Halloween at the Aquarium

Finals are definitely amongst us here at UCT as campus is pretty much dead for the most part.  There is life at the library however which has extended hours during finals… the library is now open until 11 and even open for a bit on Sundays… wow!  Ha.  But anyways, finals are a little different here than compared to home—finals last for almost two-and-a-half weeks and are much heavily weighted when it comes to grades than at home.  There are strict “DP” requirements to even take the exam and every final counts for about 50% of your grade, if not more.  It is kind of crazy to think that one two-hour examination can influence one’s grade that much!  Most of the exams are essay based, including my entire biology exam which I have bright and early on Monday.  I had my gender final this past week which was an experience in itself.  I showed up to a huge auditorium-like room that was filled with rows and rows of desks.  We had to pick out a number upon entering to determine where we would sit and then proceeded to fill out a few forms before we were allowed to take the exam.  We had to show our student card to prove our identity then we covered our names on our test booklets so grading wouldn’t be biased.  They’re really big on everything being fair so all finals are not only graded by the professor but also by an external examiner to ensure that everyone deserves the grade they receive.  They are also very strict on rules during the exam, no one is allowed to leave during the first hour or the last twenty minutes, one must be accompanied to the restroom, and if you get sick during the examination you must go straight to the student health center where they will assess you to see if the sickness is legit or not.  If you have a legit reason for being sick, you are allowed to rewrite the exam in January… well that’s not really an option huh!  So one down, three more tests and a research paper to go!

In other news, Halloween is quickly approaching and Halloween also happens to be the birthday of one of our RAs (resident assistant).  We (about 25 of us) collectively decided that Friday would be best to celebrate both Halloween and the birthday.  Well, unfortunately Halloween isn’t really a big deal here… people know what the holiday is but don’t really celebrate it.  In fact, there next big holiday is Christmas (obviously they don’t celebrate Christmas) so Christmas decorations have filled the stores since about the middle of October… and I thought Christmas before Thanksgiving was early!  Anyways, the like one Halloween celebration here in Cape Town took place last night… at the Aquarium.  The party was called “Terror from the Deep” and they had DJs throughout the night on two different stages… one of which was even in “the Predator Tank,” so we were dancing next to the sharks and stingrays… kind of cool!  The party was sponsored by a popular drink here in South Africa called Vawter, which is essentially water, some flavoring, and alcohol… interesting concept.  Anyhow, I had a hard time coming up with what I wanted to dress up as… well, being in Africa I felt that it was only appropriate to be a lion.  So I dressed in brown, had my hair teased, my make-up done, and a nose and whiskers drawn on in my transformation process… that was even complete with a tail!  The night was fun, especially the getting ready party, but South Africans will have to learn how great of a holiday Halloween is… as it is a bit lacking here!  Oh well!

Well, Halloween means that November is just around the corner and I’m still in denial about this whole going home thing… just not really ready for it!  In fact, one of my housemates leaves in like 10 days… definitely not ok!  Fortunately I still have about a month, in fact I will be back home in the states one month from today… definitely mixed feelings about that!  This last month will be bitter sweet as saying goodbye to everyone will be extremely difficult and I will miss being in the most amazing place on Earth, but then again I am excited to see my family, my friends, sleep in my own bed, and watch football at normal hours!  I will also get to drive for the first time in more than six months and not have to rely on public transportation to get around, I will get my cell phone back (which has its pros and cons) and even get unlimited internet… which I will never take for granted again!

Well, back to studying once the Husker game is over!  Everyone have a safe yet fun Halloween!

~Susan

Me (Lion), Thanh (Smurf), Nadia (Pimp… also celebrating her birthday), Spencer (Noname from Spirited Away)

Lion!

In the Nemo exhibit!

Halloween Party at the Aquarium–Terror from the Deep

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