Day 27

  • Slept in which means waking up at 9am (thank you, internal alarm clock)
  • The gods of exercise were really frowning on me today: gym was already closed by the time I wanted to go AND exercise room on our roof was closed for heavy winds. Ended up working out in the kitchen so thanks @Morganne for watching and cheering me on.
  • Went down to the V&A waterfront with Brooke and Morganne
  • While they went to check out the Zeitz Museum of Modern Art, I headed to Exclusive Books (in the mall) to utilize their café
  • Played lots of sudoku, read my book, and updated the blog
  • After Brooke and Morganne saw a movie, I met up with them and three of Brooke’s Duke friends to grab a pub dinner while watching soccer
  • Started pouring rain during dinner and we got absolutely drenched on our way to the Uber. Begrudgingly blessing the rains down in Africa.

Day 20

Woof, I slept well last night. That wine tour really did me dirty. This morning, for the first time in about two weeks (thanks, Safari), I was able to sleep in! After a slow wake-up (something you take for granted until you don’t have it… ever), I went with Tess, Morgan (not Morganne), Sarah, Sophia, and Georgia (all Connectors from various places) to brunch at Tashas to celebrate Sophia’s birthday! Tashas is on the V&A Waterfront and has a delicious Spanish-inspired brunch menu. Their old school omelet was yum and their fruit platter was stunning: guava, banana, mango, kiwi, dragon fruit, etc.

After a hearty breakfast, Tess and I went to see Ocean’s 8 and, man, that was a badass movie filled with a lot of badass actresses. Big fan. If you’re into crime/heist/action movies or just love to watch some famous women tear it up, I’d definitely recommend it. Sandra Bullock is an absolute queen.

On our way out of the V&A mall, we ventured into their Steve Madden store to check out their winter styles. Surprisingly, not unlike literally everything else here, the shoes were SO inexpensive! Some were on sale for R 399 which translates to $29.75 and I don’t think a single pair cost over $150 USD! I don’t really understand the world economy except I did benefit from it, scoring some cute shoes for cheap.

For dinner tonight, I met up with Nanki, Roxy, and Lauren, three girls from UVA all working on a public health projection Khayelitsha. My cousin actually worked on this same project two years ago, so hearing what they were up to after she’s gone was really cool! They’re basically conducting interviews and helping with support groups/an eventual community center in Town Two, a neighborhood of Khayelitsha. We went to Asoka, one of my favorites, for their delicious tapas and live music on Sunday nights. All three of them were so interested in everything I’m doing and me in their projects. We ended up staying for three hour talking all about experiences in Khayelitsha and how our fields overlapped. It was also nice to be surrounded by UVA students for the first time in a while because we could use the same lingo, talk about school life and studies, have a lot of the same friends, etc.

Anyways, after a lovely day filled with incredible food, it’s time for Grey’s Anatomy and some sleep. Goodnight to all and the Xhosa word of the day is “town”: dolophu.

Day 16

Yesterday, I failed to mention that we were surprised in the morning with a new driver. I’d like to give a sizeable shout out to our OG driver, Luvo, for his positivity, punctuality, and 10/10 driving skills. This morning, our new driver showed up 50 minutes late (imagine the extra sleep!!!!). So late, in fact, that I told myself if he didn’t arrive by 8, I. was going to take the day off. Well, this man rolled up at exactly 7:59 so I guess that was my bad karma for the day.

Similar to yesterday, today was also pretty standard. The four interns did lots of the paperwork but some of the nurses on the non-paperwork-friendly staff were watching over our shoulders looking for any mistakes. They ended up sitting with us and watching our every move but were “too tired to write”. This suited me just fine because we got to talk to and hang out with them. Their favorite activity was getting us to call out the folder names for new mothers, trying to pronounce them correctly. Most of the time, we absolutely butchered the Mbuntus, Fundiswas, and Nkululekos but finessed the occasional Amanda or Olivia. One of the nurses took the opportunity to let me know that her middle name is Grace but she absolutely hates it, asking her mother to give her a different name instead. Now she just refers to me as “my name”: “My name, are you going to tea?” or “Good morning, my name!”

As if the 50 minutes this morning wasn’t enough, driver #2 showed up 30 minutes late to pick us up from the clinic this afternoon. Yikes. Once we got back, Maci, Nikki, and I decided on a sunset cruise at the Waterfront. Instead of Ubering, I decided to walk the 2.5 miles through downtown Cape Town and that was, indeed, an endeavor. Lots of checking behind my shoulders and walking at a brisk pace.

