Posted by: Naima | February 20, 2009

School’s In

This week marked two things: my first full month in South Africa and my first week of classes. For one of the first times, I began to make a mental transition from vacationer to student. I’ve become somewhat oriented with the Western Cape, and somewhat informed about the political situation here long with the upcoming election. Also, it’s nice to be on a campus again. UCT is about ten times the size of Bates campus-wise so I’m getting used to walking a lot when I miss the shuttle. (I will never complain about walking to Russel St. again.) This campus is gorgeous, too. Table Mountain looks over every department and the sun pretty much shines eternally. The students here are always dressed to the nines, which is rare at Bates. Most of us tend to roll into seminars as comfortable as aesthetically possible. Here’s a picture of Jameson Hall during our orientation, almost the quad of the University. Everyone walks through there at one point of the day, people are generally lounging in every corner (sunny or otherwise), the student center is just next door, the only thing missing are barefoot Batesies tight-roping between trees.


While I am a student at the University of Cape Town I am registered for four courses.

Writing and Editing in the Media: This class seems cool so far. We study pretty much all forms of writing for media. One of the things I like best is that for every discipline we focus on (radio, sportswriting, screenplay, copy editing), a different Professor who specializes in that field will lead the lecture. I really like classes with more than one Professor, I’ve had a couple of these at Bates, they provide more insight to subjects where there isn’t just one answer. Also, because the class is a humongous lecture, we are separated into smaller tutorials depending on the field of journalism we are all most interested in. I haven’t been placed into one (based on my preference) yet, so I’m pretty excited to see where I end up. The downfall of this class is that it’s an 8am. Waking up at 6:30am for a class was something I vowed never to do again last semester, but I really wanted to take this class so here I am. It’s slightly more manageable in Cape Town because it isn’t dark when you wake up and you don’t have to bank on your roommate waking up for encouragement. The sun rises early and sets late here so there are few excuses.

Comparative Politics: While the African-American Studies program often focuses on politics, I have never taken a Politics course at Bates. I kind of had a “no better time but the present” attitude about the subject and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about South Africa’s political structure in comparison to others around the world. This class also has tutorials, because of the lecture’s size, where we will be in groups of about twenty discussing in depth what we talk about in lectures. Similar to Writing and Editing in the Media, the downside to this class is its meeting time. Monday-Thursday at 5pm. It just starts to feel late, campus becomes empty, and after a day with an 8am – I’m exhausted. But I haven’t been disappointed with a class yet so it’s looking like I’m in for the long haul.


African Instruments/Ensemble: This class is a reintroduction to musical performance. If you know me well or have even read this blog a few times, you may be aware that I love music. That said, I haven’t played an instrument since middle school. This class is separated into classes of six people (i.e. Our Band) and we learn African folk songs on traditional African instruments like drums and xylophones and more  that have a lot in common with classically European instruments such as harps. Aside from our six-person sessions, everyone registered for African Instruments comes together to work as a larger ensemble with the instruments we’ve begun to learn in class. It’s dope, clearly.
Debates in Africa: This class is probably my favorite so far. It’s a graduate class at UCT so I was pretty nervous as the first class meeting crept up. The class explores the writings of African intellectuals during liberation movements in the continent. We’re reading so many interesting perspectives and it seems like we are really going to get our hands dirty with the material. Another plus side, the class has only 15 students in it. At a school as large as University of Cape Town, that seems like an impossible size. My cousin (who came to UCT when she went abroad as a Junior) strongly suggested taking a graduate school course. She promised it would be more like my home institution and incredibly enriching. Also, the number of students is more comfortable for me because most of my classes at Bates are of a similar size. Also, being at a graduate level invites only students who are really truly interested in the subject, not to mention peers of all ages. A few of my classmates are between their late-twenties/thirties, married, world travelers, and great story tellers. One of the best parts of the class are the lunches we have together afterward, where you get to know people outside of the classroom.

Since it’s Friday morning, and apparently my Professors don’t believe in class on a day so close to the weekend, I’m lounging in the sun just enjoying another sarong-draped day in beautiful Cape Town. No complaints.

Peace and then some,




%d bloggers like this: