Thursday, July 31, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
I uploaded the pictures from Cape Town here. Be forewarned that they're not all labeled or in order, and I think there are doubles in there, though I tried to get those out. Also, Flickr is telling me that since I don't have a free account, only the most recent 200 pictures are showing now, so I may move them to a different site. I'll keep you posted. I actually uploaded them a while ago, but I made them private because I wanted to write a blog to go with them. Well here's the very short version: Cape Town was awesome. It's a lot like any other big city in the world. I kept thinking of San Francisco the whole time we were there. We saw Robben Island, Boulder's Beach/Simon's Town (Simon, you have a whole town! And there are penguins in it!), Table Mountain, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the Bo-Kaap neighborhood...I think those were all the big things we saw. I'm pretty sure I'm more of a big city-type girl. Big cities just have so many more kinds of people and things to do, you're never bored. I wish we could have stayed longer. Things were expensive there, though...i guess that's a con of big cities.
Tonight four other girls and i are going through Botswana to Victoria Falls. We don't have everything planned out yet, but we'll probably be in Kosane by Sunday night, hopefully. We're taking buses and coombies and trains...so basically lots of sitting time. Luckily yesterday I checked out this used book place in the mall...four used books for under 13 USD! What a bargain. Anyway, yay Botswana! There are lots of nature reserves there, so I'm hoping to at least see some elephants and carnivores. All I've seen so far are zebra, kudu, giraffe, one warthog, and a whole bunch of other ungulates. And of course geckos. Lots of geckos. Our plan is to travel to Kosane, which is very close to the Botswana/Zambia/Zimbabwe border, stay there for a night, then take a day trip into Zimbabwe just to see the falls, then come back to Kosane and hang around Botswana, maybe see the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, the Kalahari Desert (where Meerkat Manor is filmed!)...we have lots of options. Wish me luck in Zim.
Some of you may be worried about the reported anti-foreigner violence that's currently happening in South Africa. (http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/05/21/sa.troops/index.html) I haven't witnessed any in Pietermaritzburg, although I heard rumors that someone was assaulted here, and that it's happening in Durban, about an hour away. So far it's largely against people from other African countries who are living here, mostly Zimbabweans and people from Mozambique, not against foreign tourists. So don't fret about me.
That's the excitement over here. Other than that, it's been a lot of studying and hanging out with friends. My lectures ended yesterday, and my first final isn't until June 4. I went through a period of being really stressed out, mostly about school, so this trip will be good for me. As for after finals, I'm still not really sure what I'm doing, but at least I know that I'll have a place to live. For a while I thought I wouldn't be allowed to stay in the dorms over the long break. I can, but I'd pay more for it. I want to travel, obviously, but so far I don't have anyone to go with(most people are going back home soon after finals), so I may just try to find a project to do around here.
Thats the haps in Southern Africa! Love and miss you all!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Today marks the start of Easter vacation. I keep saying spring break, but it’s not spring here, so I get funny looks if I say that. Most of the international people already left, but another girl and I had late classes, and the flights were really expensive since we waited so long to book, so we are leaving on Saturday (which also happens to be my 22nd birthday!). We’re all meeting up in Cape Town, where we’ll stay for a week. I’m not sure what we’re going to see there yet.
Meanwhile, my classes are going fine. Evolutionary Animal Physiology is usually the most interesting. The labs have consisted of: dissecting and disemboweling a monkey (along with a rat and a rabbit); looking at a cow’s stomach, taken out of a dead cow; looking at a cow’s stomach, when it was still inside a living cow; taking samples from aforementioned live stomach and looking at the contents under a microscope; and measuring the metabolism of a cockroach. For the cockroach one, I was one of the brave souls to put my hand in the jar and grab the cockroaches. I’m trying to get over how creeped out I am by them. By the end of it, though, my hand was trembling from anxiety. The cockroaches we used were actually American cockroaches. I could almost hear them singing the national anthem as they were being stuffed into beakers. (Don’t worry, no cockroaches were harmed.) Animal Health is interesting too, because we go out to a farm and examine the animals. So far we’ve examined sheep and vaccinated chickens. I kind of cringed as I was plunging the needle into the chicken, but it was interesting nonetheless.
The big excitement here this week was that the students organized a strike to protest the housing office. Apparently they assigned too few rooms to too many students, so there are a lot of people who were promised housing and now have nowhere to live. There’s been talk that they’re going to force students to share rooms, which would be really hard because the rooms are tiny. They get really excited about protesting here. They dance, sing, chant, etc. They also would run into classrooms and force people to not attend lecture. If they were taking a test, they would tear up the test. This week, they were striking for a second time, because after they protested the first time, the administration made promises with certain deadlines that were not met. Since a lot of teachers were holding tests this week because it’s the week before break, a lot of students looked at the protest as sent from heaven, because a lot of tests were canceled. Out of three, only one of mine was. Bummer. I walked with the strikers a bit. I didn’t have my camera, but a friend of mine did, so maybe I’ll get pictures from her.
Speaking of pictures, I uploaded a lot today on flickr.com. Go here to see them. Enjoy!
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Here is me about six hours later, also at the Durban beach:
And this is the Valley of a Thousand Hills, where the park is located:
Today we went on a tour of Pietermaritzburg, and saw the city center, as well as a township outside of Pietermaritzburg called Mpophomeni, a community center that used to be a prison where Gandhi was held, and Howick Falls, where there was a really cool, huge waterfall. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera, but other people took pictures, and one even took a picture of me in front of the falls, so I'll get those. Tomorrow I'm going to Tala Game Ranch, in the Eston district near Pietermaritzburg. They have giraffe, rhino, buffalo, zebra, hippo, and a variety of antelope and birds, but sadly no carnivores. So that should be cool. (And hopefully I'll remember to bring my camera!)
In the meantime I hope this satisfies your need for pictures for a while. My classes start on Monday.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
South Africa's great! It's really beautiful and everyone is really friendly. Sometimes I have to stop for a minute and think OMG I'M IN SOUTH AFRICA because it's a lot like the US, except that everyone has an accent. So far I've only seen the campus and the shopping stuff really close by. My dorm is nice, even though it's a bit of a walk to campus. I have my own sink. (What decadence!)
So far, the coolest thing has been seeing new common birds and insects. I'll have to take some pictures when I get a chance. I wish I could identify the birds. One of my friends here had a gecko come into her room, and I had told her that I'm into herpetology, so she called me over to see it. It was so cool! So far no interesting spiders. (Sorry Dad!)
My registration was yesterday, but I'm only registered for two classes (Animal Health and Community Ecology) so far because I need to get a couple other classes approved. I'm hoping to get into an Introductory Zulu class and a KwaZulu-Natal history class. It seems like a lot of the international students are also taking Zulu, so it's good that I won't be the only non-South African in the class.
I miss everyone so much. xoxoxoxo Eva
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Yesterday I went on a field trip to Oso Flaco Lake for my class on terrestrial vertebrates. Most of it involved identifying birds. Hours and hours of identifying birds. The only other terrestrial vertebrates we saw were a raccoon and some cows. We also saw some silver argiopes and orbweaver spiders, and a Carabidae beetle, but we didn't have to identify those, and most people weren't interested in them. It was really pretty, but I'm disappointed that we didn't see any herps(amphibians or reptiles). Birds get a little boring for me. Fortunately the weather wasn't too hot, but there was some mist at times that made it hard to identify birds.
It's a bit cold and overcast here in Isla Vista, as you can see from this picture the balcony and front yard in front of my apartment:
It's still pretty though. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Hello all! The zoology nerd has joined blogland. This blog was created in anticipation of my time in South Africa, which will presumably be more exciting than my life now, but I created it now so that I could look back on Santa Barbara and the U.S. while I'm there missing everything. It's mostly for me, so if you'd like to skip these first few months and come back in January, that's fine with me. My arrival date is January 28-30. In the meantime enjoy sporadic posts about college life on the southwestern edge of the continent.
Today I had to get three shots in preparation to go abroad, so if they don't let me go now, I will be quite mad.
The inspiration for my URL (which I thought long and hard about, let me tell you) is the velvet worm, in the small phylum, Onychophora. It's not actually a worm, but it looks kind of like a caterpillar, and its papillae and scales give it a velvety sheen. About 100 or so species have been described, and at least one of them is endemic to a part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, very close to where I'll be living. So it's possible I'll actually get to see one if I'm lucky! There's a picture on the left. They vary in color (there are pictures of orange and green ones in one of my textbooks) but that's the best picture I could find that would indicate its size.
Edit: When I first wrote this post, I had a different picture up, and I changed my mind at the last minute. Now I realize that the picture I put up makes it look pretty big. So here's the first picture I put up, which shows how small it is: