Missing study abroad
Well, I've returned from Cape Town. It was INCREDIBLE. The only problem is that when my friends ask me how it was, I really don't know how to formulate a semi-coherent response. It's so difficult to condense five months of experience without rambling about my host family for twenty minutes, or my trip to Turkey and my SURPRISE overnight layover in Amsterdam (where I was able to meet up with one of my best friends, another Oxy student abroad for the semester, and crash at her Dutch apartment for the night!). Or I could talk about the oh-so-wonderful minibuses of Cape Town.
The classic CPT minibus - sometimes they are decorated, though. My personal favorite was the minibus decorated with dollar signs and smiley faces. (Photo courtesy of Reuters.)
This will probably sound really weird, but my favorite memory from Cape Town is definitely sitting in a minibus with my incredibly intelligent, hilarious and understanding friend Autumn. Of course, the minibus would have to be playing some sort of kwaito music (here's a link to our all-time favorite: "Nkalakatha" by Mandoza). You can flag these down at any time when you're walking on the main road that runs throughout Cape Town, but it's more likely that minibus drivers will actually fight over you. No joke, I have seen parents nearly separated from their children as people fought over passengers. It's an efficient system: one person drives, one person collects fares and yells out a variety of destinations in a classic accent. You will hear this from about 7 AM until 9 PM every. single. day. Oh, and you can get across town for about $0.25 USD - and Cape Town is EXPENSIVE, so you have to be grateful for a reliable and cheap form of transportation! I miss it so much right now. There's really nothing better than going to a flea market, hopping in a minibus and enjoying the breeze on a sunday day... especially if you get lucky and your bus is not packed to the point where the line between people and sardines blurs.
A photo I snapped one day while I was waiting for a train for an hour and a half. Thankfully, it was absolutely beautiful out!
I think I miss this aspect of my experience so much because once I mastered the minibus system, I really felt like a Capetonian. Between taking the train from my homestay to school every day, taking cabs at night, and hopping on minibuses to get around the city, I became VERY familiar with the various routes around the city. Even the seemingly mundane bits of my study abroad experience stick in my memory - probably because there is that underlying feeling of belonging in Cape Town now. Writing this post now has me pining for Cape Town in the most intense way. However, I am also incredibly excited to be reunited with my best friend in FOUR days! I'm flying from NYC to Boulder on Monday night. I haven't seen her since last May. Outrageous. In the interim, she has volunteered in Costa Rica and studied abroad in Chile. We are going to have an epic reunion (I am bringing a vuvuzela) and then we are driving from Boulder, Colorado to Oxy! Yes! SO excited to reunite with everyone.