Application Process

January 3, 2008

I started looking at the AIFS South Africa program my first year of high school. It’s just fantastic. It’s a few thousand cheaper than the European programs and it includes many more opportunities, such as a service learning component and included trips, like hiking and camping in the Cedarburg Mountains, a 10-day Garden Route tour, day trips to safaris and animal sanctuaries and to the best land whale watching spot in the world. Also, it’s apparently quite cheap and very easy to find weekend trips and opportunities to travel. The university itself offers bunches of courses in political science and international studies, which is fantastic for my major. The service learning component is actually a certified program now, which I’m tailoring my courses around. I’m taking introductory Afrikaans and a community development seminar so I can participate in some community service projects in Stellenbosch.

I applied to both programs in November, but I haven’t turned in all of the required documents and statements yet. I need to turn in a personal statement to Ohio State and I’ll be finished with that, but there around about a dozen requirements for the AIFS application, none of which are simple or quick. I’m working on it. I have my reference sheet and my disciplinary clearance forms printed and in addressed and stamped envelopes and I will hand them out to the appropriate people tomorrow. There’s a problem with my course selection form online, so I can’t have that finished yet, and it needs about three hundred signatures. I just requested a transcript and I found a AAA location near here so I can get my 5 passport sized photographs. I’m not worried about getting accepted, I’m just worried about getting everything in and organized. Once I’m accepted, I have to apply for loans, which I’m not excited about. Also, I need to get in touch with the South African consulate again to get a study-visa, which requires I think 11 authorizations, such as a tuberculosis test and a yellow fever vaccination.

I figured I’d document the process for… the future? Who knows? But I am planning on studying abroad again so it might be helpful. Also, I’ll use this blog when I’m abroad.

Oh, and despite the fact that this program has been offered as an accredited program through OSU for 8 years, no one has ever done it. Apparently, the African American and African Studies program discourages their students from this program because it’s “too white” and therefore is of no value. London, mind you, is a worthwhile cultural immersion, but South Africa is not. Okay? They suggest instead very short term travel opportunities to either Senegal, Ghana or a run around Southern Africa that lasts three weeks and includes far too many sites to be just three weeks. But I’m not an AAAS major so they can’t really say anything, and my IS adviser doesn’t really seem to care what I do, so everything should be fine. I’m not so much worried about it as fascinated. I mean, it’s an AIFS program with a fairly seamless transfer of credit… they can’t not give me credit, it’s an authorized program at a respected institution. And frankly, I’m okay with it being “too white” as “too white” actually means about 20% white. Ridiculous. Racism goes all ways, not just white to black. Somewhat secretly, I hope they give me shit about it and make it difficult for me… that way, I’ll have lots of ammunition with which to write an article or graduate school admissions essay. =)

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3 Responses to “Application Process”

  1. Kathy Fatheree Says:

    Oh Jessi!! How exciting!!
    You are an excellent writer…. I love reading all this.
    You be CAREFUL, and don’t make your aunts worry!!
    Send more photos.
    Love, Aunt Kathy

  2. Aunt MA Says:

    Hey girlie!
    Another rainy weekend here. BOY were we lucky with Wendy’s wedding!

    You said that all the classes are taught in Africaans. How are you gonna manage that?

    DO DO DO take the self defense class.. Let me know what stuff they teach, please.

    Are you finding enough vegatarian stuff to keep you full on campus? How do they do their meal plan?

    Was your Cape Town trip through school, or just a bunch of you guys exploring? What side of the road do they drive on, and what’s the public transportation system like?

    Gee, this is fun!

  3. jessicakania Says:

    Hey, I hope you find this since the comment was on this boring first post. =)

    It’s rainy here too. And indeed it was lucky, it was an absolutely beautiful Saturday!

    It is an Afrikaans university, but not for international students. We have special IPSU (which stands for something international) courses that are taught in English. We can take mainstream classes too because some are half and half, but I’m sticking with the English!

    There’s tons of vegetarian stuff! There’s not a meal plan. AIFS gives us a “meal card” which is essentially $150 of my money on a debit card every month to use for food. It’s sort of silly, but I think it’s mostly to satisfy those “will my child starve?” questions. I’m going to leave it all on the card, hope that one day the exchange rate jumps, and then take it all out at once and use it to pay back the credit card or finance my trip at the end.
    Mostly I’m buying groceries a few times a week and eating that. The food in the student center is pretty gross save one really nice organic coffee, smoothie and wrap place I frequent. Last week I got a bag of cherry tomatoes, a green pepper, a huge avacado, a cucumber, a bag of flat bread and a block of cheddar cheese for about R45 (less than $7). That’s probably going to be my most regular meal, everything is so fresh and delicious… I actually like it for breakfast (weird maybe, but that’s how they did it in Europe last summer and I really liked the veggies in the morning). They also have really good oatmeal and I found some organic soup I really like. I’m definitely eating well! OH! ANNNND the restaurants in the town itself are really awesome. We’ve gone out just a few times but they are top notch. I have two three hour classes on Tuesdays with an hour break in between (tongue twister), and they’re held in a museum just off campus, so eating lunch in town will be a regular thing.

    Cape Town was through school, it was through the International Office. They organize a couple of other trips too, for a fee, and AIFS has quite a few that were included in the fees I’ve already paid.

    They drive on the left side. It’s crazy confusing. I’m trying to ride my bike but usually I start to panic and just walk it around. Hah. They’re very very aggressive drivers, and I believe the country has one of the highest accident rates in the world, so I do my best to stay off of the roads. And- there’s no public transport. There’s a train that runs from Stellenbosch to Cape Town but we’ve been warned on multiple occasions only to take it during the day in large groups.

    Thanks for asking! It’s fun to respond, too! I’m so excited people are interested.

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