Dear Mom,

I know you went to have your MRI today and all those fun tests. And I know you were probably nervous and scared but being all like “no big deal, whateva, just another day in the life of Donna,” but Mom, I was freaked out enough for the both of us. And I have called you twice in the past hour, and you have not answered your phone. Mother, this is upsetting me. I am going to need you to answer your phone so that you can tell me that everything went great, that it was like a day in the park (a rather bleak one, but still) and that you will live to be 947. I will not be truly calm or happy or able to breathe quite normally until you tell me these things.

So the moral of my story is – I love you – a lot.  And, well, answer your phone!!!

Love,

Cyndi

Published in: on February 29, 2008 at 11:56 pm  Comments (2)  

Let the adventures begin…

I’ve rambled about the train a good bit….. so let me tell you about the actual weekend of last.

Alana, Cassidi, Briana, Clair, and I had planned to go to Cape Town for the weekend– spend some time at the beach, shop, maybe climb Table Mountain. We found out on Friday, though, that the bus thing we had heard about to get into CT was going to be way more expensive than we had bargained for. We called around to see if there were any cars for hire left in Stellenbosch, but nothing… So we figured we’d just figure out something local to do on Saturday. Saturday we sat around bored for hours, trying to figure out what to do. And Alana talked to one of her friends, who was going into Cape Town for the afternoon/night and said they had three spots left if we wanted to come. So we had 45 minutes to get ready for this ridiculously random trip. There were about 14 people total who went – the other students we were with are all part of a group that is here from the University of California-Davis. They were celebrating two birthdays in their group. So we found ourselves on a 6k walk (about 3 miles) to the train station. We had no idea what we had signed up for… haha We got the train station, and I was just stoked. I was like… now this is an adventure! 🙂 You’ve read far too much about the train… so I’ll skip that part… we got into Cape Town… and the train – seriously – cost less than a dollar!! We walked around for a while until we found the hostel they had booked.

It’s called Blue Mountain Backpackers. Seriously a wonderful first hostel experience.

blue-mountain.jpg

That’s the place! It was pretty cute. For R90 per person, we stayed in these awesome rooms – I mean, awesome for a hostel. Clean, nice, dorm style. It’s also on Long Street, a very… famour (or infamous?) street we’ve been told since we got here that we have to spend time on. It’s just this long street (haha) that has the best clubs and bars and restaurants and night life in general.

After we got there we settled in, changed and left for dinner. We ate at this place called Mesopotamia. We ate food there that looked like this:

meso.jpg

and this –

potamia.jpg

on the plus side, there was eye candy … like this…

mesoeye.jpg

(who was raised buddhist by the way, which is fascinating and is like… smart. smart mcdreamy eye candy. now that gets a yum!)

anyway.

so it was kurdish food? perhaps. middle eastern in general i guess. everyone RAVED about how great it was… but i think we can all see that it wasn’t exactly my favorite meal i’ve had since i’ve been here. but the experience was awesome. we sat on the ground… and i tried several things… not maybe a LOT of things… but several. 🙂

after that we went out and celebrated their birthdays. we went to an irish pub called Dubliners and the most noteworthy thing about that experience were the SINGERS!! Oh my goodness – they had this ‘band’ or something.. just this guy playing guitar and this girl singing, and it was amazing. They were singing a lot of popular american songs and some 80s (WOOO!) and I think they were better than the originals a lot of the times. And this is the amazing Dream Team singers:

greatness.jpg

They may not look like much, but they were freaking rock stars 🙂

After that, all the shenanigans began… and craziness ensued.. .and my mother (love you, mom) would probably lecture me if I detailed that part, so I’ll just leave you with a few of the (nice) pictures. 🙂

eye-candy.jpg
*dreamy sigh* he really is my McDreamy…… hahaha

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The American flag!! We saw it on top of this building, along with a bunch of other different country flags… and we got so excited haha it’s been so long that we’re stoked to see even a symbol of America!

and finally…randomcar.jpg

yeah… cars park in the middle of the road in cape town apparently. we stared at it in disbelief for a solid, like, five seconds.

so that was last weekend. it was awesome. adventurous, fun, exciting. it was finally… yeah – adventurous. i like adventure.

this weekend Alana and I are off to Cape Pride!! I know you’re all STOKED… haha but I AM stoked. It’s the annual Cape Town Gay Pride Festival… tomorrow is the last day of it I believe… so the parade is tomorrow and a big carnival. It’s going to be awesome, and I will definitely have stories/pictures for you afterwards!

