Archive 2008 - 2019

Semester in Cape Town: Part 6

by Bella Tobin

We’re going into the fourth week of classes. I can’t believe how fast this semester is going. 

Things have been good, actually really incredible. I still love it, but school is a bit of a drag. Who knew you actually have to study abroad.

It was really hard to schedule my classes and took me an extra week to get the classes straightened out. The upper level math class is an "experimental course" and was actually based on chemical engineering, in which I have no experience so I dropped it and added a mathematical computer programming course and a sociology course on crime and deviance. The programming class seems really easy and basic and I have experience with Matlab so it is a refresher. I am not really interested in the crime and deviance course, but I pretend as it might keep me more focused. One of my friends Ally is in the class which motivates me to actually attend lectures and do the reading. I’ll get credit for it, and I hope the tests won't be too difficult but my interest just isn’t there.

Last Saturday we went to Old Biscuit Mill, which I’ve mentioned before and it's amazing. It’s a market that’s only open on Saturdays and has absolutely everything under the sun. They sell a lot of cute clothes, but I haven’t bought anything yet. The best part about it is the food, free samples, and almost real iced coffee.

First, let me describe some of the food. The first time I got an omelet from the omelet guys, and it had feta, cheddar, mozzarella, smoked salmon, rocket(spinach), and tomatoes. It was absolutely amazing. I also tried some bomb organic Roibos tea, with mint and lemon in it. It was so good I went back for seconds. As I know how to work a room with free samples I made the rounds. Every stand has samples, from dried fruits, nuts, sausage, honey, olives and everything olive related, meats, cheeses, smoothies, lemonade, breads, humus, and last but certainly not least pesto. I pretty much put the pesto lady out of business. She had about 12 flavors of pesto, and I tried each one a few times. The second time I got a falafel, which was amazing, but I think Charlie, the falafel man at UVM, might be better. They put more in the falafel here, including eggplant, cabbage, and beets, but it was layered so it wasn’t all together. 

Now onto the important stuff: coffee. There is a serious problem here - they have no idea what coffee is. My morning coffee is instant, sad but true. I have a never-dying love for a good iced coffee, and when I first tried to order it I was asked what kind of ice cream I wanted in it. I went for the next best thing which was an Iced Americano, which is supposed to be expresso and water, but they put milk in it. Then there is a coffee crush, which is like a Coffee Coolata. All I want is cold coffee poured over ice. I tried McDonalds and they were even further off, as they put chocolate and whipped cream on it. The hot coffee is pretty much all instant unless it's an Americano, which is not coffee. They are ok, but I want a nice Ethopian Yirgecheffe, or perhaps a French Dark Roast - hot, black and freshly brewed. Maybe I should open up a cafe here, and introduce mainstream brewed coffee. Anyway, at the Old Biscuit Mill there is a cafe called Espresso Lab, and the line is long, but it was worth it. I got an Iced Americano, but it was the most delicious espresso I’ve ever had. They put the espresso in a shaker with ice and shook it , so instead of the espresso being poured into water, the espresso melted the ice and it made a huge difference. It was divine. So much for coffee in Cape Town.

To continue the Saturday adventures, we went to the Pride Festival & Parade in Cape Town in a suburb called Green Point and it was a lot of fun. It was similar to the P-Town parade, but a lot smaller and fewer transvestites and less gays. It wasn’t as wild. I think it’s somewhat of a big deal to have a pride festival at all in South Africa. Cape Town and UCT are accepting, but I am sure the rest of the country isn’t keen on the idea.


Later we went to a rugby game and had a really good time. We had great seats and I was surprised at how big the stadium was. It was about the size of Fenway Park, maybe a little smaller. I’ve watched rugby before so I kind of knew what was going on, but I don’t know all the rules and I think it was the first time my friends had seen rugby. During half time I went to get a beer at the bar and learned that there is no drinking in the seats, only in the bar. So it's a room full of people chugging beers, which seems to be more unruly than having a beer in the stands.

Sunday was relaxing doing home work and internship applications. I’ve applied to many. Ideally I would like to get a position on an REU (research experience for undergrads) team. Hundreds apply, and about 4-12 are chosen for each project.

We are planning spring break, which is the Easter Holiday, (it's fall here). One plan with my friends, Alicia and Alyssa, is to go backpacking up the wild coast, which is on the east coast of South Africa. We would go from Port Elizabeth to Durban, where there is a lot of wildlife, culture, and beautiful beaches in between. Another option considered is to visit Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, or Namibia. I am not done exploring South Africa.