We arrived at 4:59 and ran onto the dock to be met with many sales reps trying to get us to go on their boat. We jumped on the first one we saw (only R 300 or $22.37) and set out for the Atlantic. We were aboard a huge catamaran with only one other family. The crew guided us out to the trampolines in the front of the boat and we stretched out, blankets and cider (included) in hand. As the sun began to set, the crew came around with champagne (also included) and we watched the sunset over the horizon in style.

Upon return to the waterfront (~90 minutes later), we ate at Servuga, a taste of international cuisine right on the water. Since we came before 7, all of their sushi was half off, so we ordered a few table-size platters to share for only about $9 each. I’ll never stop being astonished at the low prices we’ve found here. Same as literally every other restaurant I’ve been to, 10/10 would recommend if you’re down at the V&A Waterfront.

A few hours later and it’s now time to “cruise for a snooze” as my roommate, Tess, would say. Xhosa word of the day is “sunset”: kwelanga.

Day 10

Following a crazy day yesterday, today was a bit more tame. First of all, we woke up to a torrential downpour. Though we always need to celebrate the rain (we are in a severe drought), this stuff was crazy. Upon arrival to the clinic, the nurses were saying that today would be absolutely empty because of the rain, especially in the post-natal side where checkups weren’t necessary. They said that, frankly, they didn’t want to see anybody because it puts the baby at risk of getting sick if they’re out in the rain walking to the clinic. With that being said, Nikki and I completed paperwork for a grand total of one patient today. Two mothers were “on deck” but didn’t seem to want to give birth any time soon and the nurses were pretty much all socializing at that point. Two of the Connect interns in the physical therapy department had taken the day off anyway so with some permission from the sisters in charge, we called an Uber and scooted back to the CBD around 10:30.

Because we work five days a week leaving at 7:20 and most places in Cape Town are closed on the weekends, the one demographic of restaurants we have been missing out on is, my personal favorite, brunch. So what better way to use a rainy morning off than pursuing a delicious eatery along Bree St!? We headed to Jarryd’s and absolutely chowed down. Pictures of this straight-up feast can be found in the gallery. Major highlight was the split dish of pancakes that were ACTUAL cakes. With full stomachs we made our way to the waterfront and treated ourselves to a manicure at the K Spa (cheap and great service, would recommend).

One gym trip later, I went to Truth Coffee Roasting with Tess to catch up on blogging (oops) and enjoy the (former) world’s best cup of coffee! I’m not sure if it’s the steam punk-themed interior or the bright cheeriness of all employees or the delicious coffee but I can’t rave enough about Truth. It is absolutely deserving of all the hype and still remains relatively tucked away along Buitenkant St.

Morganne, Tess, and I made our own dinners like strong, independent women and feasted on dumplings, roasted vegetables, buns, and samoosas, all from pre-made Woolworths containers. We divided and conquered, each watching our own Netflix shows in different areas of the apartment and are now ready to crash. The Xhosa word of the day is “early”: ekuqaleni. This one has a palate click on the Q that I’ve been trying to master… we’re making progress.

Day 8

This morning, we woke up at 6:30, as per usual, and headed to the clinic, only to be met with an extremely slow day. One mother was “on deck” but looked like she’d need more time before really going into labor and only about fifteen babies were waiting in the post-natal ward. After working through them at lighting speed (paperwork train back in action), we were left with relatively nothing to do. The Connect interns working in physical therapy didn’t have any appointments for the rest of the day so they were also sitting around and waiting until our shuttle at 3:30. The only problem was all of us had finished our duties at the clinic around 11 and waiting 4.5 hrs was not going to be easy. Instead, we bid a sweet goodbye to the nursing staff and split an Uber back to the city center. Our Uber driver, Martin, was one of the most interesting men I’ve met in South Africa with revolutionary ideas on Cape Town politics, especially when it came to Parliament’s treatment of the townships. Thanks, Martin for a great ride and 5 stars to you!!

Left with a beautiful day (75 and sunny) and a free afternoon, I decided to hike Lion’s Head, one of the three mountains that surrounds the CBD (central business district) of Cape Town, the other two being Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. To push it even further, I decided that it’d be a great idea to also hike from my building to the base of Lion’s head: 2.5 miles straight uphill. This was a fantastic idea until about 1.5 miles in when the sidewalk abruptly ended and I was forced to Uber the rest of the way. The first half of the hike was beautiful, forming a corkscrew around the mountain and giving 360 views of the city and surrounding areas (Camps Bay, Sea Point, Atlantic Ocean, etc.). However, as the climb got steeper and steeper, it suddenly turned into r o c k c l i m b i n g sans guides/fences/literally any form of safety (sorry mom and dad). If it tells you anything, a mother with a toddler asked me on my way down if she’d be okay doing the rest of the hike with him on her back and I laughed. See picture below for example.


