Justin Armanino arrives in Cape Town

I arrived in Cape Town half a week before school started at Bridge House School. I arrived at night and my exchange, Adam, and his family greeted me as soon as I walked through customs. Right away we went out to Sea Point for dinner and I was already becoming part of their family. I don’t feel like I struggled to adjust to life too much, considering that Stellenbosch and Paarl are a lot like Danville and that Adam and I get along easily. There is one major difference that stood out to me, however, which was how far away everything is. In Danville, to get into town is barely a drive and effortless, but in Paarl Valley, you have to drive 15 to 20 minutes to get into town. Other than this, life is a lot like at home and was very easy to get used to.

Once I started school I realized just how different Bridge House is from Athenian. Athenian is a laid back school with a unique way of life. Everyday life at Bridge House is almost opposite to what I’m used to at Athenian. At home, we call every teacher by their first name (a trait of Athenian that I have become accustomed to), but at Bridge House every teacher is either Sir or Ma’am. Another odd thing is getting used to the uniform. Here the dress code is slacks, dress shoes, either the Bridge House polo or a dress shirt and a Bridge House tie, a sports coat or Bridge House jacket, and being cleanly shaven. I very much prefer Athenian’s lenient dress code, but I am starting to adjust to the uniform here.

Along with the very different way of life, kids here play different sports in their free time. To try and participate in a sport and to immerse myself in the Bridge House way of life, I joined Adam in playing field hockey, which isn’t offered at Athenian. Before coming to South Africa, I was vaguely aware of the sport, but had never seen it played or known any of the rules. Trying to join mid-season has been tough, but very fun.

One major thing that has stood out to me has been the people. I was a bit worried at first, considering I wasn’t from the country and I didn’t know how I would make new friends, but everything worked itself out quickly. By following Adam around, I met lots of kind people and everyone was very friendly. Everyone has been very helpful in showing me how to be a normal student at Bridge House. If I ever have any questions, I know I can ask anyone for help.

After these first two weeks, I have begun to work in all of my classes and start all of their assignments. The class that has been the most interesting has been French. I had never studied French before arriving at Bridge House, but I was immediately added to the class when they realized that I had no clue how to speak Afrikaans. It has been impossible trying to work with the class, so the teacher started me on some grade 8 textbooks. It has been fun to try something that I would never have the opportunity to do at home.

Overall, I am really enjoying Bridge House and I can’t wait for the next couple of weeks to come. I wish I was going to be here longer because of all of the fun I’ve been having.