Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) — Afro House King

My first trip to Johannesburg was in June 2014. I was able to travel from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg because when I first arrived in South Africa in January 2014 I got bumped from my SAA flight to PE. At that time I received a voucher for a round-trip flight from PE to Joburg for my trouble. I didn’t know what I would do in Johannesburg on my own because my university had done a terrific job of terrifying us of South Africa in general and Johannesburg more specifically.  Then, the US Embassy hosted a cooperative arts event between African American artists and South African artists and the theme was dealing with race in art. The Embassy held a contest on Facebook to give away tickets to this event. I entered and won! So, now I had a reason to go to Johannesburg coupled with the means to make the trip.

The next step I needed to take was to find a place to stay. I started searching through social media and found Curiocity Backpackers, which had just opened up for the summer travel season in December 2013.  I contacted Curiocity first through Instagram and then through their website. I was worried that this wasn’t a “real” place to stay, meaning that it wasn’t going to be nice or safe. I was able to book a very affordable room (approx. $19 USD/night) and I was able to pre-book transportation from the airport to the backpackers.

At this time Maboneng was just a fledgling community compared to how you find it today. But some of the anchors were already there like Shap Braai, Pata Pata, and Arts on Main. Another anchor that was present in Maboneng was the private security. When I arrived at Curiocity I was told that “at any time you don’t feel safe the security guards will walk with you.”

I took advantage of being in Johannesburg and didn’t just hideout waiting for my event at the embassy. I took a walking tour of the Central Business District (CBD), chatted with other travelers at the backpackers and arranged to go out with a few of them, and I really enjoyed the street vibe of Arts on Main. It was exhilarating to be here, in this city, and traveling/ discovering this place for myself and by myself.

One of the many things that I love about backpackers is that even when you are traveling by yourself, you are never really alone. Other people are traveling by themselves and you just decide to do something together. Additionally, backpackers hold events which allow guests to interact with each other and creates a sense of community within the hostel. In 2014, they were hosting different types of musicians at the backpackers. My first night there it was a punk band, but on Sunday it was much more chill with an unsigned singer/songwriter Msaki. I instantly fell in love with her voice and bought several of her CDs, one to keep and several to gift.

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Then, I added her as a friend on Facebook and follwed her on Instagram. I have really enjoyed seeing her succeed and bloom as an artist. Now, this Saturday, four and a half years after seeing her perform at the backpackers, I will get to see her on stage in front of thousands as she performs with The Real Black Coffee at his Music is King Festival!

I adore their new single and I am beyond stoked for Saturday!

Black Coffee’s Wish You Were Here is one of the major music from his new EP “Music is King“. “Wish You Were Here” featuring Msaki is already Buzzing all over the country and World. Check out this House masterpiece by Black Coffee. MUSIC: Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) FORMAT: Mp3 QUALITY: 224 Kbps […]

via Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) — Afro House King

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My heavy heart

I met with my students today for January’s study abroad. They are a small, but mighty group and I look forward to the ways they will challenge me as an instructor. One of the first tasks they do for the course is to create their blog. Then I follow them as a way to keep up with their writing throughout the study abroad program. Well, when I was connecting to their blog I had mine up and started scrolling through my posts.
I ran across this one and I’m about in the same place as I was in 2014 when I wrote it. I’m trying really hard to focus on all that I’ve had here. I’ve had amazing experiences that have enriched me in ways that I could not have imagined when I left the US back in July. I feel like my pedagogy has grown roots that now reach deep into the ground.
I have been trying to appreciate my time here, especially as it got down to the last 30 days in this apartment. I’m about to head back to the US for Christmas and then back here to teach my study abroad. My time here, in this place, in this way is about to come to an end. However, I do not want my relationship with Johannesburg or South Africa to come to an end. I don’t know how it will develop in the future, but I refuse to use the metaphor of an ex. I almost started to use that metaphor today since I have so often used the metaphor of a relationship to describe how I feel about South Africa and Jozi more specifically. Sometimes, I suppose, there is no clear metaphorical equivalency that helps other people understand. How can there be? I am not clear on this myself. The only metaphor that has ever really made sense to me is love. I deeply love this place, this city. Love is a complicated thing. So, we will go back to having a long-distance relationship when I leave at the end of January. Still, the relationship between us will exist and live into the future.

