I arrived in Johannesburg a week before school started and was greeted at the airport by my exchange, Tshepang, and his family. Immediately, we went to get food at a restaurant called Tasha’s, which is pretty popular here in South Africa. A couple of things I noticed about “Joburg” upon my arrival is how “western” the town is and how many Mercedes-Benz’s there are. Tshepang took me to the Nelson Mandela Centre and we toured the rest of the plaza. I would suggest doing research about South Africa’s history before you come, especially Nelson Mandela and apartheid. The history is quite deep and you will most likely talk about it a few times during exchange. You are bound to go to at least one mall while you are in South Africa. I’ve been here for two weeks and I’ve already been to four different malls. I think coming a few days before school started really helped me get acclimated to the culture in South Africa.
I came to Stanford Lake on a Monday evening to move into the boarding house with my exchange. The first night was pretty interesting because they asked all the new students, including the exchanges, to stand on a table and tell about ourselves and either sing a song or tell a few jokes. As far as I know, this is only a tradition for the male boarding house, Founders. I was amazed by the hospitality shown by all of the boys. It was surprising when everyone said “hello sir,” but it didn’t take long to get used to the formalities.
Unlike Athenian, Stanford Lake has a very strict schedule for its boarders. You can only shower between 6:00 to 6:35 am or 5:00 to 5:40 pm. They lock the doors at 7:15 am and you are penalized if you leave late. Starting school at 7:30 am was the hardest thing to adjust to. The plus side is there are many activities to participate in during the day. The schedule is similar to ours at Athenian in that there are short periods and long periods. The main difference is that you might have a class for a short period in the morning and have another short period of the same class in the afternoon.
Soon after my arrival at Stanford Lake, my exchange started introducing me to people around campus. The people I’m closest to are the three exchanges from Australia, the two other people besides my exchange that I room with, and the other boys in the Founder’s boarding house. Everyone at Stanford Lake is so nice and they treat the exchanges like royalty. They’ve definitely made me feel at home this past week, so the adjustment was a lot easier than it could have been. It can be overwhelming at times, but you get used to it.
While I’ve been here, I’ve been able to take some pretty interesting classes, including business and visual arts. My exchange, another student and I are doing an art project about “white-washing”. The assignment is to do an art project that portrays a contemporary issue in South Africa, their local community, or the school.
I have been able to participate in a couple of the rugby practices and today I played an actual game of cricket for the first time in P.E. Both of these sports are pretty interesting and I enjoyed playing them.
Overall, I am loving Stanford Lake and can’t wait to do more of the school’s activities. I am very thankful for the experience.