Thursday, January 29, 2009

Felicitous Findings: Part 4

1.) Children's toothpaste (I seriously cannot go without)

2.) Nickel Night

3.) Georgia Douglas Johnson's poem Calling Dreams (love her!)

4.) Never having had braces

5.) Finding all the horrible things wrong in Sex and the City with your roommates

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remember snow days?

Those were great.

You'd wake up in the morning completely willingly and run to the living room to see Mom sitting there in the dim glow of the television watching the news for the closings. And when she announced that there'd be no school, or even that there'd be a delay, we'd run to the basement to put on our snow stuff, still in our PJs and without any breakfast, and run outside to play in the snow till lunch. How I miss those days.

Now, you wake up with your college roommates and check your computer for an email from the University saying that there'll be no classes all day. Still, you're excited, but not nearly as much--you also get the emails from professors assigning extra homework since clearly you have nothing to do all day except loads of extra homework. And places like work don't show up on the WTNH closings so you still have that to crawl through the snow and ice to mess up your afternoon and get there. And for goodness sakes you can't even go sledding.

Or, you can just put off all your homework till 10 o'clock at night and lay in your PJs with your roommates and watch episode upon episode of library-rented Sex and the City.

Yes, I think I like these snow days. . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Felicitous Findings: Part 3

1.) Black ink pens

2.) My Sigg water bottle

3.) Rearranging furniture

4.) Nikka Costa's song "Stuck to You"

5.) Pick of the Week iTunes cards at Starbucks (hence the discovery of Nikka Costa)


Wow, it's 2009. It's 2009?! Twenty-five days later and yes, it hits me.

I liked writing the 8 in 2008. Two circles on top of each other, not a figure eight. Now I only get to write 9s. 9s are boring to write.

Thought for the Day: Know your rights

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Felicitous Findings: Part 2

1.) Pink Grapefruit Body Butter

2.) Episodes of Saved by the Bell on TBS in the morning

3.) White Christmas lights year-round

4.) Blackberry Bolds

5.) Always having enough tissues

Monday, January 19, 2009

Felicitous Findings: Part 1

In admiration of Whoorl's Grace in Small Things, my Felicitous Findings will highlight all that I find good and enjoyable as I live this fabulous life. Do agree, and suggest as well.

1.) Blue Moon and orange slices

2.) BCBGmaxazria handbags

3.) Reading in airports

4.) Augusten Burroughs' new book A Wolf at the Table

5.) The new Kate & Leo movie

Friday, January 16, 2009

Survival of yet another plane ride

Yesterday a US Airways jetliner flew into a flock of birds and lost power in both engines. It had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River and all 155 passengers had to climb out into the freezing water.

Perhaps you aren't aware of my fear of flying. I hate flying. I dread it. My ears become super sensitive and pick up on every single noise, afraid that they all must mean something is defective in the plane and we're going to crash. Every person I see looks suspicious and I map out escape routes in my head, what I'd do in a freak situation, like it'd happen. My over-active imagination gets the best of me, once again. Yes, I'm one of those people who sits with their eyes scrunched up abnormally tight, gripping the arm rests until their knuckles are white, their lips moving quickly in silent prayer of survival.

And yesterday while that plane was crashing into the Hudson River, I was in the air.

I arrived in DC yesterday, safely, no problems, no glitches, no emergency landings in the Potomac. I guess I was pretty lucky. No one died from the US Airways flight, but still. If that was me, I'd lock myself in my apartment with episodes of I Love Lucy and never get on a plane again. It's freak accidents like that that mess with my head. If it happens once, it can happen again, I think. Perfectly logical, right?

Needless to say, I will not be flying back on Monday. I think I'll stay here on N Street with Rachel for awhile more until Harry Potter comes to America and teaches me how disapparate or use Floo powder or a portkey to get back to Storrs. I don't trust those planes. How does it even stay in the air anyway? Yes, I think I'll stay here. Barack needs me here to become his personal assistant, anyway.

Thought for the Day: This will never happen to me

Monday, January 12, 2009

A year ago today. . .

On this day, January 12th, exactly one year ago, in 2008, I was in the air on my way to South Africa. I was journaling in this little black notebook that I bought from Barnes and Noble on clearance, I was frantically consuming SoyJoy bars and airplane food (which I happen to love), I was religiously checking the flight tracker and seeing where over the continent of Africa we were presently, and in between all that I was dozing through my Tylenol PM on my inflatable pink neck pillow. It was a rough 22 hours.

One year ago.
year ago.
One year ago!

Where has my life gone? I feel like I compare everything up to this point in relation to South Africa. It's not even like I say "when I studied abroad in South Africa" or "the four months I spent in South Africa"--it's just "South Africa." But really, South Africa was kind of my great awakening, to be completely cliche. I feel like my life as a mature adult really began that January. Everything stems from then. And it's been a whole year since my life began.

