T.I.A.

TIA. The most commonly used phrase here: This Is Africa. It’s the African lifestyle of community, laidback days and a forever late schedule that make this place so unique. I’m a little over a month in now and I think I have the hang of this place. Thus I have compiled a list of some of the best and worst and just plain differences I have picked up on.

  1. There are 17 KFC’s just in Port Elizabeth. All of them deliver, and many are open 24/7. Who’s the lazy country now?!
  2. I do a lot of walking. It’s about a 25 minute walk to school and people just stare at me as I walk by. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it was because white people don’t walk to school, they all have cars.
  3. Most families here have domestic maids. They get paid on average 7.45 rands per hour, which is about the equivalent of a single American dollar.
  4. If you’re walking cars will honk at you. It’s not rude; it’s a friendly greeting here.
  5. African time is a real thing. It’s called being late.
  6. There are three different ways to say “now”.
    1. “Now” – means in a few minutes
    2. “Now Now” – mostly means right now, but no one here is ever urgent or on time
    3. “Just now” – means within the hour or so
    4. Yes, these are all real phrases. No, it doesn’t make sense. TIA.
  7. People stand in parking lots and help guide you to park your car correctly. They just do it for tips, and are called “Car Guides”.
  8. Convi’s are like community taxi’s. They are big white vans that drive by and sound like they are yelling “down, down” instead they are yelling “town, town”. They will do anything for a customer, including drive backwards on the road to pick you up. They are only to be taken safely during the day and only cost 7 rands (about a dollar).
  9. Chicago has nothing on PE (Port Elizabeth, where I am staying) as the windy city. I haven’t left my room in 4 hours because the wind literally will just push me over.
  10. Air conditioning doesn’t exist.
  11. Americans. They will either love you or hate you.
  12. Free internet doesn’t exist.
  13. Even though English is the official language, most people speak either Xhosa or Afrikaans. I feel like it’s mostly because they know I have no idea what they are saying.
  14. Lions don’t walk down the street here, neither do giraffes.
  15. Their idea of street food is fruit stands.
  16. All common driving and traffic principles are optional, including but not limited to: stop signs, cars driving on sidewalks, speed limits and parking spaces.
  17. You drive on the left side of the road here, so it’s not just in the UK.
  18. It’s rude if you don’t dress decently for class. Going to school is a privilege.
  19. There are three main races: white, black and colored (at home colored people would be considered “mixed” but here it’s its’ own race).
  20.  Fresh bakery bread is cheaper than the pre-packaged sliced version, it’s about a dollar.
  21. Iced coffee doesn’t exist.
  22. EVERYTHING is gated. Streets are lined with fences and just peaking out behind them are houses.
  23. Most students here are locals, meaning they still live at home with their parents. It’s very rare to find a local that lives on their own.
  24. It’s not uncommon to find a local student that has never been to a township in their own town.
  25. Unless you are on a varsity sports team, most people aren’t active, at all.
  26. It takes me 20 minutes to walk to school at a decent pace, on average it takes a local about 45.
  27. Bugs are EVERYWHERE. Get used to the ants, if you leave anything out for longer than 15 minutes than the ants will claim territory on it. Gross.

 

Life here is just a little bit different. It has not been as hard to adjust as I thought. Not having internet and much of a phone is a nice change of pace for a while. You never realized how different cultures are to yours until you dive full in and choose to embrace it. With change comes growth, and Africa you have pushed me to grow more in this last month than I have my whole life. TIA.

Erin.

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