Evan Segimoto – Bridge House School, South Africa
As my stay in South Africa has come to an end, I can proudly say that those six weeks were something I will never forget! It was such a great experience and very eye-opening. Before this trip I never knew what Afrikaans sounded like, what a township looked like, how delicious biltong (a better version of jerky) was, and how easily two people from completely different sides of the world could become friends so easily. Thanks to this exchange, I’ve been exposed to and learned lots of new things. I learned a lot about myself too. Not knowing what to expect, I figured that while on exchange I was going to be very quiet and keep to myself a lot, but it was the exact opposite. Because I was in an environment where I didn’t know anyone, I found myself being more energetic and open to new things than ever before.
If anyone is thinking about going on exchange in the future… I definitely recommend it! It’s such a great opportunity to learn and experience new things and meet new people. You may not realize it now, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t pass it up!
Two weeks ago, I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. As I walked out of customs I saw my exchange, Sidney Gray, standing there grinning ear-to-ear. I knew at that moment we were going to get along just fine. Since then, he’s kept me busy with sightseeing, running, hiking, studying, and hanging out with other students from Bridge House. Life outside of school is very similar to how it is in California. Every weekend a group of us will get together to hang out; but when I say “hang out” I don’t mean go to a movie or anything like that. Instead we all meet up at the café in town, order a coffee or hot chocolate, sit around the fire, and chat for a couple hours. It may sound boring and not a lot of fun, but everyone ends up having a lekka time.
This brings me to my next point, the slang. The slang here is quite interesting actually. Take the word “lekka” I used earlier. “Lekka” is the South African way of saying that something’s good, awesome, or incredible. It’s the South African equivalent to “chill.” You often hear it paired with the words “my china” (pronounced “ma chano”) which means the same thing as “bro.” There is plenty of other slang that I’ve heard and picked up while here, but those are the two major ones that everyone says.
Now, on to the school. The Bridge House School is different from Athenian, but similar in some ways. The biggest difference that I’m having trouble getting used to is calling the teachers “Ma’am” and “Sir.” This creates a definite line separating the students from teachers. To me it feels as if the teachers are there for learning purposes only, not to get to know the students. On the other hand, they do have a homeroom class everyday where a group of 10-15 students meet with a teacher. This class closely resembles our advisory meetings. They also have school-wide assemblies every Friday, which are similar to our morning meetings. But during their Friday assemblies they did something that I’ve never seen done before… they sang a song. It wasn’t just any song, it was their school song. It’ll take some time to get to know the words, but by the end of my stay I should know the song by heart.