Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Day In The Life

I did this a while ago, but it's been a while, so I figured I'd just write a "life-in-Swaziland-at-UWC" post. An overly detailed post, but hey, maybe you're interested.

06:45 - Multiple alarms go off. It's a little bit chaotic in my room at exactly six o'clock, and while I'm a light sleeper who doesn't need four alarms, I'm just paranoid that three of them won't go off or something. That never happens, and so I always have four alarms going off at exactly the same time.

Anyways, I wake up my friend from India, and five minutes later we're walking out of hostel in our sweatshirts and hats. Mind you, it's winter in June in the southern hemisphere, and while I refuse to call the daytime weather "cold," at six in the morning, before the sun comes up, there's frost on the ground and it is quite cold.

We're not up at six because we're crazy - six o'clock is running time. I normally run up the mountain and down, and then run a mile or two around the field, but I donated blood yesterday, and was told not to do physical activity today, so I figured running was pushing it enough, and that I didn't need to involve any mountains today.

Side note, to anyone who doubts the idea of donating blood in what is technically considered a third world country with an AIDS rate of one in three, the lady got the needle into my vein on the first try. That's a lot more than can be said about blood drives in America.

06:45 - Done with running! We head back to hostel to shower and get ready for the day.

07:00 - I get ready really fast, and so right at seven, I head down for breakfast. The Emhlabeni, my hostel, is across campus from the dining hall, so it's a little bit of a walk, but campus isn't that big, and I get there pretty fast. Breakfast this morning was corn flakes with hot milk (they serve cold milk, but hot milk is much more popular here - it's an acquired taste), papaya, or "po-po," as it's referred to, toast, and a biscuit (biscuits in the American "biscuits and gravy" sense, not in the British "cookie" sense - I think I've been at an international school too long when I start clarifying things like that). Anyways, it was pretty good, and the hot tea was welcome, as it is every day in winter.

I  still can't get over how it's winter in June.

08:00 - My first class of the day - geography. My teacher is from Tanzania, and his accent adds an extra layer of difficulty into the lessons. As he puts it, "You cannot talk in my class! I don't speak good English, and half the class doesn't speak good English! We barely understand each other, much less with you talking in the background!" We're preparing for a field trip to Durban in a few weeks, so we were preparing stuff for our fieldwork there. And yes, Durban, South Africa. International field trips, yo.

08:40 - Maths! I've started calling it "maths" instead of "math," which makes me feel like a traitor to America, but hey, it's hard to resist. Anyways, we're working on trigonometry proofs in calculus. Yes, maths is the same everywhere around the world. It's not any more exciting in Swaziland than it is in America. Well, other than the fact that everyone here uses Casio calculators instead of Texas Instruments (I cling to my TI-84+ like it's a mathematical life vest. Casio confuses me).

09:20 - siSwati class. We go through some translations, and then just talk in siSwati for a while. I have nothing more to say about siSwati class, other than that uma ngikhuluma siSwati nebangani name, ngijabulile. Lesinye sikhatsi, ngiyasokola, kodvwa manje, ngati emagama kakhulu.

10:00 - Break time! This is kind of a weird concept that hasn't entered into American schools. In America, we have five minutes passing between classes. Here, classes start exactly as the last one ends, and you are just one or two minutes late all the time, but then there's a forty minute break right at ten o'clock every day. It's nice, and we get a snack, which is always welcome. Well, most of the time. Today is was a roll and hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is strange here too - it's not sweetened in itself, you have to add sugar. That might just be the school cafeteria though.

10:30 - Time for community service. A few of us headed over to the Mbabane government hospital, picked up a disabled guy who stays in the ward, and took him to the park. He's not properly cared for in the hospital, and so we take him out so that he doesn't have to sit in the same room the whole time. He doesn't speak, and doesn't really respond, but we try to entertain him, as you can definitely tell when something makes him happy. Today, we spun around on the carousel thing with him.

Let's just say that didn't make him happy.

Then, he went to take a nap, and so we chilled on the swings for a while. Some creepy guy yelled across the parking lot whether me and my friend fro South Africa wanted a push, to which we replied a very strong, "Cha!" Cha means no, and is pronounced more like "ta" that "sha," because "c" in siSwati is a click, not a sound that exists in English.

12:40 - We returned to school for a lovely cafeteria lunch. Today, I had pap, which is corn with the yellow shells taken off the kernels, then boiled and mashed up like potatoes. It's more rubbery than mashed potatoes, and not really my favorite food, but I'm sick of rice, which is the only alternative.

13:20 - French class! We practiced introductions for speeches in French, and then headed out a bit early. Compared to America, where teachers NEVER let you out before the bell, classes let out early quite often here.

14:40 - English. We talked for a bit about an assignment, and then surprise - we got out early!

16:00 - I headed over to the IT center to set up the computers for a computer class that I teach to some kids from SOS Village, an orphanage in Sidwashini, right by the school. They're super beginners are computers, which is really cool, so today we were working with the freeware version of Excel - LibreOffice Calc. We were just doing simple functions and graphing, but it's interesting to see what questions they had - what does the shift key do? How do I type a plus sign? How do I highlight the box?

17:30 - We wrapped up the computer class and headed over to the dining hall for dinner. In line at the dining hall, I got stopped by my second year from Mozambique, who asked if I wanted to come to supper club. Supper club is this thing where four or five students go to this one English teacher's house for supper, just to get away from eating in the cafeteria, at least for one meal. I enjoy it, and always go when invited, as it means several things: soda, nice glasses, a normal table, and conversation that doesn't revolve around school. Today, he also made us soup, which was a lovely bonus. To be honest, any food other than the cafeteria good brightens my day considerably. Conversation revolved around America's position in the world compared to China, and sex as a means to find religion. Definitely better conversation than "school," and it always amuses me that it's totally normal to have dinner a teacher's house here.

19:00 - Supper club wrapped up, and I headed over to the IT center, which I supervise on Thursday nights.

And that's where I find myself right now, about to start my homework. I hate to burst any bubbles about whatever Utopian life you imagine I have, chilling in Swaziland right now, but there's something you should know. While it is summer in the States, with warm weather and without school, it's currently winter here in Swaziland, and school is in session. I have siSwati to study, a math test tomorrow, a geography test next week, an English essay to write, and Physics formulas to study. Not saying that school isn't great and all, but I assure you, the next four hours of my night hold nothing entertaining enough to write about. And so, I'll summarize.

19:30 - Work on homework in the IT center.
21:30 - IT center duty ends, lock up the IT center, head back to hostel.
22:00 - Dance to some Indian music in the corridors, complain about life, hug and laugh about how complain-y we are, make some tea, complain about homework, procrastinate, and then finally go work.
24:00 (or 00:00, depending on how you look at it) - Give up on work and go to sleep. It's another long day ahead of me tomorrow!

Actually, tomorrow is a special day, and an really abnormally long day, but that's for another post.

And so you have it - a day in the life of a Waterford student!

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