There are many things here in Cape Town that I have taken a while to adjust to. However, one thing that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to is my lack of independence.
Because there are such high crime rates in the city, it is incredibly dangerous for anyone, man or woman, to go outside alone, especially at night. There are certain times throughout the day where it is safe to walk into town for groceries, etc. But on the whole, most of my time is spent in a group, running errands for everyone.
This has become so difficult for me. Some of my favorite memories of being in Plymouth and especially DC are days where I would just travel into the city, find a caribou, and just be alone. It sounds so sad, but I find that it is necessary to gather my thoughts, deal with stress in my life, or simply to get work done. I have never understood friends who are always together and lack independence completely.
Now that I’m here, and unable to find time to myself, I have attempted to find other ways to achieve these things. It is safe to be alone on campus, however my time between classes is usually spent eating lunch, or running administrative errands between buildings. Not a lot of extra minutes can be found to stop, sit, and gather my thoughts. And when I finally find that time, someone always finds me. Its hard to be alone with other people.
Another problem I have found is that many people here see my independence as insulting. Why don’t I want to hang out with them? Many people can’t seem to understand why I would much rather stay in on a Friday night and watch a movie by myself than go out to a club with a group. They always ask if I’m ok…depressed…sad. None of the above. I just need a little bit of Kristen time.
In fact, just today I was called a “loser” because I said I had a great night watching 13 Days, drinking hot chocolate, and going to bed early. Sorry, but I’d much rather do that on a Wednesday night than go out and get hit on by creepy men. If that makes me a loser, so be it. Ha. (Not to mention, my friends are constantly complaining about how much money they spend…maybe if they didn’t go out 5 nights a week they’d have more money for groceries.)
It is of course nice to have my own room. I usually come home and just shut the door and get my homework done. But more than anything, I wish I could hop in a cab and find a cool coffee place that would be safe. I have found that the most interesting parts of cities can be found in tiny, cramped, coffee shops. The people I have met in the Caribou’s of DC are always a joy.
I guess, like everything else, I’ll adapt. But for now it’s a struggle.
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