Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning Experiences


(Top left): Project Runway night with the girls! So much fun. (Top right): Sidewalk art with my ridiculously cute 7/8th graders. (Bottom left): Last night's incredible sunset. (Bottom right): Made Egyptian mummy masks with the 9th graders!

Hello all! To change things up a bit from my usual format, I thought this week I’d share with you some of the funny things my American self have learned and experienced while being in South Africa. Some of them are pretty funny…

  • Napkins don’t in fact mean napkins here. I learned this the hard way when I asked at a restaurant if someone would pass the napkins in front of the entire team of teachers only to find that “napkins” are feminine products here. “Serviettes” is what they call napkins. I caught on to that one fast.

  • Don’t try ordering an iced coffee unless you want a full on coffee milkshake. That’s what their iced coffee is here. I’ve tried ordering iced lattes a couple times and it always puzzles the barrista to no end. “You want me to put ice in your latte?!” The whole concept is foreign to them.

  • Speaking of coffee, I was incredibly confused when Di, one of our wonderful local staff members let me know she borrowed my “plunger” to make coffee for some guests. Umm, sorry? Turns out that’s what they call a French press. That conversation got incredibly funny fast.

  • Bugs crawling/landing on you at all times of the day become second nature. I feel like every day a new creature visits me and violates me in some way. Yesterday evening I had a bug fly into my eye only to discover it still in my eye this morning! I’m still trying to tell myself it was makeup.

  • After a month here, I still don’t know where the passenger seat is in a car. I have to follow the driver and see which way they get in before I get in and feel so dumb every time. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it before I leave.

  • Speaking of things being on the opposite side, here are a few other opposites: I’ve noticed on several faucets (including my shower) that hot and cold are switched. Also, my fridge door opens on the opposite side. That took a while to get used to.

  • My brain refuses to convert rand into dollars, kilometers into miles, military time into regular time, and Celsius into Fahrenheit. Nope, not gonna happen. I’ll just go along with it when people bring any of it up. “Oh my gosh it’s going to be forty degrees today?! Yeah that’s sooooo hot!” Right, to me that sounds pretty cold actually.

  • Do not leave your trash sitting there too long! I learned this the hard way. One night I put the rest of an old chicken in the trash only to open it the next morning and find it literally infested with maggots! It took everything in me not to scream and vomit simultaneously. That was by far my most disgusting experience here so far.

  • There is a way for a movie addict like me to keep up with my shows and stream movies while I’m here! It’s called a VPN and it’s a beautiful thing.

…I thought for fun I’d also include some food items I've found are better and ones I think are worse (or at least not what I'm used to) in South Africa. (This is just from my personal experience and Of course it might be different for everyone):


  • Diet Coke! Or Coke Light, as they call it here. I swear they put something magical on it or something. There’s no comparison, it’s far superior! I’m going to miss it when I go home and most likely won’t be able to drink our Diet Coke again.

  • Cheddar cheese. Don’t ask me why, but all of the cheddar cheese I’ve bought/tried here is better than any I’ve had at home. I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s just…better!

  • Their Cadbury bar selection! Don’t even get me started on how many Cadbury bars I’ve consumed since I’ve been here. It’s not a healthy number. But I can’t help myself when I’m surrounded by so many different flavors! Cashew coconut, rum raisen, top deck, mint crisp, macadamia nut…the list goes on and on! It’s too much for the chocolate monster inside me!

  • Their cream cheese flavors. I just discovered this and my world has been changed. Where the heck can I find blue cheese flavored whipped cream cheese at home?! Tell me and I’ll love you forever.


  • Their coffee selection. Almost everything is instant in the stores. Common people! I’d pay big bucks for a Starbucks iced latte right now.

  • Their nut prices. I love eating nuts at home and was sorely disappointed when I saw how outrageously expensive nuts are here! Lame.

  • Their apple selection. I’m used to a wide variety of choices at home. Here there are about three choices tops but I’m used to seeing only two. Green, and reddish ones that are super grainy. Green it is.

So there you go. I thought I’d give you all a little insight into some of my random little discoveries and learning experiences I’ve had here so far. It’s been an adventure! Thanks for keeping me in your prayers! Until next week!


  1. Addi, thanks for the fun post. It helps me picture your experiences there when I read about the normal, daily stuff. I'm trying to get ready for the bugs!! The "napkin" story is hilarious! Ha ha! Wish I coulda been there to see the reactions. Can't wait to see you in Africa!!! xoxo Mom

  2. Addi:

    Go north, young lady, to Rwanda where you can enjoy an iced coffee latte that puts Starbucks to shame. And it comes with a napkin.

  3. Addi, I'm really enjoying reading your posts. Thank you for sharing! I can tell that God is transforming you through this journey. Yes, one of my favorite parts about traveling is being immersed in a different culture and noticing all of the differences. Your napkin story is too funny! Enjoy the rest of your time there :) Christina

  4. Great post, Ads -
    and thanks for reminding me about 'napkins' -I had the opportunity for extreme embarrassment in England dating your Uncle Chris - talk about mortified!
    (wonder if the phrase "I'm Stuffed" is just as bad there as the U.K.) - trust me, don't say it.
    And as for the chocolate: Hope you enjoy your Bourneville Bars! (stock up in London if they don't have them in South Africa)
    Love and hugs, Auntie C.