By Charlotte Libeer
How Did I Get Here??
I still remember when I applied for the project. It was October. The school year had just started and we were overloaded with work. Assignments, exams, internships, … Very busy business. Untill I heard a lecturer talk about a project in South Africa. That same evening I wrote my motivation letter – like the impulsive person that I am.
The following months were very stressful, on school level as well as personal level, so I didn’t really think about the fact that I would be leaving soon.
All of a sudden, the 16th of february was there. I had done all the preperations, struggled to get my visa in time and packed my bags. Without even realizing it, I had said goodbye to the persons I love and was sitting on the train to Paris. We (Jana, Lieselot and I) didn’t have a lot of time to catch our plane, but after a nervewrecking couple of minutes we were ready to go.
The next 11 hours were the longest of my life. I was sitting next to a very friendly but spacetaking lady and time didn’t seem to pass. I did get to watch some movies and when there were no clouds, the view was absolutely stunning.
When we finally arrived, we were very excited but exhausted. After 30 minutes of waiting for my luggage – others had found theirs in 2 seconds – I found out something went wrong in Paris. They accidently didn’t transfer my bag, so it was still in the airport in France, about 13 000 km away. Perfect. I filled in some files and then we left.
We arrived to the house of Carolyn & Kevin, a couple that would host us for the upcoming 2 weeks. They were very friendly and made us feel very welcome. Lieselot and I got to share a room, Jana got the single one. We were exhausted and immediately went to sleep.
The next day, a sunday, was the first time we got to see Cape Town by daylight. It is a very big, chaotic but beautiful city. We had to go and meet the other participants of the CASO project (I will get you more information on the project, don’t worry).
Getting there was quite an adventure. Our uber driver drove us to Century City, a huge city mall that looks like an attraction park. As you probably can predict, we got lost. After 40 minutes we finally found the group. Great first impression, the 3 Belgian girls were already late. We got some information on the schedule and our assignments, but it was still kind of vague.
Afterwards we went to a very nice bar called Trenchtown, and we got to socialize with the other students. There were some other Belgians from our school, Dutch and Finnish students. The South African students joined us later that week. We drank cocktails and had our first glass of South African wine (which was amazing btw).
CASO and the Intensive Program
What is this CASO thing? CASO is the project I am participating and it stands fot “Caring Society”. It is a partnership between 3 South African universities and a Belgian (KdG), a Dutch (Avans) and a Finnish (Lahti) college university. It acts in the fields of health and welfare.
The first 2 weeks I was joining the Intensive Program, in which we learned skills like leadership, international/interprofessional working and many more. We joined the 2.2 program, that focusses making youngters aware of the importance of having an healthy lifestyle. We learned how to bring this kind of theme to the children, by making fun and active PE classes for primary and high schools.
As the name reveals, it was a very intensive 2 weeks. We were in class every weekday from 8h to 16h. In between the hours, we joined in lots of social and cultural activities as well, as we didn’t want to waste any time in Cape Town.
The Fun Things We Did
As interesting as the project may seem, I would like to focus a little more on the other activities we did. I will briefly summarise, because I could go on and on about it and bore everyone away.
- The Heart Museum: A museum that tells the story of dr. Barnard, the first person ever to perform a heart transplant. In South Africa! It was very very interesting and I would really recommend it if you happen to pass Cape Town, even when you have no medical background. The tour guide was a very passionate lady who vividly told us about his journey.
- Monday 18/02 we celebrated Lieselot’s birthday by cruising around the coastline, singing in the wind.
- Full Moon Yoga: Every month, on the day of a full moon, a big group of very hipstery people goes to the foot of Lion’s Head to do yoga. Not really my thing, but it was quite an experience!
- Museum Night in Cape Town: Free access to the musea.
- Crocodile Diving: We went to a crocodile farm, and afterwards we went into the water!
- Lion Sanctuary: We went to visit a place where they kept lions that were saved from circuses, illegal traffic, etc.
- Table Mountain: On Saturday, we hiked up Table Mountain! It was a very steep and hot climb, but we made it! It was amazing! (I did get the worst sunburn ever)
- Sunset at Signal Hill
- Baxter Theatre: We got invited by the South African students to come and watch an Afrikaans play called “Woza Albert”. It was an amazing play, although it involved a lot of political jokes I didn’t always get and it was hard to understand sometimes. I am very glad I did it.
- Spice Route: Winetasting in Paarl! It was a lovely experience! Tasting lots of very good wines and chocolate, enjoying a beautiful view and being with new friends.
- Open Air cinema: We went to the Open Air cinema in Kirstenbosch. The view was absolutely amazing, sitting in the middle of the gardens. Even though it was drizzling a little and it was not my kind of movie (Mamma Mia 2), I very much enjoyed it.
- Boulders Beach: This day was the best day so far. We drove the coastline and went through the mountains to spend the day in Simon’s Town. We hung out at the beach, between the penguins and absolutely stunning waters. Swimming in the ocean, eating some ice cream and visiting the harbour to eat some fish and chips.
My Last Moments In Cape Town
These were my experiences so far. I’ve had ups and downs. I underestimated the impact being so far away from home and being homesick. I struggled getting used to the South African way of life. On the other hand, I met amazing people, saw the most beautiful things and made some life-long memories!
Now I am in George, a little town about 500km from Cape Town, to start my nursing internship and develop another CASO project. All very exciting thing, to be continued in the next chapter of my South African adventure!
Follow Charlotte on her Blog My South African Adventure