Justine del Monte – South Africa

Justiine 1I’m currently attending the Bridge House School in South Africa and living with my exchange, Ella. I’ve been here for about two weeks, and here is a little overview of my adventure so far.

My first two weeks in South Africa have been filled with gorgeous African sunsets, lots of local slang, and an obsessive amount of pictures. Originally I thought I would be incredibly nervous during the beginning of my journey, but as I’ve slowly gotten used to using celsius and converting the local currency to US Dollars, living here has actually been quite comforting. I’m living in a small town about an hour away from Cape Town, called Franschhoek. It’s basically Justiine 5like Napa Valley, but with giant African mountains and these things called “townships”. These townships are the definition of culture shock for many tourists like myself. Townships are underdeveloped communities that are hard to miss, and are definitely a daily reminder that I am no longer in California. Being in Franschhoek Valley makes it very easy to forget that I’m living on an entirely different continent, but every time I drive past the townships or learn more about the history of the apartheid government here in South Africa, I am reminded of the privileges I have from living in the Bay Area.

While I still can’t quite grasp that I’m literally living in Africa and that I’m thousands of miles away from my friends and family, so far exchange has been an amazing experience. I’m living on Ella’s farm, where her family has made efforts to preserve the history of the area. I’ve explored the small town of Franschhoek, visited the local college town of Stellenbosch, and driven down to the main city of Cape Town. We’ve walked all around the city, exploring vintage stores and cute little cafes. Justine 2This past weekend we even visited Table Mountain, which was incredibly surreal and probably one of the prettiest views I will ever see. During the week I’ve attempted to play netball, an interesting version of basketball, and I even tried learning one of the eleven languages of South Africa called Afrikaans. All of the activities I’ve done have been incredible and have given me the chance to immerse myself in my new South African world, Justine 3but my favorite part of my adventure so far has been getting to spend time with my exchange and her family and friends.

Living in this new environment has allowed me to learn about myself and others in a way I didn’t think was possible in such a short amount of time. Of course I still can’t pronounce all of the local slang, and I probably will never fully learn how to play netball, but I am so excited for the next couple of weeks ahead me.

Justine 4