Maybe it's the new year, maybe it's the wine I'm drinking, but it's just completely hitting me how much/little I've done since I've gotten back. It's been a good eight months. Break ups, make ups, new jobs, old jobs, it's all there. I think I'm still processing.

I went back and looked at the "blog" I created while I was in Cape Town. I say "blog" because I hardly worked on it at all and completely did not want to type out all my experiences as I was having them--it was hardly a blog. So I think that in light of this utterly depressing one-year-anniversary of our departure for Cape Town I'll re-post all FIVE of my "Ruth's In Africa" blog posts. If you want to see them with pictures attached, go to Read at your own risk, I was hurried:


Blog #1:
Living in a foreign country

Some fun things about South Africa I've discovered:

-Traffic lights are called robots, and they're all on posts on the street corners, not hanging above
-Currency is in rand. We divide by seven to get the American equivalent, so if a sandwich is R30, it's really only about 4 US dollars.
-The general taxis are called minibus taxis. We took out first one the other day--a pretty interesting experience. All the drivers try to haggle you into taking their bus instead of someone else's. They cram as many people as they can into this van-type thing, and stop and get out every few blocks to try and haggle other people. We went from downtown Cape Town to our suburb town, about a 15 minute drive, for only R4--less than a dollar!
-There are places called townships out on the Cape Flats, which are primarily informal settlements that blacks were forced into during apartheid. They are now slums, made up entirely of black people, often housing 10 people in one little shack.
-This country LOVES curry. There's a high Indian population here. I wish I liked spicy foods more!
-I still have not gotten used to driving on the wrong side of the road. It's hard to cross streets when we're so used to the American way. I also got thrown off by the "LEFT turn on red."
-I'm slowly learning some Xhosa, which is one of the eleven official languages here. It's one of the tribal languages and is spoken by many, along with English and Afrikaans. The x signifies a "click," which is really weird to hear. The langauge is full of clicks, as is Zulu. I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to click! (We just pronounce it "Koe-sah," without the click.)

Things are slowly starting to become natural to me, so if I think of anything else that I haven't realized, I'll add it. Still no internet at home, but we're working on it!

Blog #2:
South African children are adorable

A letter that I got from a 7-year-old student at Christel House today, in perfect cursive, who I barely even remember meeting:

"Dear: Miss Ruth
I love you very much and you my best teacher. You are a star. Thank you for the love you share with us. We will love you and think of you were evey you are. Love learner: Janicia Miller"

These kids are too cute. Other things they talked about:

"I want to go to America when I grow up. In America, everyone wears nice clothes and dresses like a model."
"You live near New York? Which movie stars have you seen?"
"I like white people. Are you a white lady? I've never seen a white lady."
"Do you live in a 2 story house? You're from America, you must have a 2 story house."

Blog #3:
I am actually LIVING in South Africa now

Hi everyone,

Well, I’ve almost been here for a full month. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been here for only a week or two, but I also feel like I haven’t been home in ages. It’s a strange feeling. Things are going well though, my internship and classes have started and everything's good.

I’m interning at Christel House, an international school started by a woman named Christel de Haan. There are also schools in the US, Mexico, India, and Venezuela. It’s a school that only accepts about 60 incoming students a year, out of 600 applicants. The kids are accepted based on their family’s income and situation. Many of the kids come from families suffering from AIDS in one way or another, abusive families, and from extremely impoverished neighborhoods. We took a tour through one town, called Langa, that a lot of the kids are from and it was just horrible. Some of the worst poverty I’ve ever seen, it was heartbreaking. But despite their backgrounds, these kids are adorable and so sweet. So far, I’ve just been working as a teacher’s aid for a first grade and third grade class, but I’m hoping to work with the social worker soon. Since I’ve been there, two kids have already had their mothers die (one little girl in my first grade class). It’s really sad, but it’s great work and hopefully preparing me for a job in my future (this is exactly what I want to do!).

Classes have started, and are definitely way more interesting than classes at Storrs. One class is a politics of South Africa class, and my professor knows just about everything there is to know about South Africa. He was involved in the political movement before the end of apartheid too, so he’s a great resource. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really interesting and I like it. Our second class is a seminar to go with our internship, mostly just discussing our internships and talking about any issues that may come up with them. Despite how easy it sounds, we actually have a bunch of papers for it so it might be more difficult than I’m thinking! Our last class is a women’s studies class given by our professor that came with us. Most of it is pretty easy, but there’s a lot of work with it. It’s interesting though, especially learning it in a foreign country and in relation to that country.

