Thursday, August 28, 2008

Well, I'm on my way!

Ok, so I haven't actually left yet...I'm not leaving until tomorrow morning, but I figured I probably won't have much time to update again before I leave considering I'll be running around packing everything, praying that my suitcase weighs less than 50 pounds, and still trying to finish reading my last book. I'm hoping to have at least half of it read before I leave. We'll see. So anyway, I leave tomorrow morning, flying out of Cincinnati to JFK. From there, I'll meet up with the group of people from my program and we'll all fly to Johannesburg together. It takes such a long time to get there, that our plane actually makes a little pit-stop in Senegal instead of going straight there. I should arrive in Johannesburg around 5pm SAST which is about 11am EST. That's right, I'll be traveling for over a day.

Anyway, once we arrive in Johannesburg, we'll spend a few days there seeing the sights, getting over jet lag, and getting oriented to life in South Africa. Then, we'll head to Durban, where I'll stay with a family in the suburbs for several weeks. I'm not exactly sure when I'll be able to access the internet, but I will try to update as soon as I can. Well, I should probably get pack to packing all of my things up. See you in a few months!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fun Facts About South Africa!

  • South Africa has had 6 Nobel Prize winners, and is the only nation in the world where two prize winners live on the same street (Nelson Mandela lives down the street from Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Soweto).
  • The world's largest diamond, the Cullinan diamond was found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106.75 carats. It was cut into several different diamonds, the largest being the Great Star of Africa weighing 530.2 carats. The diamonds are now a part of the British crown jewels.
  • South Africa is the world leader in mining and minerals.
  • The first human heart transplant was performed in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967 by Dr. Christian Barnard.
  • South Africa is home to 4 of the 5 fastest land animals in Africa- the cheetah, the lion, the wildebeest, and the Thomson's gazelle.
  • More than 50% of paragliding records have been set in South Africa.
  • South Africa is home to the 2010 World Cup.
  • South Africa has eleven national languages: English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setwana, Swati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga
  • South Africa has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean.
  • Its nickname is the Rainbow Nation.
  • South Africa has 3 capitals: Johannesburg (legislative), Pretoria (executive), and Bloemfontein (judicial).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Really Cool South African Athlete:

So tonight while I was watching the Olympics, they took a break from all the action and showed this interview with this girl from South Africa named Natalie du Toit. Her story was seriously so amazing! She dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer ever since she was a little girl, but she got side-swiped by a car when she was riding a scooter several years ago and they had to amputate one of her legs from the knee down. But she somehow learned how to swim well with just her one leg, and since the open-water swimming events really require more upper-body strength, she was able to represent South Africa in the event in Beijing! Unfortunately, she didn't win, but I still think that's so cool how she overcame such a huge obstacle and achieved her dream! She's also going to compete in the Paralympics later on. But really, such a neat story.

Anyway, I'm still trying to finish up my books that I'm supposed to read before I get to South Africa...hopefully I'll finish them in time! I'll also have to go make a trip down to the county clerk (always a fun time) to apply for an absentee ballot as there is no way I am missing out on this very important election. I thoroughly enjoy voting! I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little sad that I won't get to watch all of the election results. My freshman year when the Democrats took over majority in both the House and Senate, I popped a big bag of popcorn and watched the news as it all unfolded. Yeah, I'm basically a huge dork when it comes to the electoral process, but it is pretty cool to watch. Well, I'm getting pretty sleepy, so I think I'll head off to bed now. South Africa is so soon!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Home Again!

Well I have finally returned from the Heavenly World, and I really miss it already! I can't believe how incredibly fast it all went! But it's good to be back because I got to watch the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, which were pretty cool, and now I have lots of time to prepare for my departure to South Africa for the semester! For some reason (probably because I haven't actually looked at a real calendar in several weeks) I thought that I only had two weeks after I got home until I left, but I actually have three! Which is totally fine with me, because I definitely have a lot to do! Plus it gives me more time to finish reading all of my books that I'm supposed to read before I get there. I've only finished one so far (Nelson Mandela's autobiography), and I just started reading a book about the history of South Africa, which starts out talking about Hunter-Gatherers, so it's pretty comprehensive. I also need to figure out exactly what to take, and I need to find some fun gifts for my homestay families. They said to get shirts from my school (which I don't really know if that's possible because I most likely will not be going to Richmond before I leave) or things that represent where I live, etc. Too bad I probably can't bring them some Ale-8 one. I'm pretty sure it would probably explode on the plane. Anyway, I think I'm just gonna take today easy and relax from all the running around and craziness at camp.

Less than 3 weeks!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lack of time to update... I haven't really updated in a while, but that's because camp has been pretty nuts lately. The July session ended really well, and went very smoothly. August started off well, but then we got plagued by this 24-hour sickness. It's been insane. I got sick last Saturday and pretty much slept the majority of Sunday. So many people have gotten sick. Some of the nurses even got sick, so they recruited me to help out in the infirmary. Basically, you get a lot of nausea and then you throw up everything you've eaten that day. And then you can't eat or drink anything for several hours because if you do, you'll just throw up again and get worse. But the worst of it is over, and we're all getting back on our feet, so that's good.

I'll be back from camp this Friday, which will be exactly 2 weeks from the date of my departure for South Africa! I am so excited! I have so much packing to do! And lots of reading. I'm supposed to have read 4 books by the time I get there (about the history of the country, etc.), and I'm still not even finished with my first one (Nelson Mandela's autobiography). It's really good, but I find that at camp, other things like showering or sleeping take precedence over reading. I'm almost finished with this book though. My goal is to finish it before I get home and then power through the others. Two of them are more like textbooks. I'm thinking with those they just want us to have general knowledge of the history/state of things, rather than knowing specific facts. We'll see. Well, it's getting late and I should probably be heading back to my cabin. Bye!