Star Thrower

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As I get ready to leave South Africa my time could quite easily be consumed with marking a list of lasts.  But then I would forget to marvel in the beauty that each new day brings. I keep thinking that this is a bittersweet moment. However, today I had a realization, my heart is not heavy from sadness. On the contrary, I leave South Africa with my soul opened, a wealth of new experiences, and friends. My heart is heavy with love.

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Travel, learn, reflect, repeat

Google “Things you learn from traveling” and you’ll get millions of results.  The first several pages of these results are those wonderful listicles.

While each of these lists have some overlap, each person’s experience is unique.  When you travel, where you travel, who you travel with, and that the purpose of your trip is will all help form your experience.

In less than a month I will be leading my third study abroad program. Each year I change the program slightly because the social movements in South Africa are changing from year-to-year. One of the key learning experiences for study abroad is stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to experience another culture. Once you realize that culture is like water, then the phrase “fish out of water” takes on a whole new meaning and an almost perfect metaphor for the travel experience.

img_2935I think the most important thing to keep in mind as you travel is to stay present. You will have many uncomfortable moments as you experience a new culture and the challenge is to stay in the moment, realize what you’re experiencing, and if you are lucky why you are experiencing the discomfort. Although, don’t stress if the why comes to you later because we can only process so much at once.

But if you can take time to reflect on your experiences as you travel then you can incorporate more of those experiences into your “real life”. Often when people travel they talk about going back to their real life; however, this whole experience is part of your real life. Here’s one of my favorite posts for the non-academic traveler of Qs and Ts (Questions and Tips) [click here]. For academic travelers who might be using travel or study abroad to enrich their research, I think this post on ethonography is fantastic [click here]. img_2936The experience of travel will keep giving to you even after you’ve returned home. You will have made new connections and had new experiences that will reverberate throughout all aspects of your life. Ask all the questions! Try all the food and dance to all the beats! Remember to take all the pictures!

 


Learning to write: from a chore to loving habit

My mother that taught me to write. I don’t mean technically, that I learned in school with two sets of alphabets boarding the top of our walls. One alphabet was on a cheeky train with animals that illustrated how to write the words. The second alphabet was printed on faux chalkboards illustrating the proper way to print letters. Each one showing the upper- and lower-case letters, 52 letters times two. But my mother taught me how to write.

She would leave cards on the breakfast table, stamped and addressed. “All you have to do is sign your name.” I think this started about the time I could make a sincere attempt at properly signing my name, probably about 7 or 8. The cards would be for different occasions, someone’s birthday, get well soon, or just to an older friend who needed some cheering up. If I didn’t sign my name at breakfast the card would wait for me. Sometimes days at a time. Finally, I would relent, sign my name or write something else as I got a bit older, and then I’d seal the envelope. Before leaving for school I would clip the envelope to the mailbox on our front porch where it would wait for Mr. Smith, our postman to pick it up on his route that day.

At home I have boxes that I have filled over the years, both of letters and cards. I have letters from friends and family dating back almost 30 years. In one of the boxes is the last card I received at boarding school from my grandma just days before she died. I saved the sympathy cards we received from her friends. I have birthday cards and Christmas cards. Each one a mini time capsule. There was a sequence of events that led to each of those cards being in my box. Someone went to the store, looked through a selection, decided which one was best, paid for it, took it home, wrote a note or just signed their name, and mailed it. The ritual is repeated over and over with care and love in each of those little pieces of paper.

My mom was constantly writing to someone. She would carry stationary in her purse or a card for someone whose birthday was coming up. When she had just a couple of moments, she would put it out and write a quick note. Often repeating her famous refrain, “you have to use your time wisely!”

When she died, I packed up her apartment and came home with two medium size boxes of stationary and note cards that she had on the ready. About six weeks after returning home I went to check the mail. I can still remember the bright warm afternoon as I walked out to my mailbox by the road. Then it hit me as I checked the mail that I was never getting a piece of mail from her again. Something that had been a daily occurrence since I left home at 15 was gone. I collapsed and experienced a new grief. I fell to the ground, held onto the post anchoring the mailbox into the earth, and sobbed. IMG_1242.JPG

Our lives now are filled with so much writing, with text. But I still prefer the method that will slow things down, even if just for a moment. Whatever my options for communication at any given moment, I will choose the slower one. Right now, on my dining room table are two stacks of cards. One ready to write and the other stamped and ready to mail back to the States. Each one is an echo of my mom urging an eight-year-old me to write.


