Terese is a 25 year old young woman from Sweden, she was living in South Africa for a couple of months and the following is part of what she told me about her time living across the globe.
When it comes to living in South Africa, what differences would you say are the biggest between Swedish culture and the one in South Africa?
The biggest difference was definitely the poverty. Rich and poor are side by side in the cities in a way that one has to see to understand. Even though the apartheid system was abolished years ago the effects of the system is still clear in today’s society. The way of life among people in different parts of South African society can be negative but is important to take part when traveling in South Africa.
Apart from differences in equality among people in society, the laid back pace in ordinary life was the biggest difference. The stress that Swedes in general live with never appeared during my time in South Africa. I got to learn that there are several forms of “now” over there, where now can be understood as in a few minutes or hours… nobody really knows but it doesn’t matter as time is not as important as it is in western parts of the world.
The way of life is amazing in South Africa, not least because of the attitude and what people actually values in life. Most people are extremely friendly, talkative and generous with sharing their story of life and happiness, which in itself makes the country worth it.
What would you say is a “don’t miss out” in South Africa ?
There is so much that one should see when traveling there! But my spontaneous reaction is all the vineyards that are around Stellenbosch. That as it is such an extraordinary experience to watch the sunset from the terrace, gaze over the fields of grapevines that stretches kilometers away while sipping on a cold glass of vine that has been made from the same grapevines. Such moments are pure magic.
While talking about Stellenbosch and the area around it, you have to mention the Cape of Good Hope. This place is not to be missed! When going there one passes a national park with baboons, ostriches, antelopes and other wildlife. I had the luck to get to see baboons all three times I went through the park.
To mention is also Safari in north part of the country. The Krugerpark is one of the biggest and most species-rich national parks in Africa. One can stay in bungalows and go on tours with guides or by own car. There are good chances to get to see big, beautiful, cool and sometimes scary animals during these tours. I was there for three days but would have loved to stay there for at least a year, was not even close to have seen it all.
Even though there are a lot of attractions, animals and places to see and visit in South Africa I want to mention the locals once again. Take the chance to get in contact and listen to their stories. Majority of them have a deep and important history at the same time as they have a big exuberance. They have got a lot to tell; so don’t miss the chance to listen.
Is there anything that you would like people to know before travelling to South Africa?
There is places one should not visit to minimize the risk of encounter crime. The country has had a reputation of being a place of high crime. During my time over there I was never more scared than back home. My advice is to read and learn about where to be and not to be, and also not to be in certain areas after dark.
It is also important to remember extreme heat during the summer (nov-mar) and that it can get really cold even below zero during winter (jun-aug).
It is very common that things that are taken for granted in countries like Sweden don’t work over there. For example police (corrupt), justice (not the same for everyone) and public transport (sporadic) this means one has to be flexible and should not trust in “obvious” things like the train getting in on time or the police to help out.
Can you give a tip of your personal favorite food and place to eat?
Oh there are so many places to go! But the traditional Braai was the best experience when it comes to food in South Africa. My landlord served us homemade antelope-sausages, which were very good.
Another rare thing to try is Biltong, dried meat. It is a perfect snack to bring on picnics or the movies. It might sound weird but people eat it all the time, whenever, wherever.
My two favorite restaurants in Stellenbosch were “Java” and “SGT pepper”. At Java one can get warm sandwiches or wraps made with salmon. The dessert is always gigantic and delicious! One glass of wine is about 1,5 pounds and when order in an avocado it is the living proof of ripe perfection.
At SGT pepper pizzas are made in a way where the base can be compared to a mix between roasted tortilla bread and a gigantic salted potato chips. Choose sundried tomato, goat cheese and ruccola as topping and you are home!
Dining out is cheap, we did it several times a week and as mentioned there’s a lot of places to see, go and taste!
Finally- everybody who considers a trip to South Africa but hesitates because of it might be dangerous- FORGET IT! Just remember to read and learn about the destination before you are going there, and you will have an amazing, phenomenal, unforgettable trip for sure!
I will go back there as soon as possible.
Thanks for the opportunity of sharing “my” South Africa.