Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two Parter: A tale and some answers

Part One: A day in the life of a South African Abby:

Twas the day before this, and all through the night,
an Abby was stirring, sleep put up a fight.
When at 7 o clock, a Patty came knocking,
she requested her room key, though neither felt like talking.
Then much to that aforementioned Abby's dismay,
sleep had entirely fleeted away.
So up she did rise and to the kitchen she went.
She made herself some breakfast feeling tired and spent.
She had plans for the morning and knew she much go,
for the street kids of Africa needed her so.
She served food and smiles to the folks there in town,
feeling fulfilled and happy for spreading hope all around.
Next to a cafe with friends she settled down, ate, and talked.
Then on a rainy trip back to campus they all went and walked.
Happy because her new pashmina kept her dry
while the rain here was falling straight down from the sky.
Next this dear Abby watched a movie with Pat.
Then met for a house warming party to chat.
All of the girls in the building were so crazy and funny,
it didn't seem bad that outside was not sunny.
After the dorm warning party was through,
Abby went to the bars with a friend here or 2.
They had so much fun, until way too late in the night.
Staying awake for this sleepy Abby was indeed quite a fight.
Then at last she found her way back to bed.
Good night dear South Africa was the day's last words said.

bahahaha. I actually had no intention of writing that all in rhyme, but hopefully it was enjoyable. I suppose that does about sum up my day though. ha.

Part 2: Question and Answer time with Linda & Abby Rich.
My mother wrote me an email with a bunch of questions about South Africa. I'll answer them here so that you all can know too.

Q: What things do you hear people say as common forms of language there that they don't say here. Do they use British terms for things?
A: Good question mom. Well people here do talk differently. They say things like "cheers" and call their friends "mate." There are a lot of different accents because people here speak a lot of different African dialects. However, all classes are taught in English. English is also the main spoken language on campus. The other two that are common though is isuZulu, which in this region is the most prevalent. (I am trying to learn a few words. Sabona (sp?) means "hello.") The other is spoken primarily by whites and it is called Affrikans. 

Q: What do people wear?
A: People here dress quite similarly to the way they do back home. The main difference I've noticed is in the jeans males wear, which to me look pretty goofy. The dress is pretty standard to warm weather places, particularly to the way people dressed when I lived in Arizona. However, you will not ever see people wearing sweats to class. People dress up here for class, not necessarily fancy but not pajamas. I also found that to be pretty true though when I lived in Arizona.

Q: What about products - did you find the same shampoos, toothpaste, etc. Does the coke taste the same? Is it in cans or bottles? Any interesting approaches to packaging or things in restaurants that are different in terms of serving?
A: Some of the products are the same for shampoos and toothpaste and other toiletries. I've seen tresseme and Pantene Pro-V however these are more expensive than the local brands. 
Coke does not taste the same here. It is a lot sweeter tasting. I have seen it in both cans and plastic bottles. However, I am rather particular about my diet coke so I haven't been drinking any of that here. I mostly only drink water. With the obvious exception of beer every once in a while. :)
Packaging in grocery stores is all done in plastic bags. However, these plastic bags are the STRONGEST plastic bags ever and never rip regardless of how heavy the load is. 
In restaurants it is entirely acceptable to ask them to package up leftovers to go, which I know was not custom when I was in France. The way food is served is similar so far as I can tell. Except you must ask for more water if you want it, they won't just refill it. That is actually true of pretty much all restaurant service here. It is not like in the US where the waiter will come check on you every so often to see how you're doing. If you want something you must flag them down and ask. 

Q: What are the main foods people eat? Do they have fast foods? Fast food restaurants?
A: The main foods people eat here. Hmm... lots of Indian foods. There are little carts all over campus that sell Rotis, Curries, burgers, ect. Chicken burgers are really really common here. In fact, I'd say they make up a large portion of my diet. Chicken in general is huge here. What else? Vegetarian options are WAYYY better here than they are back home. There are so many options and substitutes, and not like the gross substitutes back home, they're really great here. With the exception of chicken, I haven't eaten barely any meat at all. Which, I suppose isn't too different for me from back home.
Oh, also Braai meet is HUGE here. (Braais, for those of you just joining us- :) can most closely be described as similar to American barbeque's.) They grill brisket and there is a very distinct braai sauce that is used. Though this is quite similar to how bbq's happen back home, I'd say they are WAY more common here. People braai constantly.
Yes. There is definitely fast food. Lots and lots of fast food. Aside from the vendors on campus which is food you get fast, there are many fast food restaurants. KFC is HUGE here. There are KFCs everywhere. Also, they have a "restaurant" called Steers which I would equate to like McDonald's or Burger King. There is also a place called Debonairs which serves pizzas and hot subs.
Lastly, the place that is the biggest here is called Nando's which is a chain restaurant that specializes in chicken but also has other options as well. This is a higher quality one, and though the food is relatively fast I would compare it to like a Panera. 

Q: Modes of transportation? You mentioned the roads are "take your life in your hands." How do you get around? How do locals get around?
A: There are vans called Mini Buses which is the cheapest way to get around and the way that most Zulu people travel. These are the fast moving dangerous vehicle that I previously mentioned. I use these whenever I am going into town or to the beach. However, you can only use them before 6:00pm and they do not go everywhere, they have pre-determined routes.
Otherwise there is bus transportation which I have only used a couple times.
Mostly if I am going out at night or want to go anywhere other than the beach or town I take a cab which is also pretty cheap. Definitely not as cheap as the mini buses (which is 8 or 5 Rand each way - about 1 dollar US) but still quite reasonable. Last night when I shared a cab back with a girl from a pretty far away bar it cost us each 35 Rand- 5 US dollars.

Well, this blog seems sufficiently long and makes up for my lack of blogging in the past. 
If any of you have more questions definitely ask them. It makes this experience much easier for me. 


  1. Hahaha love this Abby!!!

  2. Abby:
    This is a great blog and thanks for sharing. I printed out a "large print" version for Grandma. Ellen

  3. Thanks for blogging Abby! It's so neat to hear about what you are up to! I agree with what you previously said, more photos! :)