Helen Thompson in South Africa – Week 2

It has officially been a full week for me here at the Stanford Lake College! I am enjoying school here despite its differences.

A typical school day here goes like this: I get up at 6:25 and get dressed.  Some days I wear the Stanford uniform and some days I wear casual clothes. A quick breakfast of toast, coffee and cereal from 6:45 to 7:00. Back to hostel for room inspection and to get my backpack ready. Classes start at 7:30 but most days we have mentor, which is basically advisory, or an all-school meeting in the amphitheater. After that there are 4 classes before tea. During tea there are sandwiches, tea and coffee served in the dining hall, as well as snacks sold at the “tuck” shop. Then there are two more classes before lunch. Here they eat lunch at around 1:30 and only have half an hour to eat and do clean up crew. Typically there is one or two classes after lunch depending on the day. After school there are sports practices for either hockey or netball, rugby, mountain biking or adventure. Dinner for girls is at 5:45 and for boys at 6:15. Then back to hostel before 6:30, otherwise you may get locked out. At 7:00 the first Prep period starts; Prep is an hour long block where you have to be in your room doing homework. At 8:00 there is a break, then the second Prep period. Quiet time starts at 9:30. Repeat the next day.

At Stanford we have six classes every day and on some days seven. On Wednesdays and Fridays, school gets out early, and often there are sports matches.  Last Thursday, after school I went to netball practice. Netball is basically like basketball except you can’t dribble or move with the ball. There is a lot of passing and when someone is shooting the goal defender’s feet have to be at least 3 feet away from the shooter. I’m still getting the hang of it. Because it is the beginning of term, at practice we did a lot of conditioning, which they call “fitness.” Friday there was a netball match, which we won. The teams are split into first team (Varsity), second team (JV), under 16s, under 15s, under 14s, etc.

Over the weekend, I stayed with my host’s aunt’s house in Tzaneen, which is 45 minutes away from school. We did homework and watched TV and chilled at home for most of the time. On Saturday I went with Chikho’s cousin Fezi to the mall in Tzaneen. It was fairly similar to our malls at home, pretty crowded, with lots of shops and people, but because it was the weekend all the shops closed at 3:00 in the afternoon. On Sunday there was a scheduled power outage, so we didn’t do much until the power came on at 5:00.

Monday we woke up extra early in order to drive to school on time. My new roommate, Arshia, who is also an exchange, arrived. She is from the Vivek School in India. Monday after school was another netball lesson, it was hot hot hot and we did fitness on the upper field.  Needless to say, I was sore on Tuesday. On Tuesday I had my first culture period. Culture is like an elective period and I chose to do Debate. We got the motion and discussed the topic, which was essentially Black Economic Empowerment. On Wednesday, I left school early to go to the debate. We drove to a library in another town and debated against one of the schools there. It was really cool, even though I didn’t completely understand the topic as it was very specific to South Africa.

I can’t wait to see more of South Africa, especially on the Round Square Conference I will be going to next week!