RSS Feed

Category Archives: Preparing for Cape Town

It’s almost time!!!

TWO WEEKS until I’m on a plane

Two weeks and a day until I get to Cape Town

Two weeks, three days until I start at my placement.

It’s been eight months since I started planning this trip, and after countless hours of anticipation I feel like this is truly happening and it’s not just a fantasy.

The funny, but not entirely uncommon thing that’s come of this is that I already want to do more trips like this. Whether it’s conservation in peru, or community building in Jamaica, the last half year of planning has already been the best of my life. I hope to always be on the edge of my seat like I am right now.

I hope to also have a job in the future, but who knows where life is going to take me.
I could be a traveling reporter… *sigh*

Outside of my future dreamworld: I currently just drank an immunization for travelers diarrhea. I know, gross, but apparently essential. It did however, reinforce that I only have two weeks to get everything in order.

I’ve only got about 100 lists going at the moment, so as long as I can consolidate and stay organized I’ll be good.

Here’s the DETAILS!!

As of this morning, details of my accommodation as well as placement were posted on my projects abroad page.

So here they are:

My Host Family
I will be staying with a family in the Pinelands area of cape town. Pinelands is a 10-15 minute drive from downtown Cape Town. While the area itself is considered a “coloured” suburb, there are many different types of racial backgrounds as a result of Cape Malay slaves brought in from all over the world.

Afrikaans is the most commonly spoken language in this neighbourhood, so maybe I will learn a phrase or two while I’m gone.

As for the family and the house. Apparently they are on the wealthy side, and have a security alarm, pool and the room where I will be staying has a separate entrance from that of the house.
It looks like I will be staying with another housemate, which is exciting as I’ll hopefully have someone to peruse around Cape Town with.

They have 4 children, COUNT ‘EM FOUR!
The oldest is an 8 year old, and one of them is a new baby.

From the description on the site they sound like very nice people, and I’m already excited to taste the curry that they are “known for”!


It looks like I’ll be working on one of Cape Towns tabloid style newspapers, The Daily Voice.
While a quick google search came up with very little but articles about the paper, There is a run-down of their type of coverage on my Projects Abroad page:

The Daily Voice is the most widely read newspaper in Cape Town. During apartheid, the freedom of press and free thinking was severely restricted, that is why the Daily Voice, gives “voice” to those previously restricted to writing and free spech. The Daily Voice is quite a sensationalist newspaper, however the stories written are all true! The majority of the Daily Voice’s readers tend to be people living in the townships in a lower socioeconomic status as this paper is focused on these area’s news and daily happenings.

However, here is an in-depth article about tabloid style newspapers in Cape Town:

I’ll be doing what a normal intern does; shadowing professional journalists and going out to some of the townships (where this paper focuses their attention, as this is their audience) and hopefully conducting interviews on my own to write articles.

The good news is that I’m not expected to dress up, the bad news is that I’m not required to dress up as we’ll generally be heading into townships and I’ll need to fit in.

From everything I’ve researched and been told about Cape Town, the biggest concern is going into townships. That unless I’m with someone who knows exactly who to talk to, or exactly where to go and how to act, I should never go there.

These are the poorest of the poor areas, and while I have a chance to learn a lot about what really ails Cape Town, I’m terrified because these townships are where the highest concentrations of crime exist.

In conversation with a teacher of mine who is originally from South Africa, he hopes that I’ll be able to get past the top layers of what it means to be South African, and learn a lot about South African media.
There is a possibility that I could use this internship towards my mandatory school one, so as not to be as stressed about finishing it next year for marks, but having fun while in placement in Toronto.
There is also a possibility that I could use my experiences and contacts that I make in South Africa to write my magazine article in Convergence on New media in South Africa and what kinds of problems, if any, they are facing.

There’s nothing left for me to do to prepare for this, but get myself in an open-minded, sponge-like state of mind.
For the rest of May I’m going to read as much as possible about Cape Town and South Africa, and learn a lot about townships and their government.

