From South Oakland to South AfricaCape Town, Fall 2012

After incessantly triple-checking my luggage to make sure I had everything packed, flying a total of 19 hours over two continents, and saying soul-crushingly sad goodbyes to my family and friends, I finally made it to Cape Town. The first few days were quite an adjustment, with trying to recover from jetlag to attempting to find wifi so that I could alert loved ones that I survived the journey to sitting through the litany of IES-sponsored tours; I’ve been constantly busy since I got to South Africa.

In only a week I’ve sat on an ostrich, eaten lamb’s head and tried to expand my culinary horizons, ziplined across treetops, played with African children, and stared fruitlessly at the ocean/any body of water for a sign of a shark. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any yet but if I haven’t gazed upon a Great White by September I’ll probably just go into the ocean on a surfboard while bleeding or something.

I pretty much did the exact opposite of what you should do in a foreign country as soon as I got here: I lost my wallet. To those of you reading this who are soon going to embark on a trip to Cape Town: DO NOT LOSE YOUR WALLET. I have zero Rand to my name and have had to beg everyone to lend me money. It’s a miserable experience. I had to cancel my card immediately and call my bank so that they could send me a new one, which was an annoying process. My recommendation to you is to constantly make sure you have everything you need on you at all times. Store items in your front pockets or the inside of your jacket so you can constantly feel that they’re there. On the positive side, losing my wallet and all forms of identification except for my passport was nice because it made me realize that things really can’t get much worse.

I miss home a lot more than I thought I would. Things are different here but still pretty similar to America. I’ve never been more aware of the fact that I have an accent (not to mention my northern accent, as most people in my program are Southern), so I’m hoping to be able to fake a South African accent soon so I stop getting ripped off when I go out or take a cab.

To all of my friends and family reading this: I miss all of you. Just because I haven’t gotten in contact with you all doesn’t mean that I don’t miss each and every one of you and am not thinking of you all on a daily basis. Everyone from Pitt will be happy to know that Wiz’s “Black and Yellow” has made it to South Africa, but by far the most crushing thing I have learned is that the country has never heard “Call Me Maybe”. I miss and love you all and hope to talk to you soon. Facebook or email me.


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  1. Great 1st blog, Kel. Keep them coming. We miss you too, but you already know that. Take care.

  2. Awesome blog post… I was in Cape Town with IES last semester. Your post brings back memories, for sure.

    Although I will say that Call Me Maybe most definitely was a well known song among South Africans. They pick up all American music at the same time we do.

    And regarding cabs — one good tip is to just use trial and error until you find a cheap cab driver. I had one driver who would bring me from Rosebank to Long Street for R60, and sometimes even R40 if I was lucky! If you negotiate with them, they will give in.

    Once you get debit cards again, I suggest that you keep one with you and one in your safe. I lost mine in the first month but I still had another in my safe so I was ok.

    Best of luck! You’ll love Cape Town

  3. you’re from Pittsburgh too? I am actually heading out to South Africa in January and I’m looking forward to hopefully not losing my wallet!

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