It is day 6 in Grahamstown, South Africa! Can’t believe I have only been here for 6 days! It feels like I have been here for much longer. I am starting to feel a part of the local people. I even feel myself starting to talk like them with an English accent with an African twist. I also feel like I belong at the school as well. I guess I am starting to feel settled into this new world. Before I know it, it will be April 10 and I will have to return to my normal existence, but I am beginning to wonder if I will be ready for that. I am enjoying myself so much here I am unsure I will want to return home. But I have been told by my father that when that plane leaves from PE (thats Port Elizabeth for non-natives ;-D ) I better be on it! So I guess I will have no choice but to return to my “gangsters, famous people, and multiple lane highways” of a world.
My students are very curious about America and always have many questions about my home. Today I was asked if I know any gangsters? When I inquired further they said “you know the people who wear big pants and carry machine guns.” All I could do was laugh at this because it was an innocent question and all my students really knew about American culture was what they saw on TV and in movies. So I could not blame them for this, but I made sure to tell them that the people who dress in this way is only a very small portion of Americans. And that I have never met anyone who carries a machine gun.
They also wanted to know if I knew any famous people (like Miley Cirus, Usher, or Justin Beiber). Unfortunately for me and them, I said that I do not. They also wanted to know if I knew where any of them lived. I it is not a secret where certain celebrities live but they have alarm systems and other things to protect their property.
Finally, my students wanted to know about the roads in America. They said they saw a picture of a road that have four or five lanes going in one direction and the four or five lanes in the other direction. I confirmed for them that there are places with multiple lanes and mostly on the highways or express ways there are many lanes. This was new for them because in Grahamstown there are only one lane for each direction.
I really love talking to my students about where I am from and learning from them about their culture and norm.
It is nice to be completely out of your comfort zone in every way possible, because you really start appreciating home. You are also able to appreciate other’s homes because it is their ‘normal’. Your minds eye becomes open and aware of the rich cultural differences that makes us all unique and special. So although I am still unsure if I will be ready to return home in a few weeks, I am happy to call Grahamstown a home away from home, and know that I will always be welcome to come back!