Other than that, I’ve been going to the beach a lot and having a good time! It’s fun meeting people (and hearing what they have to say about America) and luckily, I got a really good roommate, so that makes it so much better. I really like the people living with me in my house. I’m in a house of 9 other UConn students, while the other 17 live in a bigger house a couple towns over. Most places are within walking distance, and we’re also really close to the train, university bus, and taxis, so that’s nice. It’s definitely a new experience, and I’m loving every minute of it!

**Here’s an online photo album I’ve started, if you want to take a look:**

Blog #4:

It's been awhile!

Hello all,

So I'm down to my last three weeks in Cape Town and I realize yes, I haven't updated this blog since probably February.....I apologize! We've been so busy here, it's shocking to me that I've already been in South Africa for three months! But I've been having so much fun and learning so much--I don't think I'm ready to go home!

We just recently came back from our "spring" break excursion (I say "spring" because here it's turning into fall!). We took a week off and flew out to Durban, which is a coastal city farther up north. It was beautiful! We drove straight from the airport in Durban to a little village in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, called Hluhluwe (I will never be able to pronounce that). We stayed at a lodge there where antelopes and buffalo roamed the fields behind our chalets and there were lightning storms every afternoon. While we were there we got to go on a safari at the Umfolozi Game Reserve--absolutely amazing. Hands down one of the most exciting things since I've been in the country. We didn't see any elephants or lions (:( sadly enough) but we saw: warthogs, giraffes, zebras, impalas, inyalas (two types of antelope), buffalo, rhinos, a cheetah (from very far away, but still, a cheetah!), and all kinds of birds. Unfortunately it was a rainy day but it was still really cool. The next day we went on a ferry boat tour of the St. Lucia Estuary and got to see hippos and crocodiles and kingfishers. Then we drove back to Durban, which is so much greener and country-er than Cape Town, and stayed for a couple days in a hotel right on the beach. We went out to some really nice restaurants (a revolving one, one of 37 in the world), went to the beach, and went to an Indian market--Durban has a very high Indian population. From there we drove east to the Drakensberg Mountains, which I have officially decided is my new favorite place in the entire WORLD. The mountains are just endless. Our view out over our backyard was this huge green mountain, and every afternoon there would be a lightning and thunder storm over it and it would pour. The resort we stayed at was beyond beautiful, with a swimming pool and tennis courts and a human-size chess set. I could have stayed there forever. We did some hiking in the Drakensberg, and saw waterfalls and plenty of baboons. All in all, it was absolutely the best spring break I've ever had.

Of course, as soon as I got home RACHEL was here to visit! So it was really nice to be able to spend time with her and get to do more sightseeing in Cape Town. We climbed Table Mountain and even rented a car! I was so excited (but extremely nervous!) to drive on the wrong side of the road--I think we both agreed that it was the best day spent in South Africa, driving down to the Cape of Good Hope and to Boulder Beach to see the penguins. Since then, the school I intern at has been on holiday, so I've had some nice time off. I actually won't go back until the last week we're here, which is pretty sad because I do want to go back, but it's given me time to relax and get homework done and catch up on things like my BLOG! For the last three weeks, we're just all trying to cram in as much as we can and still get all our homework done! We plan on maximizing our beach time, although autumn is moving in and lately it's been about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is definitely a shock to the usual 90 degree weather!

I'm excited to go home and see everyone, but at the same time I know that as soon as I get home I'll only wish to be back in Africa. This trip has definitely opened doors for me and inspired me for my future--I'm pretty sure I've decided I want to become a children's social worker and work for an international non-profit, ideally. This trip has been so amazing, and I know the last three weeks will be even more spectacular--I'll update at least a couple more times before I go home, I promise. I hope all of you are well! :)

Blog #5:
Last two weeks!

So as my last two weeks here come to close, I'm inundated with things to do and places to go and papers to write, so I doubt that I'll be updating this blog much more before I leave. I've also realized how fast all my money has gone, and loading graphics and things like my blog uses up all of my internet bandwidth, and I really wouldn't like to purchase more internet before I leave. On that note, Marita McComiskey, who is the UConn professor accompanying us on this trip, has become a skilled blogger and has put mine to shame. So if you'd like to find out more about our time in Cape Town, along with pictures and other student's insights and even the Cape Town weather forecast, you should look at her blog: :)


Thought for the day: Don't eat the white bread.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

post een

So yes, I have created a blog. I'd like to be a blogger. Not just some random person who updates their internet journal every two and a half weeks with the dismal goings-on of their daily life, but a real, true-to-life blogger. If I could, I'd just sit on my couch for the rest of my life eating pretzels and furiously typing all my fabulously intelligent thoughts and getting rich all the while. But alas, work and class and graduation requirements call, and I must move on.

So in the meantime, all my fabulously intelligent thoughts that occur in between class and work and graduation requirements will be recorded here, free for whoever dares to read them. Enjoy.

Thought for the day: Ubuntu