited when the opportunity presented itself. Not only would I get to visit the country, I would get to live and study here as well. It was something I was excited and yet overly nervous about. Since I would be the only person from Fuqua studying here, I had my doubts. Everyone I spoke with told me that the country was dangerous and that I shouldn’t go alone. Luckily, Dena decided she would accompany me here so that I wouldn’t feel alone for the first few days. Boy am I happy she made that decision!! LOL Once we arrived in the airport and cleared customs, I immediately felt one of the differences between being in the US and a foreign country. In the US, we are always rushed. We have no patients and quickly get upset when things don’t occur when and how we wanted them to. Our bags took FOREVER in baggage claims. We walked out of the secured area and into the welcoming hub of the airport. There were definitely more people there waiting on loved ones than you would see in the US. Families embracing and conversing in the meet and greet area was a welcoming site!

3: Dena and I realized quickly that everyone here has their hustle. As we tried to figure out where we needed to go to catch a taxi, we were approached by an African gentleman that presented his services as a driver. When he asked where we were heading and we informed him we needed to get to Parktown, he quickly quoted us a price of R350. We were just about convinced to take him up on his offer until he made mention that metered taxis would cost more. RED FLAG!! That comment led me to believe that he was not an official taxi driver. I had been warned against taking non-metered taxis in the South African area, so I quickly declined. As we headed over to an area where cell phones could either be rented or purchased, the same guy followed us to try to convince us to use his services. After we declined again and decided to wait to get a cell phone outside of the airport (Mistake #1), we walked over to the official information desk and asked where we needed to go to catch a taxi. The guy at the desk asked us where we were going and motioned to another guy to come to speak with us. What do you knowhe offered us the same rate and ended up carrying us to our destination in what looked to be his personal vehicle. Hey, we got here safe so I can’t complain!! He did, at least have on a name tag that designated him as a tour guide so I guess that eased our fears. Thinking back on it now, I probably shouldn’t have used his services either. On our ride from the airport to the University, we drove through very different parts of the city. Some looked like highways that you would see in the US (just flipped because they drive on the opposite side of the street), as well as areas that felt very unsafe. In one particular area, our driver informed us that we were in a portion of the city that was “notorious” and that we should not wander into during our stay in the city. The area was called Hillbrow. There were tons of people walking around this area. Some were walking through the streets. Some were congregating in an overly crowded park area. Some were asleep under overpasses. Our driver told us it was the area in which most people from other parts of Africa came to settle in flats. He said due to the differences in culture, language, etc, there were always uproars in that area of the city. He said that area alone is what gives the city a bad name. The city is split into two parts: residential and business district. According to our driver, who was also trying to sell us on his services (remember, everyone has a hustle), as long as we used the business district and stayed clear of the residential areas, then we would be safe.

4: A few minutes later, we pulled up to the school. There was a security guard that met us there. I told him my name and he eventually found the key to my apartment and instructed the driver on how to get to the Trematon House. Upon our arrival, there were three people leaving out of the front of the building. I stopped them and introduced myself as I figured they must also be exchange students. There were 2 girls and one guy. The girls were from Italy (Melly) and Chicago (Jazmine) and the guy was from Barcelona (Jean Christopher). They were on their way to grab dinner and said we were welcomed to join them. Since Dena had seen the restaurants on our way in and said it wasn’t too far of a walk, we agreed. We got our bags and came into the Trematon House to find my apartment: #2.

5: I can’t say that I was excited to see where I would be spinning the next 6-8 weeks of my life. Not that it was dirty or small, it just wasn’t what I was used to. I tried to keep reminding myself that I was no longer in Kansas, but it was becoming a hard pill to swallow. The entrance into my apartment began with a small area that would turn out to be the kitchen/wide hallway. To the right was my bathroom which consisted of a toilet, sink, and a very spacious walk-in shower. At the end of the hall was the entrance into my bedroom. The bedroom was much larger than I expected. It has a bookshelf on the wall behind the door, a desk on the adjacent wall, a single twin bed and an eating area which also had my television on top of the table. MY HUMBLE ABODE!

6: My Housemates!!! Jasmine, Roland, Tiffany, Chantal, Melania, GiGi, Suzanna, Jean-Stephane, & Jasenth

10: Big Happy Family!!!

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  • By: Kiyanda P.
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  • Title: South Africa!
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