Yesterday was my last day of freedom (aka summer) and it was spent with a trip to the aquarium. Originally, we planned on heading to the botanical gardens and climbing Table Mountain but unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating and it was very windy and overcast… not a good day to hike a mountain! So, we ended up heading back to the waterfront for the third day in a row and we visited the aquarium… we even got a discount because we had our official UCT student cards… score! We got there just in time to see both the penguin feeding and the shark feeding. Sharks have extremely slow metabolisms thus they don’t have to be fed all that often, only about once a week if they’re hungry. We got lucky and unknowingly chose Sunday to visit the aquarium, the same day that they feed the sharks! They speared the fish and then held it out via a long stick for the shark to enjoy… cool to see sharks feeding in action! What even topped that was a sign that the scuba divers (who were feeding the sharks) brought down to the viewing area… the shark feeding area was packed with viewers but all of the attention focused on two people as the sign said “Marry Me _________”… I can’t remember her name, but a guy managed to propose via a sign during the shark feed. Let’s just say it was pretty cute and from her reaction, it was certainly a surprise! At the aquarium, we also saw: seahorses (that actually move with fan-like propellers on their ears and back… very cool!), eels, jelly fish, sole, starfish, crabs, penguins, turtles, and fish galore. We had an interesting minibus ride home as two young guys, the driver and the doorman, sang all the way from downtown Cape Town to our stop in Rosebank… oh, it was interesting but very amusing! The rest of the night was spent figuring out where in the world my classes were supposed to be and making schedules. Another luxury taken for granted is a printer… I don’t have access to one here at home and it is quite expensive to print on campus so it’s back to the old days of drawing out schedules of when and where classes will be. Clearly Creighton is much smaller than UCT so navigating a campus so large had plenty of opportunities to propose some difficulties so I tried to be well-prepared for the first day.
My goal for the day was to not look like the clueless international student wandering around campus despite feeling like one and having no idea what was really going on. It turns out that I wasn’t as well-prepared as I thought I would be. I didn’t even have a notebook… oops. I made it through the day by writing on the backs of scratch pieces of paper—oh well! Lu, my RA, advised us to leave about an hour early for class in case of a long Jammie Shuttle line or more probable, in case we got lost. This again was a huge difference from home as I am use to leaving about ten minutes or so early for class which is plenty of time, even with a break or two to talk to friends along the way. I ended up getting to my first class quite early, which I guess is better than late, so I stayed outside the classroom until my lecture began. I was actually just sitting in on this one, which happened to be “Life in the Sea,” to make sure I chose the right biology class. Before class, I met a local student named Jocelyn and she was very friendly—I ended up sitting with her and she introduced me to a bunch of people in class. She was also in my next class, a legitimate class that happened to be “Life on Land: Animals.” Again, I met more of her friends, all of which seemed nice and welcoming. The class went quickly and I actually enjoyed it—I’m hoping that this biology class isn’t too difficult but I know that there will be plenty of work involved. Afterwards, I had “Understanding Gender” before I went to lunch with some international friends here with my program. Everyone has a built in lunch break from 1-2 which is nice but at the same time, everything is packed! There is no such thing as an easy first day here as I had a three-hour biology lab after lunch. I was pretty intimidated when he gave us a key to identify 17 insects in the thirty orders of arthropods. Given that I have little to no background on arthropods, I was pretty overwhelmed when the key consisted of basically gibberish to me. Luckily, most people are in my same situation and I was assured that we’d learn all of the information in lectures to come. I even had a lab group as I worked with Jocelyn and her friends (which are all very cool!) for the entirety of the lab—I am so thankful that I found someone to show me the ways… it can be pretty intimidating showing up and not knowing anyone! I am just hoping that the practical-based material will become easier once we actually go over it in lecture!
Well, it was a long but successful first day as I think I may have achieved my goal of not looking completely clueless! The next few days will be finding into a routine and learning the everyday ways of a UCT student… and of course with some time devoted to homework and studying.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and freedom as I already miss it!