Happy New Year folks, hope everyone had a great Christmas and 2016 is treating you well so far. I’ve been on the move for the last few months in places where wifi hasnt been the easiest thing to access so I’m just catching up on some blogs now.
This festive season was a whole new experience being my first Christmas and New Year away from Scotland. One of the big considerations when applying to study abroad particularly internationally is whether to come home for Christmas. For many this is a very costly trip therefore being away over the festive period becomes a deciding factor in accepting an international place. While many wouldn’t want to spend Christmas away from home it is an experience that could really top off your time abroad and one that I absolutely loved.
For as long as I can remember my family has spent Christmas in exactly the same way, even the small things like breakfast have never changed and always includes a beasting bacon roll. However, since moving to South Africa my concept of seasons has gone out the window. Going from summer in Scotland to spring/summer in SA meant that even when December came around Christmas didn’t really cross my mind. As classes came to a close and exams finished I was buzzing for the start of the much anticipated African summer & thanks to a few friends I headed to Namibia for December. Here I was swept into the life of the Kruger’s where there was never a dull moment. I spent the month having a great time embracing all things Afrikaans and shown why all Namibians are so proud of their country!
The first interesting factor was the language. Surprisingly enough the basics Afrikaans app that I had on my phone didn’t really cut it, & for the majority of the time when the chat was in Afrikaans I had no idea what anyone was saying. Despite my lack of Afrikaans knowledge I was surprised at how I eventually started to understand conversations…well kind of! The language differences definitely didn’t dampen my experience and provided many humorous situations. After suffering through 4 years of German in school (which has proven useless) I had completely shut of the idea of learning another language, however living somewhere where English wasn’t the go to language opened my mind to the benefits of being multilingual.
I think I’ve been lucky that during the first 6 months after moving away I hadn’t ever felt significantly homesick but not going to lie I had no idea what to expect from Namibia and its description on Wikipedia wasn’t much better. However, of all the places I’ve travelled it’s definitely been one of my favourites. Instead of being wrapped up in 3 jumpers and soaked every day the sun was out creating a lovely outside lifestyle. This meant activities like camping (which you wouldn’t catch me doing in Scotland) were actually enjoyable especially since we were surrounded by game like elephants, hippos, zebra! I was in Namibia for around a month and
almost every night without fail we had a braai (bbq). Being able to chill outside with a few drinks while the braai is going created a really cool atmosphere and something I wish we could do every night in Scotland. Also food from a braai compared to from the oven (or the microwave in my mum’s case) is 100 times better!
On another note the festive season in Namibia was very much focussed on spending time with family. Back home I think this is something that has been lost to a certain extent, apart from Christmas and New year’s the focus is much more on socialising with friends & drinking etc. While this is definitely not a bad thing, spending time with the Kruger family and seeing how many things they do together made me wish that my own family could do more together as well!
A few of the most memorable new activities I found myself being roped into was learning how to sokkie. This is a type of dance that the Afrikaners love just as much as any Scot enjoys a good ceilidh. However, I soon realised that the rhythm of the dance resembled nothing like any ceilidh or social dance and while everyone else looked very graceful it’s safe to say I missed a few steps. It’s an interesting dance in the sense that the man really is in complete control so I’ve come to the conclusion my lack of moves must have been down to having a shocking partner…I won’t name and shame because I guess we can’t all be perfect!
My new discoveries in Namibia didnt end at the strange dancing. I found a new love for blue cheese which happened to find its way into nearly everything I ate. Also I’m convinced I ate more meat in one month than I ever have in my entire life and while it was so good I’m paying for it now at the gym. As crazy as it seems I found myself singing along to Afrikaans music that I didn’t even understand but I can assure you it’s quite catchy when you listen to it enough. I also found myself practically drowning at the coast as everyone convinced me that it was a good idea to go and jump into the biggest waves that exist. Despite nearly dying and consuming an unhealthy amount of water in the process it was actually really fun!
Overall, did I miss home? Not really, I missed the people not the place but being surrounded by smashing new people made the experience so enjoyable and one I would recommend to all students who study abroad internationally.