Thursday, 9 August 2012

What to do when you don't have class..

Sophie and Emma having a jump

As some of you know or may not know, I am indeed studying in South Africa at the Monash University here. It is in Joburg, but it's approximately 45 minutes from the centre of town, 2 hours with bad traffic.

That's a good and a bad thing.

It means that we're not near the extremely 'dangerous' parts of Joburg, where apparently crime is a part of everyday life. So Mum and Dad don't stress too much,I'm pretty safe. But that also means that there is not much around the University, and the only way you can go anywhere is by 'taxis' which are essentially people who don't mind waiting out the front of our Uni to give us lifts places, and we pay them.

Where I live is called Ruimsig, pronounced Roomzig, or Roym-zig, depending on who you talk to. But when you say it you must put a bit of a harder sound on the R, making it sound like you've got a bit of flem in the back of your throat. Have a go, it's pretty fun to say! And just to give you a sense of how lively Ruimsig is, one South African friend told us that Ruimsig is known as a place of retirement, for people to leave the hustle and bussle of the city for a quieter, more serene part of the world.

I live at the top left of the map!
For me, having not much to do is something that I'm not familiar with. Back in Melbourne I was a very busy beaver trying to fit as much into the day as possible, be it work, uni, umpiring and the like. However, down in Ruimsig town it's a bit of a different story. I only have 7 hours of Uni a week, which can go down to 6 depending on how chatty the lectures are. This 7 hours is split up between two days. Monday 8-10am and Wednesday 10-12pm, 12-1pm and 4-6pm. So as you might imagine I have quite a lot of spare time, or at least that's what it seems like. Spare time to do lots of Uni work, get organised for the semester and start assignments early. Well, this is what I try to do, but sometime I'm not as successful as I'd hope to be.

So here's a little list of the things that I, along with roomies (Sophie, Emma and Gaelle) and the other exchange kids (Marion, Rachel, Oli, Tom, Matt, Owen and Hilmi) like to do when we don't have class.

Activity 1: Paintball!
The boys in the group discovered after a few days of being here that there is in fact a paintball place about a 5 minute tax ridi from the Uni! How awesome is that!? So of course we had to try it. The boys went first to give it a go and came back with a few bruises but mostly raving about how great it was. So a bigger group went the next time, but at night time for a bit of mortal combat by night by paintball. We got our overalls on, our masks at the ready and our guns ready to fire and off we went for a 2-3 hour battle of paintball! We split into teams and tried hard not to get hit but hit as many people as you could in the mini games that we played. We each bought between 200-400 paintballs so that meant that people would be hit quite a lot. And all this for about AU$20! Nothing like the $100 or more it can cost to do it in Melbourne! By the end of the night I had only been hit a few times, one in the head (I'm going to get you back whoever did that!) and in the legs a few times, but all that only resulted in one bruise..winning at paintball! Some others didn't fair so lucky but all in all we survived shooting paintballs at each other and will definitely be venturing back there soon!

Most of the gang at paintball!

Activity 2: Featherbrooke 
The local shopping complex is about a 10 minute walk down the road and is called Featherbrooke. It is home to pretty much everything we need. You've got the local supermarket called Pick N Pay, the local fast food eateries of KFC, Wimpy's and Steers, the FNB Bank (where we spent many an hour trying to set up a bank account), the Bottle-o, the local cafe of Mugg and Bean, the more upmarket supermarket of Woolworths (the sponsor Masterchef SA, yes they have it here too) and the famous Stones bar slash nightclub, but I'll talk about that in more detail later.

We venture down to Featherbrooke between once and four times a week depending on how good our 'big' shop is at the start of the week. The boys tend to venture down there a bit more as they enjoy the taste of Wimpy's and KFC (affectionately known as the Dirty Bird). It's a pretty extensive little shopping area and serves our simple needs of living on res, cooking for ourselves and sometimes having a class of red vino and cheese to top it all off. Mugg and Bean also do a steller ice coffee that we've only tasted once but I feel that another tasting needs to happen soon!

