Exploring Wild South Africa

By Aoife Rothery and Sophie Conlon, Year 11 students

We both had the amazing opportunity of being part of an exchange program at Dainfern College in Johannesburg, South Africa in January and February this year.

While there were a lot of fun trips and experiences, we also got to really immerse ourselves in the Afrikaans culture and experience what it is like to live in a country with such a different dynamic to our own and what we are used to. The opportunities to discover a different way of living, such as witnessing a taxi driver's creative manoeuvres, having braai (BBQ) nights, living in a secure housing estate, and having townships nearby was a valuable experience.

Some amazing memories we made included:

  • Driving through a game reserve at sunset
  • Seeing lions, giraffe, hippos, buffalo, zebra and many more animals in their natural environment
  • Exploring an old gold mine (that had a theme park built on top of it!)
  • Reaching the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town
  • Visiting Cape of Good Hope and playing with penguins on the beaches
  • Whole-class chats about Australia in geography class
  • Watching many beautiful sunsets over beaches, savannahs and just while at home
  • Watching a baboon run through the caravan park I was staying at
  • Kayaking in Cape Town while a pod of dolphins swum underneath the boats.
Aoife and Sophie (first and second left)in South Africa/penguins at Cape of Good Hope.

And some things we found interesting were:

  • Not being able to make toast in the mornings (due to load shedding - the power was turned off for up to 12 hours per day)
  • School ending at 1 pm on a Wednesday
  • Being able to buy a whole lunch for around $3! (around 30 Rand)
  • Having to wake up at 5:30 am for school
  • How huge a large fries from McDonalds is (bigger than your head)
  • Having to scan your finger to get into the housing estates.

It was definitely very interesting to see this country’s regular societal norms, as there was a very clear upper class and lower class, but not really a distinct middle class, meaning there are two extremes of living standards that exist amongst each other almost seamlessly. Overall, it was very hard to say goodbye as we both had such an amazing experience and met so many new people. Exchange was such an incredible opportunity that we were both so grateful to partake in and we are excited to be able to welcome our exchange students back to Radford to show them our own culture.