We made it! All five of us students have arrived safe and sound to South Africa for six weeks of learning, adventure, and museums and culture galore.
Though each of us took different routes to Johannesburg, it was by far the longest any of us have spent on a plane and in airports. Having flown to Europe before, the two flights that took me from Windsor to Toronto and then from Toronto to Amsterdam seemed like a breeze, so I figured my flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg would be just as easy. I had already been on a number of six-hour flights before, so how hard could 11 hours be?
I was wrong, so very wrong. And I’m now more grateful than ever that I won’t be doing those flights all in one go on my way back to the US. I was constantly thinking we had three hours of flight time left only to check the flight tracker and see that we has seven hours remaining. I’m sure everyone on that flight was overjoyed to disembark.
Alexa and I arrived late Monday night (13 June), making it easy for us to adjust to the timezone since we were exhausted by our usual bedtime. Hannah, Campbell, and Annetta arrived the next morning (14 June) while Alexa and I were still recovering from our journeys. While the other girls rested, Alexa and I crossed the street for some much-needed lunch at Café de la Crème where I was served possibly the most beautiful and desperately-needed latte of my life.
At about 3:00 pm, we all piled into the van for a grocery run at a nearby mall to pick up some food and other necessities for our time in Joburg. It was pretty surprising to see how cheap many of the groceries were as a result of both the exchange rate and the SA economy. It definitely helps us out budget-wise, but it’s a bit discomforting to spend 10-12 USD on items that would normally cost close to 30 USD.
We finished our first full day in Johannesburg with a welcome dinner at the nearby Ant Café for pizzas, salad, and an introduction to the next six weeks. We talked about what we would be doing up until the beginning of our internships in Cape Town, answered a bunch of icebreaker questions, and learned a lot about everyone’s food preferences based on our pizza orders. For months on end it seemed like our time in South Africa was always so far away, but it was finally setting in that we were actually here and that our six weeks in SA was just beginning.