Friday, January 24, 2014

Week one, done!

     It’s official, I’ve survived not only my first week as a student teacher, but also my first week in South Africa!!! Everyone was right, it goes by quick. I’ve never been to a beach in America before, but I’d imagine that this city is very similar to one there. Sometimes things don’t feel that different here, except for when I am in school.  I am in a grade one classroom and I have 24 lovely students. The first difference I noticed was that a classroom library was missing. There is one bookcase in the room, and if I had to guess there are probably less than 30 books sitting on the shelves. Their school day is much shorter than ours. Grade R (which we would call kindergarten) gets out a noon, grade 1 and grade 2 are done at 12:50. Once you are in grade 3 you have to stay in school until two and high school stays until 2:30. My roommate and I think they have such short school days because they don’t have a long summer break like we do. Despite difference in academics, kids are kids anywhere you go and I am in love with my entire class. I know I still have five more weeks, but I’m already sad knowing I will have to say goodbye. Some of the phrases they use are a bit different than what your typical American child would say. On the first day of school, a child was completing a paper and told me, “I hope that my parents are pleased with my work.” It's just so adorable, you would never find an American child that speaks that properly. 

     Going into this experience, I was worried about not being able to understand their accents, but it never occurred to me that they wouldn’t be able to understand mine. The way they pronounce their ‘e’ and ‘a’ sound is especially different.  On the first day, one student told me, “Your language is weird.” My roommates are from/go to school in Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama, so we’ve discovered that my accent is even different from theirs. I never realized I was such a northerner until now. People seem to pick us out as Americans very easily here. It must be something about the way we dress or carry ourselves, because some locals have told us that it’s not our accent that gives us away.

     Although there are times I miss everyone from home, I am too in love with it here to be homesick. This city just gets me. Most of the time people walk around barefoot (perfect because who hates shoes more than this girl?), even to the grocery store and out to dinner!!! I also love that the grocery store, restaurants, my school, and the beach are within walking distance. I think it's such a hassle to have to get in a car and find a parking space, so I am all about the convenience of being able to walk to my destination. It would be helpful to have a car to get to some of the cooler sites outside the city, but we can call a cab and the Freewalker's adventure crew for that. Everyone here is so laid back and relaxed, I could really get used to this way of life. Since I get out of school at 1 everyday, it's so nice being able to go hang out on the beach after school. Last week we even saw dolphins on the beach! I about passed out from excitement since I have never seen one in real life before. I love how active the city is too. There are always people out swimming, surfing, biking, running, or walking, no matter what time of day it is. It's very motivating. 

     Last Sunday we went sandboarding in Sardinia Bay with Freewalker's, our first real adventure! It was amazing! It’s basically like snowboarding on sand, but way easier and it doesn’t hurt when you fall (which I did a lot of…). The beach was beautiful and the people were very friendly. We can't wait to plan another big adventure, but until then we are going to try and explore Summerstrand a little more this weekend and make a trip to the mall so we can buy more warm weather teacher clothes before the heat gets to unbearable in February. 

This is the beach at Sardinia Bay where we sandboarded. You can't tell here, but the sand dunes were really high!

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