I’m That Weird Exchange Student From America

As another week in Stellenbosch comes to an end, I’m left feeling way more comfortable than when I first arrived. Coming here I had such an open mind I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. After my second week of classes, I have a much better understanding of what exactly I am in for the next few months.
First off, I must comment on how different Stellenbosch University is compared to my tiny liberal arts college back at home. Having classes with almost 100 people in large, intimidating lecture halls is quite different than the 15-25 people classes I’m used to at Lasell. As much as I am out of my comfort zone, it’s allowing me to learn in all different environments and helping me use my resources to get the education I came here for. Don’t get me wrong, being in a more secluded class is empowering and allows me to speak freely without feeling embarrassed, but a huge lecture where the professor is contantly switching back and forth from English to Afrikaans is a challenge I am so willingly to accept.
My Austrian friend Sasa and I exploring the beautiful courtyards around town.
I love meeting new people. That is one of the reasons I went into college not knowing anyone, as well as studying abroad in the same situation. Meeting people in my classes hasn’t been too hard, but sometimes it’s also not easy. Saying I’m from the United States can result in one of the two reactions: Being associated with Trump, or getting the response, “That is so cool, I feel so honoured to be in your presence.” (I’m not kidding about that one—someone actually told me that). At times it can be frustrating to be the outsider, but other times I’m proud to be getting this experience, because it’s only making me more comfortable in my own skin. I’m not here to impress anyone, I’m here for ME!
Last weekend my AIFS group went on some more excursions to a local market, Market 44, where they had unique handmade crafts, jewellery, clothes, even furniture! We got to shop around for quite awhile, and we all explored the delicious food options (there were too many to choose from!) Afterwards we headed to Waterford Wine Estates, a local winery, where we did a wine and chocolate pairing. I personally had more fun being in the beautiful courtyard and frolicking around picking oranges and lavender, than tasting the wine, but all in all it was another fun day with my group members!
At the end of the weekend I went for another hike up the Coetzenburg Mountains, when my friend Madison and I stumbled upon a horse farm along a different trail on the side of the mountain. I heard a rumour from other students that there was a cow farm nearby so we kept venturing down the trail. The rumour was true, in which we were surrounded by fields and fields of cows!!! If anyone knows me, I have a deep love for cows and I can honestly say after visiting that farm, my life is complete. We got to go right up to the fence where a group of cattle were curiously waiting for us to pet their heads and feed them hay. It was a dream come true!
The weekend is approaching, and I will be spending most of it alone, because all my group members will be camping in the Cedarburg Mountains. I wish I could join, but I also am looking forward to some much needed alone time. I plan to go on a wine tram to seven different wine estates and check out the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve with my friend Max who I met the first week of being in Stellenbosch. I simply can’t stay away from adventure here and I love it!

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