peace!
-Cyndi

Published in: on February 29, 2008 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Angel in the House

    I’m relatively well read, and that feels great – more than great, it feels significant. I sit in these classes here at Stellenbosch, and I’ve read these novels before that these students are just encountering; I’ve read and studied the words of those authors just quoted in class. In English 318 our professor read part of Virginia Woolfs, “A Room of One’s Own.” She briefly explained its significance to the world of literature and to the feminist literary canon. Pieces of what she read I could still see highlighted in my book 8000 miles away; I could still feel the excitement and empowerment that filled me when I first read it. Several of the quotes from that Woolf piece even decorate my own facebook quote board.

     I’ve been caught in a limbo between wanting graduate school and the real world, excited at both, anxious for the latter. I’ve needed some concrete proof that my many years of education, my hundreds of hours spent reading and writing, my countless hours of fretting over money and working to pay it all, mean something, that they will transform into a career path, a life of fulfillment and joy (and money). Understanding this morning, in that one brief moment, that I am competent and well-read, able to keep up with professors even outside the prescribed texts, when I’m still just a student myself, provided me with that ounce of proof and encouragement I’ve been needing and searching for. 

    I like the feeling of knowing literature, of understanding my legacy as a woman in the tradition of writing/rhetoric, or arguing meaning and symbolic understanding with the most intelligent around me. I love to write, too, and I want to be a part, a contributor to the world of the rhetoric of women writers, but in order for me to contribute as fully and intelligently as I potentially can, and in order to use my writing to really make a difference in our world, I need more of this education. 

    The real world really will always be there. And, at the end of the day, I want that PhD in my hands. I want the confidence (and paycheck) I hope it brings. So while my friends are finding their footing in new cities, with new apartments, and cute new bathroom rugs, I’m going to swallow that envy and remember that for me, right now, at this place in my life, I want more of what I’m doing — I love the education, and one day, probably all too soon, I too will pick a new city, with a new job, a new bathroom, and of course, new bathroom rugs. 

Published in: on February 27, 2008 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Let’s dialogue about important issues, guys!”

I pulled out a notebook on the train, the train that we’ve been warned time and again to not travel on, the train that is “sketchy” and “impoverished” and where, as white Americans, we’d stick out sorely. They warned us against it because they fed us an unspoken message of, “when you’re white it’s better to just live in the protected bubble of being seen as middle to upper class; it’s better to stay away from that which you don’t know.” We took the train because it was cheap, less than a dollar from Stellenbosch to Cape Town. We took the train because sometimes being uncomfortable is the best way to learn about a culture, learn to survive on your own, learn to be an individual that doesn’t allow society or stereotypes or cultural conflict to dictate your identity. We took the train and identified as students studying here, wanting to spend the weekend in Cape Town. People looked at us curiously, not menacingly. We were smart– didn’t wear flashy jewelry and take out iPods. We sat fairly quietly, and when we talked we talked about general things, not of the conveniences of our culture back home, the luxuries we have on campus. And I found myself overwhelmed at this adventure, this crazy venture into a part of the culture here that I haven’t been privileged enough to see yet. And I wanted to write it, to think it, to remember it. So the nerd in me took out my notebook and looked down the row of seats where the group of more than a dozen of us sat, and filled with excitement I said,

Let’s dialogue about important issues, guys!” (I could still hear the groans of my 7th grade peers going… oh god… what is she getting us into THIS time…)

And I started writing, wrote the first line and passed it down.

And this… is the transcript of what came out on our first train experience in South Africa.

Date: 23 February 2008

1: I wonder if we could make the train into a dance party – everyone hittin’ the (platform) floor…

2: Notice how you wrote your date? Transforming into an Afrikaaner?

1: Just trying to assimilate to a culture – plus, we speak the slang (tief, ek sow yo snay!), so why not write the date? 🙂 …everyone is looking at us – as if they’re suspicious. Even when we’re quiet, not flashy, we stand out like a sore thumb – white, carrying bags as though noting to everyone that we have belongings to take with us, enough privilege to be able to worry about things like hygiene and our looks.

2: First off, wasn’t this supposed to be just one line?

1: Looking like you’re not freaked out is the best plan [written while motioning to one girl who is making terrified faces and squirming and generally calling attention to her nervous, uncomfortable self]

3: (girl that is uncomfortable) It’s all in my head. I am just freaked out. I’m a minority right now. Ah!

