A day or two will go by and I’ll barely remember that I’m living 5,000 miles away from home until I notice the quirky yet routine differences between Cape Town and Washington DC. I’ve put together a short (fun) list on some culture shock triggers that always remind me I’m far from home:
1.Wearing shoes in Cape Town is entirely optional. On nice and sunny days, you’re sure to find a handful of students on campus going about their business barefoot. The closer you get to the beach, the fewer people with shoes you’ll see. I tried this one custom out for myself today. I went to the city’s botanical gardens barefooted and delighted. I didn’t get one strange look on the way, and feeling the grass beneath my feet was incomparable, but the soles of my feet sure did hurt when I got back inside.
2.Minibus drivers will yell at anyone and everyone to get them on board. They’ll even yell amongst themselves when driving close by to each other (all friendly, of course). Main road in any part of Cape Town is laden with minibuses and the persistent hollering so quintessential to the minibus industry.
3.Barbed wire around every single wall serves to remind us of the crime so present within South Africa. I remember how uneasy the barbed wire made me when I first arrived, but it always prompts me to be careful and aware of my surroundings.
4.Traffic light’s are called “Robots.” I still can’t stop chuckling when someone asks to turn at the “robot.”
5. Greetings are of the upmost importance to Cape Townians. Almost every interaction begins with, “Hello, how are you?” to remind everyone we’re all human.