Travel as rhetorical listening

I firmly believe that travel itself can be an act of rhetorical listening. Listening to the questions people ask you about yourself and your home country. Listening to what people reveal about themselves. And listening to the the culture as a whole when you travel.

Last night I heard a news report about the advertising awards and the winner of the gold prize was a radio advertisement for the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. I had to hear this advertisement several times to really process and listen to the message that was being conveyed.

Now, in an award-winning advertisement for the Apartheid Museum, called “Verwoerd”, Trump’s words have been cut together with H.F. Verwoerd, known as the “Architect of Apartheid”.

Hearing the audio clips back-to-back is jarring, but it does provide some new context for Trump’s words and actions that he has taken since becoming president. There is a part in the add that I think is supposed to be Trump that doesn’t sound like him and I’ve never heard that clip anywhere else. However, I think it does speak volumes to how this US president is perceived abroad and provides an interesting point of discussion for students who are learning about South Africa, but also America through another country’s eyes.


Reccomend One Book

My sister sent me an interesting article of book reccomendations from 22 Ambassadors to the United States from various countries. The premise of the piece was for the ambassadors to reccomendone book everyone should read before visiting their country [click here for the article].

Of course as a lecturer, I assign required reading all of the time. Additionally, as someone who teaches a study abroad program, I do require students to do quite a bit of reading before getting to South Africa. However, if I was going to reccomend a single book that everyone should read before visiting South Africa it would be Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (2016). born-a-crimeNoah’s ability to tell his personal story while at the same time teaching the reader about South Africa’s complicated history, makes this book a great read. For an extra treat, get the audio version of the book because its read by Noah himself.

 

What one book would you reccomend for people to read before visiting your country? Either your home country or the country you currently live in?


Travel Tips: but not that kind

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If you search for travel tips you can find all sorts.

  • How to book a flight to save the most cash
  • What you pack depending on where you’re traveling
  • How to eat like a local
  • Where to find the off-beat curioities of a particular area
  • Or safety tips depending on when and where you’re traveling

However, there are apects of travel that most people don’t talk about opening. Parts of travel and experiencing a new place can be difficult or a challenge. A lack of preparation for these challenges can make the traveler feel like they are doing something wrong or that something is wrong with them. Intercultural differences can definetly be a form of culture shock and if you aren’t prepared you could start becoming judgemental and closed off to your new location.

So, I wanted to write a post about some of these unspoken travel challenges.

