Jonathan Victorino arrives in South Africa

I arrived in Johannesburg about three weeksIMG_0508 ago. Even though it is supposed to be winter, it was warmer when I arrived here than when I left California. One of the first surprises was when the power went out for several hours. This load shedding happened several more times during the next couple of weeks, and most people blame their government for it. Another thing that stood out to me was that every single building has some sort of fence around it. The nicer developments have electric wires and security guards at the entrances because of the large amount of crime.

UniformWhen I got to Saint Stithian’s, I noticed one of the major differences was the uniform we have to wear. We have to wear a blazer, tie, trousers, and dress shoes, whereas at Athenian we can wear whatever we want. Also, classes are much different from Athenian. At the start of each class, students have to stand until the teacher says “good morning”, which the students reply either “good morning, sir” or “good morning, ma’am” before sitting down. Classes are structured much more around lectures and the focus of the class is for preparing for the test.

IMG_0532Saint Stithian’s is very focused on athletics. Everyone is required to play two sports a year: one sport for each season, winter and summer. Rugby is the main sport here and there are compulsory matches when entire school is required to attend the first team’s game. There are 18 different rugby teams at Saint Stithian’s and each team has a little more than 15 people. I tried to play rugby, but wasn’t the greatest because I was smaller than most people on the team.

IMG_0528During the week I live in the dorms with my exchange Luke, Oliver (another Athenian student), and his exchange Kellan. My normal day begins at 6:00, with room inspection at 6:30, roll call at 6:40, and breakfast right after. The first class begins at 7:25, followed by chapel at 8 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with house chapel on Tuesdays and Leadership on Thursdays. The second class starts immediately after that and is followed by break. After break there are three more classes and then lunch at 1:20. After lunch is the sixth and last class of the day, followed by sports. The second roll call is at 5:45 and is immediately followed by dinner. After dinner is prep, where students have quiet time to do homework; prep starts at 6:45 and lasts for two hours. Then a final roll call and free time until 10:00, which is lights out.

So far I have really enjoyed my time in South Africa. I am looking forward to traveling some around the country and experiencing more of the culture.