I flew out of O’Hare international flights so I converted some money there and I then had a 15 hour layover in Dubai in which I converted a lot more money at the huge airport there, it was very easy. I would just say to anyone that will be converting money to make sure you go over your choices because basically all places will have a processing fee but it’s very minuscule.
I am not living with a host family but I am living at a house with four other international students who are all amazing and so friendly. There are two Americans including myself, two Norwegians, and one German so it is a diverse group but we are all university students so we all share some interests. I met all these people yesterday and I can already say that these will be great friends.
The only public transportation that I have taken thus far is uber and being here for only four days I have probably taken ten ubers or so because they are the most reliable, safest, and one of the cheaper ways of travel around Cape Town. A twenty minute uber ride across town will only set you back about 70 rand which is about $5.
I definitely felt a bit of culture shock in the Dubai airport as it was my first step on foreign ground and this airport is incredibly large with so many different cultures and languages you just have to sit in a quiet area and relax for a moment. After relaxing and talking to my family I was feeling a lot more confident and was able to enjoy being in such an amazing area of the world. Everyone is friendly too which you may think a lot of the world doesn’t love Americans but they really do as long as you treat everyone with respect. The culture shock in Cape Town wasn’t as bad. The main language here is English but I did receive some culture shock when I went into the heart of the city and saw the poverty and the dangers of the city. Once I made friends and met my roommates I felt so much better.
I could talk to my family and friends through WhatsApp and iMessage as long as I had wifi so I talked to them while at the airport in Dubai and when I landed in Cape Town I had booked an Airbnb for my first two nights which also had wifi. The first day of being in Cape Town I went to Vodacom and picked up a local sim card for 1 rand (about 0.14 cents) and purchased 1 GB of data for $10 mainly for emergencies. The house I moved into also has wifi so I have been able to facetime and communicate with everybody back home. It has been an incredible experience thus far and I cannot wait to keep going!