South Africa - Country Of Diversity
Siv-Anns Austauschljahr in Kapstad
What comes to your mind, when you think about South Africa?
Table Mountain? Nelson Mandela? Braais?
Well probably not that most of the cars are white. That wouldn't be much of a problem but if somebody is going to pick you up and gives you the only information, that he's driving a white car, you are kind of lost.
Another characteristic of South Africa, which you most probably never thought of, is the variety of malls. In Germany you have to take a drive to the nearest city, in order to have a nice shopping day, where as here, in South Africa, this 'problem' doesn't exist. You just have to take a walk round the corner and most likely you will stand in front of a big mall. A mall with every shop you can think of. Every Brand, you ever heard of; every supermarket, etc. Of course there must be as well a shop selling spices. Not one South African dish can be eaten without spices. Meat and much oil are also essential for a good home-made Sunday lunch after church.
Much more people than in Germany practice their religion. Nearly every young Christian is visiting youth groups coordinated by the church and you are allowed to leave school earlier to go to mosque on a Friday. This is one part where the word diversity describes this country the best. I haven't seen so many religions being practiced in one single country; at every corner you will find a different church, a mosque or a synagogue. Apart from this diversity I soon discovered the different standards of living, which are most shocking. You will find an upper-class area like Constantia, where the richest of rich have their mansions, directly next to a township, where people live in Shacks, struggling to survive every day. And because everybody is so captured by their own lives, nobody cares about helping each other.
This results in the fact that the area you stay in plays an important role in your attitude towards life. Because of South Africa's background of Apartheid you will find certain characteristics and attitudes - the culture - most dominantly in a person of a certain skin colour. But your skin colour doesn't always reveal your culture. Because even though you are white people would describe you as a coloured if you grew up in a coloured environment.
Normally the area where you stay also determines your education. If you stay in a poor area and your parents' income is lower, your school fees - yes, attending school cost money- will be less than in a good area, but your education won't be as good as of schools with higher school fees. Luckily the school I'm attending has very high standards and a big range of extra mural activities. From choir, Musical and Jazz band over Hockey, Cricket and Rugby to Dance Society, Debating Society and Culinary Society, every scholar can find something that interests him or her. That's why most students don't leave school before five and also sometimes spend their Saturday mornings on the field for Drum Majorettes practice.
Therefore you will experience a very close student-teacher relationship, though the school seems to be very strict.
On my first day of school the guy behind me asked me, if I thought, that they would ride with elephants to school or have leopards as pets. I was amazed by this creativity. There are a lot of funny theories about Germany in this country; like: All Germans are musical and know everything about cars. Germany is in South America. "Do you have apples in Germany?", and many more.
As you can see, South Africa is a very funny place to be at. So if you consider an exchange year, spend it in South Africa, preferably during 2010 and you will get two months more holiday than usual because of the FIFA Soccer World Cup.