By Max Horsman, Student Social Work at Avans Hogeschool, ‘s-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands)

I want to start this blog with a summary of last weekend. The CASO participants from project 2.1 and 2.2 (in Cape Town) came over for the weekend. We had lots of fun, good conversations and it was really nice to see our friends from Cape Town again. It is crazy how fast you get attached to people here. Because everybody is out of their comfort zone (I mean, living on the other side of the world for 6 months is not always ‘easy peasy lemon squeezy’) you cherish the social contacts a lot more than I do in the Netherlands. Therefore I was really glad to see the people again that I have lived together with for almost a month. In the beginning, there were some struggles with planning the activities for the weekend (but that isn’t strange for a group of 16 people…). But after all, I had a great time while canoeing, hiking, braaing and visiting the elephant park in Knysna. But most of al, it was great to be reunited with my friends from Cape Town!

Over the last weeks, I have begun to realise how ‘white’ I am. It might sound crazy, but let me explain it. Back in the Netherlands, I’ve never realised how hard it can be, to be an ethnic minority. Almost everybody in George is ‘coloured’. Therefore, I usually stand out (due to my appearance). This can make it difficult to blend in with the staff in the Hospital. The language barrier is also difficult. The main language in the hospital is Afrikaans. Most professionals can speak Xhosa or English as well. But if they communicate with each other, this usually happens in Afrikaans. Therefore I do not understand everything. This makes it difficult to participate in the conversation on the wards. It does depend on the wards/professionals how likely they are to start talking in English (I have had a lot of luck during my visits in the hospital). Due to these two factors I do not feel like a local and this can make it difficult for me while writing my thesis.

I have done lots of fun things as well in the past two weeks. To begin with, it was my birthday…21! To celebrate this, we went out for dinner at the best restaurant ever in George. I’ve also done a hike (King Fisher Trail) to the waterfalls which was really nice! We also celebrated the birthday of Terri (one of my roommates) and ate these amazing cakes that we made ourselves!

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