After riding three different planes, we finally made it to our destination! However, before I comment on Durban’s beauty, it’s imperative to talk about our adventures along the way. We left Dallas-Fort Worth on Saturday afternoon. After a 10-hour flight, we landed in London at approximately 8 a.m. Though the flight was long and tiring, it went by more quickly than I expected because on the plane I met another SMU student, and we talked the entire flight!
After arriving in London we had an eight-hour delay, and of course I did not want to stay in the airport for that long. Instead, a few of us decided to take a risk and step out to explore London. It was cold and rainy, but I am so glad I got to see such a unique city. My classmates and I decided to take a tour bus to get the best experience in the limited time we had. Unfortunately, traffic and rain kept us from seeing all of London (as the tour bus guaranteed); however, we did get to see many exciting places. We got to eat London’s famous fish and chips, and took pictures of palaces, homes worth more than 18 million pounds, and spent over four hours in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
When it was time to get back on the plane, luckily we did not have any trouble getting through customs and were all relieved about that. However, none of us looked forward to a 10-hour flight all the way to Johannesburg, South Africa. After finding yet another friend to converse with on the plane, I was designated the social chair of the group. Talking with a lady from Trindad and Tobago, on her way to London for a midwife association conference, also helped to hasten the long flight. On top of that, we heard that the Mavericks won the NBA championship, which definitely revived all of our tired spirits.
Just when I thought I had enough of flying, after landing in Johannesburg we had to catch yet another plane to Durban. By now I was both tired and hungry (not a fan of plane meals), but I must say being back in Africa for the first time since I left 11 years ago instilled a sense of wholeness in me. I was blown away both by the beauty of the country and the people. It just felt great to be back in Africa again.
Durban, our home for the next two weeks, is absolutely gorgeous. We are staying at the Pastoral Center, which is about a 15-minute walk from KwaZulu-Natal, the university we will be attending. The campus is surrounded with breathtaking scenery consisting of beaches, trees, plants, gorgeous skyline and sophisticated buildings. After registering at the university, we had dinner at an Italian Resturant, Olive and Oil, with the other South African students who will be attending class with us.
One of the classes I am enrolled in is a musical production class of West Side Story, and dancers from University of Cape Town, as well as singers from the University of KwaZulu Natal, are joining us to put this production together. Our dinner started at 6 p.m. and lasted until nearly till 10 p.m. because we all enjoyed conversing with the 50 other South African students! They looked forward to working with us just as much as we had anticipated meeting them.
Good dinner and great company in a beautiful city = perfect ending of day one in South Africa!