1: I think it feels good. We live in a world where even when white is a minority, it’s the elite group. It feels nice, for once, to be put out of that comfort zone. I hate living in the bubble of pre-determined “superiority.” It’s bull–

2: Maybe bull—, but it’s comfort. I like/prefer comfort. I do realize how we are viewed and what benefits we get as being white. What can I personally do to change that? As in any society no one can truly be equal. You can make small differences in your day to day life with the people you encounter. Beyond that I can’t do enough.

3: I like that. So… I’m excited for dinner. tonight will be a good night. I’m not so scared anymore.

4: Despite how much time we’ve spent here [in Stellenbosch], I still feel like a tourist, being white and all. I wish we could all be the same color (I know, it’s a little naive). Especially after visiting the township. Have you been yet?

5: Your head is making my head crazy.

6: Galen’s a strange one…

3: Our ride is coming to an end. Hooray. Thank the Lord. I could go for a nap now. I’m a bit sleepy. O man, us girls are getting crunk tonight!

7: Yes, for sure dawg.

3: The woman across from me — her hair looks like a sea urchin — from the Little Mermaid (don’t look up!)

2: Love the Little Mermaid!! Watched it a few weeks before I left. I was Ariel when I was little in the pool and the bathtub and the creek (total Dub-V right there!). …. hey I’m pretty sure we were supposed to be really talking about real issues.

1: eh. the transgression from race relations in south africa to getting ‘crunk’ to the little mermaid – i mean, i think we hit ALL the important issues in life!

and thus concludes the story of what happens when 13 students on a train try to talk about serious issues in a notebook.

or better – what happens when a nerd is on the loose on a fun weekend trip with a bunch of fellow college students 🙂

Published in: on February 26, 2008 at 12:30 am  Comments (1)  
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(real) train thoughts

Just a bit of writing I did on the train last weekend. For some context — Alana, Cassidi, and I ended up going with a group of about 10 students from UC-Davis that are studying here this term (they leave in like three weeks I think) to Cape Town Saturday afternoon and we came back Sunday morning. They were celebrating two birthdays in their group, and in a whirlwind of craziness, we found ourselves, 45 minutes after hearing about the trip, showered, packed, and on our way to the train station. It was a crazy adventure of a weekend that I’ll detail later when I can put pictures with it. For now, though – yeah, these are just a couple of random bits and pieces that I wrote after we finished passing my notebook around.

 ******************************

3. Across: A Four-Letter Word for Difference, Tolerance, and Acceptance.

A woman sits across from me with a crossword puzzle open on her lap, a dictionary open on top of it. She’s wearing a light blue button down up top and black slacks. She has the disheveled look of a woman who’s long been working, weary from hours on her feet. She sinks into her small train seat because exhaustion demands it, but there’s a certain determination about her that makes even the dark circles under her eyes appear full of diligence, hope and promise.
A group of us students, 13 in number, look around us on the train, uncomfortable in each our own ways – we are outsiders in this world. We see that which we do not know, cannot know, a look of poverty and despair that fills us foremost with pity and fear.
But I watch the woman across from me, looking up word after word in the dictionary, filling in bubbles on her puzzle, and I feel no fear or apprehension. This is but another sector of another culture, another way of life, that I have the privilege to experience, if even for a 40 minute train ride.
The biggest loss, the biggest fear of mine, truly, is that this will be our only meeting – our culture and hers, theirs – that we’ll never get a chance to exchange greetings and understand each other as individuals, rather than merely by the clothes we wear, the accents we pronounce our words with, and the colors of our skin.

**************************

Hallelujah, Praise Jesus

“Hallelujah, Praise God,” two women, fragile as they are soft-spoken, sing as they enter the train. They traverse the length of our car, back and forth once, then twice. The leading woman, middle-aged and gentle in countenance, holds a mug, a simple yellow coffee mug. In it must be beads or change, and they strike a beat with it as they continue to lift their voices upwards, “praise God,” and “hallelujah.” The second woman, younger perhaps, is blind, her eyes permanently fixed upwards, a peace encompassing her distant eyes and easy features. She holds lightly the arm of the woman in front, trusting wholly, her faith leading her and filling her. Her music seems to define her, and the women bring the car to near silence. I find myself beginning to hum, “hallelujah,” quietly, in tune with them. I half expect the car to keep beat with them, to join in their serenity, their exaltation, but although quieted, no one raises their voices in joining. The two singing women, lovers of their God, are gone now, gone as fast as they came, gone before I could finish describing them and their solitude, their quiet, yet vocal hope for more. Their song seemed more than worship, it seemed filled with honest pleas to a heavenly Father.