Activity 3: Soccer 
As I only have 7 hours of Uni a week, I decided that I needed something stable to fill in my time and to prevent me from suffering severe boredom. Unfortunately there is no AFL team at Monash SA, therefore no team for me to umpire, so the next best thing was what I used to do for many a year- soccer. So in the first week of semester I went down to the soccer oval to see if there was a team for me to join. As it turned out I was the only girl that turned up for training that day, but the coach reassured me that more girls would turn up and that there was indeed a women's soccer team. So on this first day I trained with the boys, which was a little intimidating and I think I only got one or two touches.

I was told by my coach that soccer training was everyday, so the next day I turned up and one other girl was also there, the captain. This was slightly promising. I just kicked the ball around with Si (the captain) for about an hour while watching the boys train then returned home. So this pattern has been as following for the past 2 weeks. However training has increased, where we run five laps of the oval (the other girls aren't happy about this), kicking the ball around, playing little games and shooting for goal. At the moment the highest number of people we have had at training has been 5. But I am told that we do in fact have enough people for the team.

Our first game was meant to be on Tuesday, but due to the snow, yes you saw right, it snowed here on Tuesday, in Africa, in Joburg..we couldn't play the game. We were suppose to be playing in Pretoria which is about an hour and a half away, but there was too much snow on the field so we didn't venture out there. I was a little relieved as it was about 1 degree and the temperature only would have got colder, but also a little bit disappointed as it would have been cool to play in the snow and throw snowballs at the opposition. Maybe next time. So that is what I do pretty much every afternoon from about 4.15pm to 5.30pm.

Activity 4: Stones
Stones is the local nightly hangout for mostly Monash people and a few randoms who want to let their hair down, shake their badonkadonks (bottoms) and also play pool if they so desire. It's at Featherbrooke so is very easy to get to. We have been twice, the first time the week before Uni started which meant that it was rather dead and we were one of very few people there for most of the night. The second time was a lot busier and we realised that the later you arrive the better it is.

The dancefloor is where it is at at Stones. It can be described as a glitterbox. The walls are plated top to tail in shiny little mirrors that make it looks like it's glittering. And the music is pretty swell too. I'll have to admit that I did go rather crazy when 'Starships' by Nicki Minaj came on. Maxees you may know what I'm talking about! Such a good song! I had a good jive to that, and lucky for me I have friends here that are willing to dance as crazily as I do. Thanks Soph and Susant :)

Tom and I on the d-floor!
There are also many pool tables at Stones that have had my name on them. Although I'm not very good at pool, I do enjoy a good game. And a good game I had the other night. I was down and out to the master player Owen, but somehow I manage to scramble my way back into the game. We were suppose to be playing in partners, mine being Sophie, Owen's being Susant, but the other two seemingly forgot that we were playing an intense game of pool so it was up to us to finish it. Owen skipped out to a lead of pretty much sinking all but two or three balls plus the black one while I had about six more to down. Somehow I got about 3 in a row, then Owen missed his and I got another two. The final shot was mine to sink, the black ball, and I got it in, but the white ball went in as well. I don't exactly know the rules of pool but I think that means I lose..but gentleman Owen awarded me the win. I think I was pretty much the only one in the place that thought our game was extraordinarily epic. Maybe it's my warped sense of pool that made it so, but I still enjoyed having a play! So that is Stones, pronounced Stooones, with a posh accent, just because it's a cool thing to do.

Activity 5: TravellingHaving two days of Uni a week leaves a bit of time for exploring. And having Thursday and Friday off makes it even better. Therefore, this weekend I am going to Rwanda (to visit my brother David) for 5 days while the rest of the gang goes to Oppikoppi, a music festival about 3 hours from here. They have hired two cars, packed full with food, clothes and the like and have just made it to the festival. For some reason the festival was giving away free tickets to anyone that holds a valid Australian passport, so that meant pretty much all of the group bar 2-3 got free tickets. So random yet so perfect. I leave for Rwanda tomorrow morning and fly 5 and a bit hours to see my lovely brother for the first time in a long time. I'm very excited to see him and I know we're going to have a great time catching up, seeing the sights of Rwanda and doing whatever David has in store for us.

I'll update you guys on my Rwandan travels in the next blog, as well as what I got up to on my birthday..oh yeah I'm 21 now, how cray!

Lots of love xox

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