First Impressions

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I am finally here. After months of waiting I am finally in South Africa.

My journey here began on Tuesday as I left Oklahoma City and flew to New York.  The two other exchange students (Danielle and Skye) and I had orientation for that evening and the next morning, and then we left for the airport. Danielle, Skye, and I flew with Allen(our chaperone) flew to Atlanta and then we took an exhausting and uncomfortable  16 hour flight to Johannesburg. After we landed my thoughts about the flight started to slip to the back of my mind as the excitement started to take over. The first thing I saw after I got off the plane was a sign that said “They call it Africa, we call it home” this thought put a little flutter through my heart as I thought how this place would be my home for the next nine months.

We were greeted by and AFS volunteer named Pandelani at the airport. He welcomed us and we climbed into a van and headed to a bed and breakfast where are orientation  would be for the next two days.  The orientations were informative and it was fun to meet the other exchange students. These Students came from Canada, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium. They were all extremely nice and I loved getting to know them all. We also met other AFS volunteers who were extremely sweet and made us feel so welcome.  Here’s a picture of us with some of the AFS volunteers and other exchange studentsImage

Yesterday after two days of orientations Skye and I got up early to catch a train to Park Station in Johannesburg. We then got on a Greyhound bus. South Africa is beautiful. My first night the sunset took my breath away and the country has not stopped taking my breath away especially on the bus ride to Pietermaritzburg. The six hours went fast as I looked out the window in wonder at the amazing mountains and gorgeous trees (the trees are way cooler here). We got off the bus at about three in the afternoon and were greeted by our host family. I have my host mom and dad and then a host sister named Nina and brother named Sebastian. They are all so nice and I felt welcomed instantly.

Today we woke up and went to brunch at a place called Piggly Wiggly, and then to a Nelson Mandela museum that was informative and I really enjoyed it. After that we went to the top of Pietermaritzburg and they showed us from a look out point the entire city. It was foggy because it has been rainy, but it was stunning. The best part of the day was when we came home there were monkeys in the trees outside in the front of their house! We went out and looked at them and they were adorable. There were baby monkeys that a little bigger than my hand. It was so exciting and we learned that they run around here a lot and sometimes come inside the house and steal fruit. I think this is the most amazing thing! Here is a picture of the monkeys.

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So Pietermaritzburg, and South Africa have been great so far and I am excited to see what the coming months have in store. I am starting school tomorrow and am hoping that goes well. So wish me luck!

~Grace

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