However, with one healthy ankle and a whole lotta Taylor Swift, I made it to the top for some absolutely stunning views. All of those pictures are in the photo gallery. The hike down was much easier and as a finale, I was met with a concession cart with only sparkling water. The perfect thirst quencher for a long day (said sarcastically) !

After a nice, long shower, I went with Morganne, Tess, (another) Morgan, and Sarah (both from Michigan State) to the Waterfront to have dinner and see the new movie, Tully. The movie was fantastic and I highly recommend it. An interesting modern take on motherhood (even though the birth they depicted was completely unrealistic, coming from a labor intern). Back at home, I’m ready to pass out as soon as this post is finished. Xhosa word of the day is “mountain”: intaba. Sala kukuhle!


Welcome! The first post on this blog calls for an introduction to what I’m going to be doing down here in Cape Town, which all begins with Connect-123. Connect-123 has six locations (Dublin, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Sydney, Shanghai, and Cape Town) across the globe that place students in local internships and volunteer opportunities. The way the whole process works is you “inquire” (submit what and where you’re interested in) and then speak over Skype with one of the Connect representatives in that area. In the Skype call, they give you all pertinent details, prices, etc. Following this call, you fill out an application and submit two references before receiving internship offers. After telling my representative, Saskia, that I was interested in medicine, she said I could be placed at a number of facilities around Cape Town. My first offer was an opportunity at a community clinic in Khayelitsha (a nearby township) which I quickly accepted and, thus, that’s where I’m working this summer! Connect-123 houses participants in two different apartment buildings (all have lots of security and we stay in privately owned units) both located in the center of the City Bowl (CBD).

Now after all of this, you may be asking yourself, “Grace! Why would you trust this strange program you found on the internet?! You don’t even know anybody who has done it before! What if it’s all a sham?” Valid concern! One my mom definitely had! She was so concerned that she ended up coming over to South Africa with me for four days only to be met with welcoming faces and more-than-capable staff at Connect. Seriously, they’re incredible. After unpacking in my apartment (with two other roommates) and getting settled in, my mom and I had a full weekend to explore the city before my internship started.

Our first stop was the V&A Waterfront after a failed attempt to go to Robben Island (Nelson Mandela’s prison, South African version of Azkaban (or Alcatraz)) and let me tell ya, this place is incredible. Starting in 1988, this development has blossomed from food markets to craft markets to aquariums (amazing, please see photo gallery for proof) to a charitable Ferris wheel to a giant shopping center. Seriously, there is always something going on down here in addition to a plethora of painted rhinos, raising money for their conservation. 10/10 would recommend. This trip was followed by a lovely dinner with a dear UVA friend, Rex, who will also be in Cape Town this summer! Overall, a great day for Ann and Grace.

The next day was dedicated to Table Mountain and the Company Gardens. The views from the top of Table Mountain were phenomenal (once again, see photo gallery for proof) and, surprisingly, the food at their café was also outstanding. Definitely would recommend taking the cable car up and down– it turns a treacherous 2 hr hike (one way) into a quick 5 minute ride. After Table Mountain, we explored the Natural History museum on the grounds of the Company’s Garden, a large park behind the old Parliament building. This garden was originally used by Jan van Riebeeck as early as 1652 to grow vegetables for the new colony at the tip of Africa! We witnessed a traditional wedding procession happening within the park in addition to street performers and lots of kids running around. Definitely a cool scene.

On my mom’s last day, we finally made the trek to Robben Island. Though the tour lasted much longer than we expected it to (3 hours on the island, 30 minute ferry each way), it was absolutely worth the trip. Every guide on the island is a former prisoner (mostly political prisoners during the apartheid), making each tour extremely personal complete with harrowing anecdotes and strong emotional ties. It blows my mind that these people are able to show tourists around cells where they were tortured, mentally and physically. Not to mention seeing Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, which was incredible in and of itself. Honorable mention to the lovely couple from Charlotte we met on the ferry! Tammie and Lou, I hope the rest of your stay in South Africa is wonderful!

After a phenomenal weekend with my mom, it was time to bid adieu. She headed off to the airport as I headed to the Africa Café for a welcome feast with all ~50 Connect-123 interns! After a 16-course meal complete with tribal face painting and a beautiful performance from our waiters, it’s now time to give into the food coma and hit the hay before my first day of work. To all who are still reading at this point, thank you! I hope to blog (most) every day about my experiences in the clinic as well as my time in Cape Town. The last four days have already opened my eyes to so much diversity, culture, and tradition and I absolutely cannot wait for even more.