  1. Space: Interpersonal space is not a universal concept. People from the US are used to having large amounts of personal space, even in a crowd. Our understanding of space and interpersonal space is a cultural concept.
    • Here’s a few articles that get into this concept a bit more:
      • “What personal space looks like around the world” [click here]
      • “How personal space boundaries vary in different countries” [click here]
      • “Which countries have the smallest personal space” [click here]
  2. Silence: Not just silence, but also when is it culturally approprate to speak and when are you expected to be quiet. Silience is a luxury that people living in most cities do not have. When you relocate to a new country or study abroad country you may find people talking when you would normally expect quiet, but noone else around you seems to be bothered by the noise. No, you aren’t alone or the first one to experience a struggle with this issue. Places that I’ve experienced this includes: movie theaters, conference presentations, airplanes, government offices…The funny thing is that when you do a search for “Why are [insert nationallity here] so loud?” You can find an article for almost every single country. Which just proves that its what we’re used to and then someone from another country or culture comes along and violates this norm. How we regulate noise levels or modulate our own voices is a cultural construct. So…here’s a few articles I found that speak to this issue.
    • “My cultural noise threshold is being violated” [click here]
    • “Cultural differences in percieving sounds generated by others” [click here]
    • “Why are Americans abroad so loud and obnoxious” [click here]
  3. Smiling: Okay y’all. I’m just going to be totally real on this one. Americans are a little obsessed with happiness and a bit too cheerful for the rest of the world (see the article above about us being loud and obnoxious). I mean, we really do smile, a lot. Is everything really awesome?! In your new country strangers probably won’t exhange smiles with you on the street (I still can’t help myself most of the time and that’s okay). But this doesn’t mean that they are being rude to you, its just not part of their cultural practice.
  4. Table manners: How we eat varies widely from country to country. We use different utenciles and the types of food that we consider to be staples varies. So, it makes sense that the idea of what is rude or not at the table would vary from culture to culture, as well.
    • Here are a few articles to help you understand how table manners are constructed around the world:
      • “A guide to table manners around the world” [click here]
      • “What proper etiquette looks like around the world” [click here]
      • “Dining etiquette around the world” [click here]
      • “Renaissance table etiqutte and the origins of manners” [click here]
  5. Public transportation: Now that you are in the other country, how are you going to get around? What looks like public transportation varies from country to country and you may be missing out on a budget friendly transportation option.
    • What are the some of the varieties of transportation options?
      • “Around the world in 30 unique modes of transport” [click here]
      • “Top 12 world’s super authentic means of public transport” [click here]
      • “8 unspoken rules of public transportation around the world” [click here]
  6. Alcohol: Buying alcohol around the world or even just from state-to-state within the US, can vary widely.
    • Are you old enough to drink? A guide to the min. drinking ages in 190 countries around the world [click here]
    • Is drinking even legal where you’re traveling? Here’s 14 countries where drinking alcohol isn’t legal [click here]
    • Okay, you can buy it here, but how expensive is it? Here’s a guide to how much alcohol costs around the world [click here]
    • Now, you know if its legal, if you’re legal, and how much its going to set you back, but what should you drink? Here’s a guide to the best booze to drink in 43 countries [click here]
    • If you’re going to have ‘one drink’ how does the alcohol content vary around the world? Good question [click here]
  7. Food labels: If you have dietary requirements that make reading food lables a normal part of your shopping experience, you may not be ready for how other countries label their packaged food.  (Also, you may want to get a metric converter app for your phone to help make sense of international food lables)
    • “Differences between EU and US nutrition lables go far beyond ounces and grams” [click here]
    • “Food health labels around the world” [click here]
    • “Global plan to streamline ‘use by’ labels” [click here]
  8. Operating hours: When are businesses open?  In the US we are acustomed to businesses being open early and staying open late with many stores not changing their hours of operation for the weekend. However, this is something that varies widely from country to country and even within a country, if you move from a large city to a small town or village. For example: in the US if a store is open on Sundays it will most likely open later in the day (noon is quite common) and it will likely close early (6 p.m. is still common). However, in South Africa a lot of stores will open at the standard time, but close early.
  9. Work/life balance: If you are living abroad for an extended period of time you are probably working in a new culture. But working and living in a new country can be very different from working in the US. I’m not fully going down that rabbit hole here, but in general understanding how your new country places work into their overall cultural understanding of life will help you undertand your new neighbors and friends even if you aren’t working directly in the new country (I’m looking at you digital nomads).
    • “Working hours around the world” [click here]
    • “The 13 countries with the best work-life balance for expats” [click here]
    • Women in the workforce worldwide (Pew Center) [click here]

Traveling can be fantastic! And anyone who knows me knows that I’m always trying to find yet another way to go abroad. However, its best if you’re aware of the many variances between countries that could catch you off-gaurd. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you encounter a difficulty that you weren’t expecting when you travel or relocate to a new culture. Culture shock is real and sometimes you don’t know when its going to show up!

The items I included in this post were things that I’ve encountered and caused me some stress as I acclimated to my new environment. What did I miss? Please comment with things that were an unexpected culture shock for you when you studied or moved abroad.

 


Breathless Wednesday

On WordPress some blogs do “Wordless Wednesday” and I’ve made a few of those posts. I’ve posted up videos or pictures that could stand on their own.

However, today I’m overwhelmed by words and a myriad of thoughts, but I find my heart skipping a beat and my breath catching. I’m in the edge of my next adventure, headed into the great wide-open of life.

This next academic year is (hopefully) my last. I’m headed to South Africa for fall semester to write my dissertation, I’ve imaged it as a semester’s Long writing retreat. Then spring semester I defend and graduate. Each next step has an outline of a plan, but no definite next steps because I want to remain open to all of the possibilities available to me. It’s exhilarating and a bit scary.

But it also feels right. Time to see what the universe has in store!


Wordless Wednesday


2019 Study Abroad Promo

I’m excited for the Winter 2019 study abroad program! The planning for this program is in full force and the program is completely re-vamped from the first two years. This video was made from pictures I took on the 2017 and 2018 programs.


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