(Of course… there is still lots of shopping to be done…)

30 Days and counting…

38 Days and counting..

As school is coming to a close (finally) I’m getting more and more anxious.
I’ve already made multiple lists of things I’m taking, what I need to do and things I still need to buy,not to mention how I’m going to divvy up my paychecks between savings, my credit card and spending.

But there isn’t a list that I can make to hide how excited I am.

Sometimes, and I think it mostly happens at work, I get an incredibly anxious feeling in my stomach. Like gigantic butterflies that are fighting to the death.

Lord only knows how much more anxious I can get… sooner or later it will feel like someones doing construction to the inside of my stomach and the flips and somersaults will begin to hurt.

Sometimes I feel like I’m over preparing… is there such a thing?

Everythings coming into place

So Andrew’s ticket to Amsterdam has been booked, after weeks of waiting to hear back from his boss about whether he was actually allowed to take those days.

(Some other woman in his office booked the same EXACT days so that she can go to the cottage.. Who plans that 4 months in advance?!?!)

I bought a super fancy suitcase that’s made out of the same stuff they make bullet-proof vests out of, AND it has a 25 year warranty.

I discovered that my luggage is going to be transferred 10 times while I’m on this trip.
Handled TEN TIMES.
On in T.O, Off in Amsterdam, On in Amsterdam, Off in Cape Town. On in cape town, Off in Amsterdam. On in Amsterdam, off in Minneapolis, On in Minneapolis, Off in T.O.


I’m terrified of loosing a suitcase. Terrified. I’m going to do everything I can to prepare myself in case one of them DOES get lost, but nothing can calm my fears of a lost suitcase.
I wonder what the ratio of passengers who arrive at their destination, luggage in hand is compared to those whose luggage gets lost.
Maybe I don’t want to know..

I’ve come up with many cute ideas of things to bring my host family.
A jar of maple syrup (made fresh from a maple tree by my aunt and uncle) and a stuffed moose or beaver with a Canada flag on it.

I can’t wait until I find out the details.
Less than a month ’till I find out!!

50 days until I leave!

Some devastating news…

I just found out that because of the electrical differences I may not be able to bring my hair straightener to South Africa.

This means one of three things:
1. I’m going to have to get an AMAZING haircut that doesn’t require daily straightening
2. I’m going to have to wear my hair curly for two months (N0o0o0o0o0o)
3. Andrew is going to have to teach me the ways of power transformers so that my hair straightener won’t blow up when I try to use it.

This may seem petty to some, but I am kind of a princess… haha…
Oh, the comforts that I’ve become so accustomed to..

In other news:
I’ve started shopping for some necessary items. Power adapters, no jet-lag remedies, some clothes and miscellaneous first aid items.

I wish I knew where I’ll be working/staying, but alas, I have to wait another month to find out.

I need ideas for nice little gifts to bring the family that I’ll be staying with, so far I’ve thought of some nice Ontario wine, but that’s all I’ve got. I want to bring a couple nice things from home that they wouldn’t have there, but I’m not too sure what really represents Toronto that isn’t cheesy.

Booked and ready to go..

So everything’s booked. Projects Abroad knows my itinerary so they can meet me at the airport and I’m more excited than ever.

This is going to be so much fun.

I can’t wait, So much that I’m already counting down the days.
(check out my countdown clock at the bottom of the page)

36 days until schools done, 65 days before I leave.

Step 2: Almost check

Step number two in getting into Africa is buying my plane ticket.

I’ve been researching ticket prices for ages, and am ending up spending a little more than I had previously hoped, but am going to finish off my Cape Town adventure with another.

Amsterdam is a natural stopover point both too and from Cape Town, so why not stay and hang out a bit?
Who do I know that has wanted to go to Amsterdam the entire time I’ve known him?
My very own boyfriend.

So, tomorrow I’m going to book my flight leaving May 29th and arriving in Cape Town the next night. Then I’ll be leaving Cape Town on July 29th and arriving in Amsterdam the next morning to meet up with Andrew to visit some museums, ride bikes around town, ride a boat down a canal at sunset and take in some of the prime Amsterdam night life.

This isn’t going to take away from the real purpose of my trip, but I had noticed that many of the flights arranged between Toronto and Cape Town had hour-long stopovers in Amsterdam, so why not make use of it?

When else will I get the chance to travel without constraints?

Step 1: Check

Thanks to my beautiful and wonderful mother I had enough space on my credit card to pay my final Projects Abroad balance.

This means that I am ever closer to getting to South Africa.

This means that now they can start doing what they do best: arranging everything.
My accommodations, my flight (which I still have to pay for…), my placement, my insurance and the list goes on.

My next steps?

Too many to list, but that includes shopping for things I’ll need, such as a complete first aid kit, luggage (maybe), and proper running/hiking shoes so that I can climb that mountain.

I do love shopping…

I can’t even wait.

Also, I talked to the wonderful and fabulous Stacey (a.k.a Vivi Diamond) who says that I could host a party at the Bovine. Meaning simply that I do all the promotion for it and get 10% of the bar.
So, it will be a theme night, South Africa of course. Tribal or safari gear is in order!!

The date has yet to be decided, and the poster is yet to be created, but it is a start.

It will be a going away/fundraising party so everyone should come.
Also, any extra money that I raise beyond the cost of my trip I will donate to a charity in South Africa. Likely an orphanage or school, but I don’t know yet.

Dr. Terrifying

I just got back from my family doctor. I made the appointment for the sole reason that I needed to know which immunizations I need so I wouldn’t end up in a hospital in South Africa.

His face almost instantly fell.

So he started rattling off a long list of things: typhoid, yellow fever and malaria being the big ones, before he starts talking about the last time that he was in SA.

Friends of his had their camera stolen from a soldier wielding a machete, he got in a handful of car accidents because of the ridiculousness of the drivers, (his words), and he himself had been mugged numerous times.

Lets put this into context now, shall we?
He left in 1989. That’s 5 years before apartheid ended, and TWENTY years ago, I would say he was there during the thick of things.
He was working in a clinic in Welgemoed, a suburb North of Cape Town. It is so small, that when I googled it, all I got was a list of bed and breakfast type accommodations.

He cannot rattle me.

The fact that when he referenced the camera being stolen his friends weren’t even allowed to ask for their “film” back makes his worry a little ancient.

Plus, if everywhere in the world was as comfortable as here, what would be the use in traveling and learning about different cultures?

Back to the immunizations: he couldn’t even do anything for me there. I’ll have to go to a travel clinic and pay for all the injections and concoctions.
Add another $200 to the travel costs.

Whatever, It’ll be so worth it.

A very brief overview

Many of you may be wondering, “why South Africa, why Cape Town?”

The answer is quite simple: It’s cool.

It is such a culturally diverse city that there eleven officially recognized languages, but English is the most commonly spoken.

The thing about South Africa, and Cape Town in particular, is that there are spots that are very wealthy and parts that are living in poverty. This inequality is the reason that there is a high level of crime.

I’ve been assured, however, that as long as I’m street smart and don’t travel on random streets by myself at night, I’ll be alright. Considering that I’ve grown up in Toronto, I think that I may know a thing or two about street smarts.

I could have chosen a number of different places to do a journalism internship through Projects Abroad, Moldova, China, Romania and even Ghana. I chose Cape Town because while it is a bustling metropolis, there is so much surrounding it to do and see.

Of course, another deciding factor is that the fate of journalism in Cape Town is looking quite good, as the city has been democratic since the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid in 1994.

There are 12 official newspapers in Cape Town, as well as 5 national newspapers, some of which are printed in Afrikaans.

To get an idea of Cape Town news, check out the Cape Times:

Some of the attractions in South Africa include Table Mountain, the Mountain named for its flat, table-like top that looms over the city.

Robben Island is where all political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were held during the times of apartheid and was closed as a prison in 1981 and reopened in 1996 as a museum.

There is, of course, nightlife, beaches and lots of shopping among some of the less adventurous endeavors such as rappelling, safaris (to see “the big five” lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos & rhinos), bungee jumping, snorkeling, and hiking.

If you wanna get jealous, check this out: