The sun rises around 5 a.m and the 72 roosters in the neighborhood begin their gossip. The taxi drivers fight the rooster crows with the habitual honking of their horns, and the neighborhood dogs bark in whatever little slips of silence are left. The mornings are bright, hot, and loud. Welcome to Cato Manor, my home away from home in Durban, South Africa.
Every morning I wake up with the sun, 2 hours before I need to be at the bus stop. I make breakfast, brush my teeth, and wipe the gallons of sweat from my face. My host mama wakes up an hour later than I do since she is able to sleep through the daily morning alarms. It is mama, myself, and my 32-year-old bhuti (brother) living in my host home. I feel very welcomed and safe in my home and even with all the chaos outside, the mornings are calm and slow rolling.
I start walking to the bus stop at 7:00 AM in order to get there by 7:15 AM. I pass many mamas waving their children off to school, every single one of them greeting me with “sawubona!” as I pass. The roosters and dogs are everywhere, the sun beats through the clouds and the lawless taxi’s fly by. I’ve tried to pet the dogs but they aren’t having it. The local kids wave to me from their front yards with beaming smiles. I feel safe walking to my stop, I know there is an entire community looking out for me.
My peers and I hurl into our SIT taxi at 7:15 AM and make our way to the office. Our classes are held in an office building in Mugsgave which is essentially a suburb of Durban. We have class from 8 AM to 3:30 PM every day. It’s wild going back to a full schedule and having class every single day. We have to do this in order to accomplish a 12 s.h. workload in 7 weeks. It’s not bad, it makes the mornings go by quickly. Once we finish our classes, we begin working on our research and internships.
I love my classmates and I’ve already grown SO MUCH in the first two weeks. This program without a doubt is actively changing my life and the fact I can actually FEEL it is mind-boggling. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to participate in this program and I am already so glad I chose a non-traditional study abroad route.
Views from my Homestay in Cato Manor
Emily Smith is a global health major at the University of Iowa. A native of Cedar Rapids, IA, and 2018 Gilman Scholarship awardee, she is spending her semester in Durban, South Africa on the SIT South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy program.
Student blog entries posted to this International Accents page may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UI Study Abroad and International Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.