One of the first things you learned upon arriving to Cape Town is the simple phrase: This is Africa (TIA). The best way to describe the meaning of TIA is all encompassing. When I first arrived over a month ago, I would use the phrase TIA to describe what I now realize was extensive culture shock. When a queue that would typically take 10 minutes to get through in the states took 30 in Cape Town… TIA. When most public places don’t have chargers, wifi, or consistent heat like they would in the states… TIA. When all the doctor’s offices close on the weekends, and you need medicine on a Sunday… TIA.
Yes, these things are inconvenient to foreigners like myself, but I didn’t want to live somewhere for nearly 6 months where assimilation would happen at the drop of a feather. This is Africa, and there is a certain learning curve that anyone might experience if they’ve never been here before, but that’s what I love so much about this place.
Over the past few weeks, as my culture shock has begun to subside, I’ve come around to using the phrase TIA to explain the unique things that make South Africa such a wonderful place. Only in South Africa have I witnessed students that are unafraid to challenge a dignified lecturer’s points in front of 200 other students because they see an argument from another perspective. This is Africa, where my peers greet each other with hugs and utter excitement every time they see each other because they truly appreciate friendship. I find myself whispering TIA as I stare at sprawling mountain ranges just a kilometer or so away from me as I stand on the breathtaking beaches at Camps Bay.
I love to travel, and I’ve seen many corners of the world, but I have yet to experience a place quiet like Cape Town. This is Africa. It is challenging, it is awe striking, and it is inspiring. Important things are happening here that change how people see the world around them. South Africa pushes you far beyond your comfort zone and teaches you more about yourself than any other place in the world. This is Africa and this place has given me the tools and determination to make my mark on the world.
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<p>My name is Claire. I am a thrill seeking millennial that is out to experience all the world has to offer. This blog will chronicle the greatest adventure of my life so far, a semester in Cape Town, South Africa. I have no idea what to expect, but my love for traveling and trying new things, as well as learning from the people around me has pushed me off the beaten path, and onto something completely new. Here's to the next six months of my life, I hope every moment is as unpredictable as I am.</p>