Two weeks of DTS have come and gone with so much to get used to and so many new people to meet that the time has been vanishing as if it were being sucked into a giant vortex.
We are a class of 16 students, 8 guys and 8 girls, which is nice as you don’t have to share a room with more than 2 other people. We’re probably going to suffer on outreach because we’ve had it too easy, but at the moment I’m just enjoying the luxuries of space and extra time in bed that living with fewer people bring. We’re worked hard, both in lectures and during our work duties (keeping the place clean and making sure everyone gets fed) but there’s enough free time for me to perfect my tree climbing skills. Well, I say perfect … really it’s just nice to be able to climb something without people telling you you’re setting a bad example for the children or worrying that you’re going to fall out. I’m not sure that I’m actually improving at all.
Living in close quarters with people of many different nationalities has been a steep learning curve. I was used to working in an international environment, but it seems like all of your individual peculiarities come out when you are living together, which makes for some amusing cultural clashes. For instance, trying to eavesdrop on your roommate’s late night phone conversations (which is completely legitimate when they’re keeping you awake to make said phone call) is much harder when it’s in Afrikaans, but at least that’s a Germanic language and not an African one. I can usually get the gist.
For over half of the group English is a second language, and I am constantly amazed by just how well they speak it. It really puts my language skills to shame. I’m attempting to rectify this by learning some Afrikaans, but have discovered that an inability to roll my ‘r’s is a major drawback. Apparently, it makes my feeble attempts sound very ‘country’, which wasn’t really the effect I was going for. My first phrase, apart from ‘lekker slaap’, was ‘ek kan nie Afrikaans praat nie’ (I don’t speak Afrikaans), but I’m afraid to say that I chickened out of my first opportunity to use it when asked for directions in the street and just played the tourist card. Major language confidence fail.
Oh well, we can’t all be good at everything, and there is so much going on here that there is very little time for language learning. So many awesome things have happened in just two weeks, that I know that God must have amazing things in store for the rest of the DTS. We’re just getting ready to take the plunge …