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

everything but the penguin s*x

(Authors Note: The author, upon much consideration, has decided that penguin s*x would be inappropriate content for this family and friends friendly site. However, if you would like to see rather hilarious pictures of all the penguin s*x, feel free to email the site content manager at cyndi.s.waite@gmail.com, and said pictures will be sent immediately. Thank you, and all complaints should be directed to http://www.johnmccain.com)

(Authors Note pt.2: hahahahhahahahahahaha….get it? …get it? That was a funny political joke. The author is chuckling).

Here are the much-awaited (by BOTH of you reading this site!) and anticipated and wanted and neeeeded pictures of the Wine Tour from last weekend, along with the Cheetah, Zebra, and Penguin sitings! Enjoy 🙂

wine-tour.jpg
From the first winery we went to… all the views are just… breathtaking. The wine wasn’t too bad, either!

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Cassidi and me — I think this was our first or second wine they gave us to taste. It’s pretty cool – you go into these wineries and for R20 or R30 ($3-$4) you try up to six or seven of their signature wines, and they give you some history on each wine and how it’s made. They usually also have cheese or meat to cleanse the palate – this place had salami.

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Alana, me, Cassidi — after the tasting, we had some time to explore the place – walk through the vineyards. So you know we took the time to take pictures of ourselves haha

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Goat Tower! This is at Fairfield (Fairview? one of those). This tower was so cool… we could see the youngens sticking their heads out… and the goats were lounging about in their, sticking their necks out or their backsides out to get some sun.

me.jpg
Right outside the restaurant in the winery (the Fairview place).

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Two of the cub cheetahs… I think they’re called cubs… Anyway, they were just too adorable all cuddled up together. We saw the cheetahs at the last winery we went to — Spier.

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Meet Joseph the Cheetah — He is one handsome cheetah! The best part.. .was after we had been with him for a while, petting and asking questions about him and the cheetah park and about cheetah endangerment in general, we started hearing him purr — even when we stood up, we could still hear him. Cheetahs are big cats, but it’s hard to think of them like that… until they’re lounged out, relaxed, and purring over being petted. I got tight with Joseph – he was one cool cat 🙂

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Also taken at Spier… before the cheetahs…

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As we were on our way back to campus from the wine tour, we definitely saw these random zebras….. and they say wild animals don’t roam the streets of Africa… HA! I have been looking for solid proof that they do since I’ve been here, and um I’m going to take this! Hopefully you can see them and tell what they are. And I suppose technically they’re within a fenced in area or some sort… but still – random zebras!

bouldersbeach.jpg
The next day we hit up Cape Point/Boulders Beach/Cape of Good Hope. This is Boulders Beach – where there is a penguin colony. They have wooden walkways everywhere so you can walk around their colony. There are also places where you can just go to the beach. The entire area is absolutely gorgeous.

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Aren’t they cute?! This is one area where there were just tons of them. one of the funniest things to watch was the females digging holes to lay eggs. Man, they know how to KICK. That sand was flying up everywhere!

penguin1.jpg
This little guy was particularly cute… and rather photogenic 🙂

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I adore this image of Ms. Penguin lady (or mister I suppose) walking into the water… when they got in the water, I don’t have any other way to describe what they were like besides to say that they frolic. Oh man do they ever. They like actually embody and epitomize the entire idea of frolicing. We shall name her Francis and remember her as Frolicing Francis.

****

So that’s it for now. I know that was a LOT of pictures. The promised pictures of baboons will come soon… they’re on Cassidi’s camera.

Things are still swell. Cassidi and I discovered a Chinese restaurant earlier this week, noticed that they have a buffet menu every Friday night, and we hit that up tonight. Oh dear me oh my. We ate more food… than I even want to try to recall; it was heavenly. We also discovered the pool today, and as it seems to offer all our favorite things: pretty south african boys, sunshine, cool water, nearness to food, and the potential for exercise… (notice that just ‘exercise’ wasn’t on the list… just the potential makes us feel worked out)… we feel as though we may have found our place in this small Stellenbosch world. 🙂

There is another exciting thing (forgive me if I have mentioned this before). I wrote to the editor of the Cape Times, the major Cape Town newspaper, and inquired about writing for them as a freelance writer or an intern. I figured – it’s ballsy to just put it out there like that but trying never hurt. And in this case, trying succeeded! He emailed me back and said it’d be great if I want to freelance and gave me the email for the news editor. Now this sounds all great like sunshine and blueberries on butterflies, but I don’t really do news. In fact, I’ve never done news. So I emailed him back and asked for the arts editor’s email instead but I feel as though since I haven’t heard back from him, that *may* have been pushing my luck. So… I’m going to attempt it. The hardest part about freelancing is that you have to submit your own story ideas, and then the editor chooses whether or not to pick them up. Seeing as I don’t know the area, especially Cape Town, all that well, and I don’t do news, it’s challenging for me to come up with story ideas. So… if any of you hears anything interesting in the news – international or whatever – they cover everything – that I might be able to pick up and do more on – definitely let me know. I’ll need all the ideas I can get!

Thanks for tuning in!

peace-
cyndi

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 2:43 am  Comments (2)  

lion-king.jpg
Driving back to Stellenbosch from Cape Town… it looked just like an image out of the Lion King or something… the clouds covered the mountains, and you could see just the peaks sticking out. It was gorgoues – hope this does it some justice.

first-year-prank.jpg
This statue of this guy (and I should probably know who the guy is…) is on campus – right outside the Neelsie, the student center. A bunch of the first years apparently painted his buttocks blue one night haha It stayed this way for at least a week. It was definitely humorous. Apparently being a first year here is much like the American system of pledging a sorority/fraternity – they do all kinds of crazy stuff, are woken up at 6am every morning for a week to rehearse these dances and practice for these races. At the end of it there’s a big thing called Carnival where they all perform. Afterwards, it’s like they’re “initiated” and they can finally go out downtown and drink and party. Pranks like these are pretty common.

view-from-bridge.jpg
There’s a big over-the-road bridge on campus. This is the view walking across it… one part of campus and the mountains in the background. Can you tell they’re driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road?!

roommate-pic.jpg
Not sure why this one is so small… but this is Jen, my roommate. We’ve ended up not exactly being best friends but she’s cool and we’re friendly. She hangs out with a group of girls who have uh… proven to be pretty catty and exclusive. Not really my cup of tea, but I do enjoy Jen. She’ s nice.

alana-and-me.jpg
Weird -this one is small too. Oh well 🙂 Alana and me… we played with it on photoshop… had some fun, and it turned out cute. So I figured I’d share 🙂

More pictures to come once I get them loaded on my computer! (including cheetahs and penguins and babooooooooons!!)

Published in: on February 18, 2008 at 11:00 pm  Comments (1)  

penguins and baboons and cheetahs, oh my!

i. am. exhausted.

it has been one heck of a weekend — an amazing weekend.

Thursday night we had a braai here at Concordia, where a lot of the international students live. A Valentine’s braai. They got food and drinks for everyone, and we all just grilled out, danced, met new people, and had a good time.

So Saturday and today we had different tours we went on with ISOS — the International Student Organization of Stellenbosch. Yesterday we went on a wine tour… we went to three different wineries around Stellenbosch. There are over 70 JUST in Stellenbosch. Crazy huh? We had a great time, tasted good wines, but at the end of the day, we agreed that our cheap, sweet stuff is still so much better than the expensive, really dry stuff. We ate lunch at the second place — FYI – wineries are VERY expensive to eat at!! They did a fixed meal for us at a fixed price – so we got a “good deal” and even then we each payed R115 per person. It’s the equivalent of only about $18 but here – that’s a LOT of money, especially to spend on food. It was a great experience though. The meal consisted of like… these salad kind of things… it was like all these vegetables… and then there was a course of olives – seriously. a COURSE of OLIVES. haha And there was bread. And then like antipasti – different meats and different cheeses. All goat cheeses. It definitely wasn’t my style… but it was decent and it was good to try something new (did I just say that?! ha)

At the last place we went – Spier (biggest private wine maker… company… thing in South Africa), we had a chance to just wander around and see things. So you KNOW Cassidi and I went over to the CHEETAH PARK that’s there!! It was AWESOME. Apparently cheetahs ar ethe most endangered big cats in the world. So this place they have there is to raise money for awareness and protection of the cheetah. They’re expecting that unless something drastic changes, the cheetah will be extinct in 10 years, which is devastating. They are gorgeous, gorgeous animals. Not that beauty is everything, but hey… anyway. So we very willingly paid to pet and have a photo op with the cheetahs (er, um, i mean, save them haha). Seriously, though – it broke my heart to hear how few are left. On the other side, it was a fantastic photo-op. We got to pet Joseph, an adult cheetah. We took pictures with him and hung out… asked questions… learned all kinds of cool things. (pictures as soon as i can!)

Today we went down to Cape Point (www.capepoint.co.za). It’s the southernmost part of Africa. So we literally stood on the edge of the continent… and gazed towards Antarctica… haha It was amazing. We were halfway up this massive mountain. The view was spectacular. Before going up there we stopped at Boulder Beach, where there is a penguin colony, so we got to hang out with African penguins, which was amazing. They’re adorable little creatures. The view there was also incredible. We ate at Two Oceans, a restaurant in Cape Point that was… so delicious – by far the best food I’ve eaten since I’ve been here (not that I got anything really African… haha but still good). We had a couple hours to walk around and explore… so Cassidi and I decided to climb the rest of the mountain, and Alana, Briana and Clair decided to go down the mountain… we figured that way we’d cover the entire mountain and be able to see each others pictures of it all. It was a much harder climb than I thought it would be – pretty steep. The view from the top was breathtaking and so worth it, though. You could see other mountains in the distance, the ocean on either side of the mountain we were on… waves breaking everything… oh man it’s a sight i will never forget. Hopefully the pictures did it some justice — (again – pics ASAP!).

As we were driving back, we saw several flocks (gangs? groups?) of baboons. haha oh man it was awesome. They are much cuter than you would think, and their little butts are ADORABLE. They had all these little babies with them… it was very cool.

So that’s life these days. Things are going well. Saturday night we went out with some people we met at the braai. Really cool Afrikaaners. I’m really starting to find my place here. I’m feeling more and more at home every day. I haven’t seen a television in a month… and as much as its frustrating on lazy sundays when you want to do nothing but chill in front of the tv, it’s also a great feeling – being so disconnected. i only use my phone for texting the few people we hang out with here. it’s just nice – not being so dependent on the things we take for granted. we cook almost every night – we eat WAY too much pasta. as much as we walk and bike we keep thinking we should be losing so much weight, then we relaized we eat pasta almost every night. haha but it’s something familiar so we do it anyway 🙂

so thats it. hows everything at home? i’ve appreciated all the emails and updates! love you all!

peace!

Published in: on February 17, 2008 at 10:12 pm  Comments (1)  

comfortable? got popcorn? it’s looooong!

and then there were five!
All the girls! Clair is on the far left, I’m next to her, Cassidi is in the blue bending down, Briana is in pink standing, and Alana is on the far right!

Sorry peeps that it has been SO long!! Classes started and life is getting busy… things are getting into that much loved/hated routine. I’m taking 6 classes… so quite a lot… but I uh well, want to graduate at some point in my life haha I’m taking one of their graduate english courses and three of their other ones, a photography course, and a political science course. They’re going well so far… I’m a little frustrated because, honestly, I’m a little bored. It was a strange realization that I had one day in class that the American education system (at the university level) *may* just be better than many international ones. I say that i was surprised because, well, america isn’t exactly notorious for fantastic education. At least, well disciplined and globalized education.

SO i know most of you who read this know me pretty darn well, so I think you’ll all understand just how amazing life is for me at this exact moment in time when I tell you when I did tonight……

(are you guessing? in suspense?)

drum roll please

i went and did gymnastics!! hahaha seriously. it was amazing and the most intense workout of my entire life. i about passed out trying to ride my bike back. which, okay, isn’t good, but the point is that yeah they have a gymnastics team, but they’re much less…hardcore about it here than in the US, and so they open it up to anyone that wants to join, work out. There are coaches… it’s the real deal. the competition is the first week in july, and the three of us girls who were beginners all tested into competitive level 2/3. haha which is sad in gymnastics world but AWESOME in i’m-out-of-shape-and-haven’t-attempted-any-sort-of-gymnastics-in-years world! So we’ll see how it turns out. I’m excited to go back. Work out. Get in shape for all the hiking/mountain climbing that will be happening!

And on the serious side…. (aka: random tidbits of thoughts i’ve had in classes and at other times that i’ve jotted in my journal that will now be here for your reading enjoyment – back to your feature presentation)

#1 – history, when it’s taught or brought up in classes, is from a european perspective. it’s such a cool difference, and i know that it will give me a much more well-rounded view of real history than just the “AMERICA IS BEST AND THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE” perspective we get throughout school.
#2 – HILARY WON ON SUPER TUESDAY!!!!! What what?!?! My dream ticket is Hilary/Barack… but i think they made a song about it called – “wishful thinking” (i actually think it’s called “the king of wishful thinking” – pretty woman. good song) (and i know you’re all rolling your eyes, can’t believing i’m cheering on hilary on my own blog, that liberal fool you’re thinking but hey -ITS MY BLOG hahahhaa and she’s amazing. AND she has OVARIES. it’s the best part!!)
#3 – Students in the graduate class i’m taking (it’s a film class) asked what “lynching is,” and in my journal I wrote: “I’m the outsider here, but we’re all unaware about different things. In america, a big criticism of the educational system is the lack of global education offered; it’s always american centered – but being here, seeing these everyday, intelligent students ask what venetian blinds and lynching are… i feel some comfort in knowing that no matter where we are in the world, we can’t know everything”
#4 – i have decided to start researching places/ideas for a Fullbright Scholarship application. http://www.fulbrightonline.org/

Quote:
“is not general incivility the essence of love?”
-Jane Austen… from the jane austen book club — i went and saw it last weekend at the movie theater around here. i needed something american. it’s adorable. and SO feel good. check it out!

The files of “etc” (i know i know… i have officially read too much perezhilton.com)
I’m really just having a good time. Last semester was so hard, and I know a lot of you know everything that went down. And I know I’m still recovering, still trying to put together the pieces. Yesterday I got on facebook (um when am i NOT on there? haha) and Jacob had changed his profile picture to one of us where he cropped me out. uh. seriously. cropped. me. out. i dont know. it probably wasn’t intentional (HA!), i mean you do kind of have to put some effort into doing that, and you can still see my shadow of my face.. .anyway yes, i’m a little upset over it. but it reminded me that i’m not completely okay yet, and i should be okay with that.. .and i am. i’m really trying to embrace these six months as a tme where… i am away from everything. i’m in one of the most gorgeous places i’ve ever seen, can even imagine. i’m surrounded by mountain and ocean is so close. i’m at the perfect place at the perfect time in my life to just make time for me. so that’s what this semester is about — Me. I’m recovering. I’m not interested in dating (really not. like almsot weird not). Editor Guy and I still are something but nothing… we email and talk occasionally but who knows what will happen. And I’m happy with that. I’m content with not needing definite answers. Alana, Cassidi and I have gotten closer. We have a lot of fun together. We’ve started hanging out with two other girls – Briana and Clair – more and more. They both go to Clemson… so we reminisce about the good ‘ole south together haha it’s fun. they’re really great. we go out on teh weekends together… party too hard sometimes… but someone’s always sober to make sure, even walking, that we get there safely. We have some trips coming up that we’re excited about. We’re going this weekend on a wine tour – SO excited about that — going to four of the biggest vineyards in Stellenbosch… that’s on Saturday. Then on Sunday (get this!!) we’re going to Cape Point to see PENGUINS!!! African penguins. They’re adorable, albeit dirty, little things. I’ll definitely have pictures. No worries 🙂

Sometime soon Alana and I are going to go mountain hiking. We’ll probably start with the smallest ones around us (ha, they’re not small) and work our way up to the bigger ones. My roommate Jen climbed Stellenbosch Mountain (it’s HUGE) last weekend, and she said the view is just breathtaking. I’m really excited.

Hope you could all see everything on here. Let me know if anything didnt load right. sorry for switching sites, but I wasn’t able to load things correctly.

Miss and love you all!

Peace –
Cyndi

girl gone crazy!
Mom wanted a picture of me — and here it is! haha One of our crazy nights out.. .and we were dancing at a place that had this random pole. And you KNOW my crazy self got up on stage and was dancing and singing when my man Bon Jovi was on… singing “livin’ on a prayer!” that’s my song!

the girls!
Cassidi, Alana, and me 🙂 We so cute!

Cassidi and Me
Cassidi and me on the Cape Town tour. We were somewhere on Table Mountain. A view of Cape Town is behind us.

Published in: on February 12, 2008 at 8:44 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

PICTURES!!!!

The past few days have been incredible. The girls (Alana, Cassidi, and myself) went to Clifton beach this past Saturday in Cape Town. It was UHmazing. Just gorgeous. We spent the entire day out there. I’ve never felt water that cold in my LIFE. it was intense. We would put our feet in, and they would be numb in seconds. It was so hot out that every once in a while I would take a running start and just go as fast as I could into the water, submerge myself, and then have to immediately run back out, squealing because of how numb my entire body was! haha The natives just… froliced about, swimming in the water… and we just watched in amazement. We also realized once we had been dropped off at the beach (the guy that Alana is sort of seeing took us on his way to work) that it is a topless beach. Interesting experience. Didn’t bother me at all. I get the impression from talking to people that there aren’t even many set aside ‘nude’ or ‘topless’ beaches here; it’s something that just IS. I really respect it. It was so… natural. I dont know. The entire nature was just laid back. It wasn’t a big deal. People are just people, and that seemed to be the atmosphere. Cassidi is from West Virginia and SUCH a country girl (ask me how I make these conservative friends, haha), and she was over it VERY quickly, but we just laughed about it after a while. Lots of old men in speedos, too. We laughed, but even that didnt bother me. It’s not about an ‘enjoyable’ sight… it’s just… people. Anyway – it was definitely new.

Friday night (i’m working backwards I know…) we went to dinner at Spiers, this very famous wine estate here in Stellenbosch. They have cheetahs that you can touch… ostrichs… tons of wine… etc. It’s gorgeous. A couple of Zac’s friends (he’s the guy Alana is sort of seeing) work on the estate, and they were having a braai. We brought meat and wine. It was lovely. We could hear drums in the distance — there are a few places around town where they do tribal drumming and stuff. It seems to be more for show than an actual part of the culture, though, which bums me out. It’s all good though — in time, I will make my way to a REAL tribal village and see the real thing. 🙂

Other than that, classes started today. I am SO excited. I am taking 18 hours… which is a LOT, especially studying abroad, but honestly, lately it’s really hitting me how close I am to graduating, and I’m getting focused on finishing what I need to finish. I’m really stoked. I qualify to take their Honours (to spell it as they do!) courses. Here, the university system is only three years, instead of the American four. If students want to take a fourth year – it’s called their Honours Year, which is like the start of their Masters and/or PhD program. So it’s really exciting that Ill have the equivalent of a graduate class or two on my transcript. Im a nerd… what can I say?? I’ll never outlive it 🙂

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Mr. Ben Big – my main man. From when I was in London – this was really my favorite. Although the Houses of Parliament were pretty spectacular…. nah… he still wins 🙂

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and the fantastic Buckingham Palace. It took me AGES to find this place. i was dead tired, jet lagged, hadn’t slept in a lot of hours… didnt know what time or day it was.. .and I kept asking for directions and then walking the wrong way. i know you’re all shocked. haha but it was totally worth it when i finally saw it. SO gorgeous.

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Here’s a view of Stellenbosch. We went on a tour of Stellenbosch and the surrounding cities during orientation, so unfortunately this and the next few picture are taken from a bus, but you can still get the idea. This doesn’t do the city justice, but you can see the clouds over the mountains (SO pretty), the mountains themselves and vineyards.

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This is pretty much the closest beach to Stellenbosch – it’s about 15 minutes away. So really close. It’s gorgeous, huh? …wait until you see Cape Town….

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Table Mountain! It’s the most famous mountain in Cape Town – the view from it is spectacular. The clouds this day we went… were unbelievably gorgeous. They just… wow. We’re planning a trip for sometime in the next couple weeks to go climb it and rappel off of it. It’s the world’s highest rappel, apparently. I’m stoked for the view!

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Cape Town coastline… the ocean… it’s gorgeous. I took this picture from the bus, and it’s still amazing. I can’t get over it. I love it 🙂

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Meet my girls!! I’m the one on the far left…… just in case you were wondering… haha Cassidi is in the middle – she’s the one from West Virginia. She’s super sweet but has been REALLY homesick. She has a pretty serious boy thing at home that she’s missin’ like crazy. Alana is on the far right. She’s from Connecticut, and has been the IT girl here. Boys are all over her, all the time. She’s quite literally batting them off like flies. She’s got a few she can’t seem to get rid of…. haha They’re awesome, and we all just clicked and get along really well. They’re keeping me sane here. 🙂

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Love from South Africa!! Hope you can read it! Miss and love you all!

Published in: on February 4, 2008 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment