Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the REAL africanamericanadventure!

I shudder when I look at the date of my last blog post. Over a month ago! Shock and horror... I know, I know. And I could whip out all kinds of excuses, but I'll spare you the time to read them, and myself the time (and energy) to come up with them. Just know that my last month at Willamette was awesome and went by very quickly. I was able to visit the pretty little town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for Thanksgiving along with my friend Scott and two girls from Rhodes. We built a snowman, made snow angels, and ate LOTS of good food. I also went to an NBA game and watched the Portland Trail Blazers versus Utah Jazz. That was lots of fun. Otherwise the last month just involved lots of work, last-minute organizing and admin, and one farewell party after the next as we all prepared to leave Willamette.

But, forget about all of that. The bottom line folks, is that I am in San Francisco, California - in the midst of the REAL African American Adventure. I spent last week in the extraordinarily beautiful state of Colorado. A couple days in Boulder (a quaint, artsy town that is said to have the fittest and happiest people in all America) with the family of my friend Nicky from Willamette University, and then on to Vail where I visited fellow Rhodent Paul Harris, and had an absolute blast. I spent my time hiking and running in Boulder, and being generally welcomed and spoilt by Nicky's awesome (and I mean freaking fantastic) family. On Wednesday evening I arrived in Vail at the last minute and took myself (bags and all) into the nearest pub (since Paul was still at work) where I grabbed dinner and had about 3 guys offer to help me with my bags upon entry... gotta love being a traveler... AND having an accent. :)

Vail is basically a ridiculously pretty winter-wonderland-fairytale kinda place where people with lots of money come to ski and spend Christmas. I enjoyed walking around the cobble-stoned streets (which are heated of course so that the snow underfoot melts...duh) and browsing the shops (the operative word being browsing). But the highlight of my Vail experience has got to be skiing for the first time in my life. Not only skiing mind you, but skiing surrounded by the snow-covered Rocky mountain range... beauty is. It would probably be more apt to say attempting to ski, than actually skiing - I mean, it was my first time ever. Paul took me out on the first day, which basically involved lots of falling and hysterical laughter. And the second time I went out wasn't much different from the first, only I think I fell harder this time since I felt marginally more confident in my skiing ability and so would be moving at quite a speed and then wipe out at that same speed. I even skied into a pine tree once. I had an unforgettable time in Vail though, and got to party with lots of South Africans... seriously, just about every shop and restaurant I went into had a South African employed. It was awesome meeting so many South Africans after meeting nearly none in the past four months.

I have had a great time in San Francisco too... visiting such landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge (the world's greatest suspension bridge) and Pier 39 - from where I could see Alcatraz. The highlight of this leg of my trip though was meeting up with a very special highschool friend who I have not seen since highschool! We had dinner together with her younger sister in downtown San Francisco last night - a truly amazing and surreal experience. It was awesome catching up on the last four years and being together again. Lots of love to Huguette and Sabine Brink!

Tonight I fly to Vegas baby! This is where I will be spending New Year's Eve together with a bunch of European students I met while at Willamette. It promises to be wild. :) From there I go on to LA for a couple of days, and then return to Salem to go on tour with the Willamette Singers in Oregon and California. This should be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will leave the tour early and fly to New York city, where I will spend my last few days in the States before returning home. Exciting stuff! I can't believe the great adventure is nearing its end. But it's been incredibly memorable and I still have a few more weeks in which to make more memories and have more unforgettable experiences!

Merry Christmas and Happy 2011 to you all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sleepless in Seattle

Ah yes, the weekend of the 5th to the 7th of November did indeed find me (not-so-sleepless) in Seattle. What a fantastic city! An awesome downtown vibe, interesting shops and restaurants/cafes, fun things to do, culture, culture and more culture... did I mention just how fantastic it is? I was joined in this exciting experience by my friends Moritz (yes, that German guy) and John (yes, the JOHN WULF of previous blogpost), and...wait for it... my lovely and amazing sister-in-law Joanne Barry! Hooray! She had been attending a conference in Seattle and so we got to hang out and catch up for a whole weekend. Sigh... happiness is. :) Don't you just love meeting up with people you love in random and unusual places? If someone had said to me this time last year that in a year's time I would be kicking it with my sister-in-law, an American and a German in Seattle in a year's time... I'm not sure what I would have done exactly, but you get the point.

Did I mention how much I love Seattle? Our accommodation was humble (read: borderline unsavoury), but located right next to the Space Needle (think the little sketch that is drawn in the sitcom Frasier) and very close to downtown Seattle, which meant that we could walk everywhere - what a pleasure! Our activities included:
* Going on Seattle's Underground Tour - which featured a hilarious host, a history lesson and exploring the ancient Seattle underground.
* Visiting Pike's Place Market where we were able to grab some good food and witness the famous fish-throwing. Um... just think, big, fresh fish being thrown from one big male to another?
* Stepping into the ORIGINAL Starbucks! What a thrill.
* Attending an AMAZING Jason Upton worship session / concert - WOW! What anointing! The presence of the Holy Spirit was THICK.
* Going up the famous Space Needle and being greeted by an awesome and beautiful 360 degree view of the city below.
* Taking a ferry out to Bainbridge Island, which also greeted us with an amazing view of the city as we pulled out of and returned to the harbour. We were also able to walk around and have lunch on the quaint little island of Bainbridge. Hey, why not?

So yes, all in all, a superb weekend. I got a chance to meander around the streets of Seattle on my own for a while; visit a bookshop, have a solo cappuccino and ponder the mysteries of the Hanna-universe. :) Spending time with Jo was also an absolute treat - especially since I last saw her and my dear big brother in January. It was great catching up on their new lives and hearing all about how wonderful a husband my brother is! Go James! :)

As usual, the past ten days have passed by with the same unnerving speed that has characterized my entire exchange experience! Next week is that great American holiday - Thanksgiving! I look forward to this sacred celebration, and will be spending it in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho with my dear friend Scott who was on exchange last year at Rhodes. I'm sure it will be a fun, family and food-filled time!

Happy Holidays to all my Rhodes friends who are finishing exams and leaving our beloved Grahamstown for good! Thinking of you all the most. Viva Rhodes University! Viva Gtown! What a treasure that place will always be for us purple-blooded Rhodents.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shopping and a Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte...

I love trying new things. But I especially love it when the risk of trying a new thing turns out successfully! And today held such a gem. I stopped by at the Ike Box on my way to work (the Ike Box is an awesome coffee shop/non-profit situated conveniently close to the Statesman Journal) to grab a warm beverage. I was thinking a cappuccino - my default - but then decided to be brave and try their Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte. Since I was feeling extra brave (and maybe also just needed a couple extra calories since I hadn't eaten enough today, maybe) I threw caution to the wind and got a 16 ounce cup, instead of my usual 12 ounce. As it turns out, I now LOVE Pumpkin Spice Chai Lattes! 16 ounces of warm, tasty, sweet-n-spicy-all-at-the-same-time, goodness! Well done me for trying new things. And thanks to Halloween for everything pumpkin!

In other news, I spent two hours this morning searching the closest mall for a pair of boots. I have NO decent shoes, and the winter is coming thick and fast - bringing rain along with it! I started off feeling optimistic about my shopping endeavour, almost, dare I say it, excited to shop, which is in itself amazing since I am a hopeless shopper who does not usually enjoy shopping (go figure). Unfortunately, when I had still not found a suitable pair of boots after a good 90 minutes of hunting (a lot of time for me to spend shopping, okay), I resigned myself to my former anti-shopping attitude and took myself back to campus for lunch. Sigh... On the up side - I'm a size 5 to 5 1/2 in the States (unlike my usual size 3 in SA)...although this small victory is made up for by the fact that there aren't many size 5s in these stores (unlike the strange abundance of size 3s in South African stores). But I hold out hope! Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A roadtrip, a Halloween and an American election...

...yup, that's right...THAT much has happened since I last blogged! dang it! Once again two weeks has flown by and I've barely had a chance to catch my breath, reflect, BLOG, think, smell roses, BLOG, write emails, sleep late, BLOG... you get the picture. Thus, in the interests of everyone concerned, I am going to write the following blog in...(drumroll please)... bullet points! Shock! Horror! Gasp! *Choke*! I'm not quite sure how well this will turn out, or whether or not I'll have an anurism before I manage to finish (bullet points? really? I do NOT think in bullet points!)... but here's trying! (I'd like to give a shout out to my friend James Meiners, who came up with this genius  (well, let's suspend our judgement) idea.

ROADTRIP: (I'm even using sub-headings! This is serious folks.)
When? About two weeks ago: We had a mid-semester break and so had Friday off.
Who? Me (duh) and 4 girls. One German (Bianca), one French (Stephanie), and two English (Cassie and Sarah)...all in all a motley crew! 
Where? The GREAT NORTHWEST of course! Mt. St. Helens (an inactive volcano), Multnomah Falls (huge waterfall), Columbia River Gorge (my personal favourite...a MASSIVE and stunningly beautiful gorge...apparently the bridge over it was used in one of the Twilight films...just saying).
Highlights?: Not having a plan! Literally, just driving around for 3 days in a hired car and deciding spontaneously where to eat, where to sleep and what to visit. What bliss! Roadtripping rocks I tell you. (and yes, I did drive an automatic for the first time on the right-hand side of the road, and am very proud of myself for said accomplishment).
Seeing the beauty of the Northwestern countryside was another highlight - it is really beautiful! Expansively so...wide open spaces...fresh air. And gorgeous Autumn colours everywhere...this little Southern Hemispherer (?) is loving experiencing a genuine 'Fall' season. What a treat!

When? This past weekend.
Who? Everybody and their cousin's aunty's brother's dog. It's a BIG DEAL.
Where? Everywhere.
Highlights?: Well, I attended multiple little Halloween parties, recycling the same outfit for the most part. I attended some live music on Saturday night - a male a capella group from campus (quite a few of the guys are in the Willamette Singers with me), as well as a band from Portland played. GREAT music and a fun party afterward at one of the singer's houses.
Partying at my friend John's house on Sunday night with a bunch of church peeps was also a hoot. And since he lives in a really nice neighbourhood, there were STACKS of kids trick-or-treating! ADORABLE! I got to answer the ringing doorbell and hand out candy to the little terrors. I loved my job. And of course I had a camera in one hand and was snapping pics all the way...probably to the grave suspicion of the parents who would stand on the street and watch their kids go from house to house. "Why is that strange lady taking photo's of our children?". Haha.

When? Last night! (hey, for once I'm telling you something just after it happened...don't get too excited though, it probably won't become a habit).
Who? Americans! (but let's be honest, probably not as many people as Halloween).
Where? The United States of America!
Highlights?: Being in a newsroom during election night, and so experiencing first-hand election buzz! Yes, indeedy... I worked at the newspaper I'm interning at (read my blog if this is news to you), from 8pm to 11pm calling numbers out to someone who was then typing them into a results page-thingy. Talk about breaking news! There was even a live news cast from the newsroom happening on my right. It was exciting! Not least because it is a reallly big election.

...................A WEEKEND TRIP TO SEATTLE! Hooray! Yay! Yippee! AND.................SEEING MY SISTER-IN-LAW WHILST I'M THERE! Hooray! Yay! Yippee!
When? THIS coming weekend!
Who? Me, John, Moritz and Jo.
Where? Seattle! (...and a small town called Enumclaw where we will be worshiping with Jason Upton on Saturday night).

Look out for that exciting blog update!
I hoped you liked the bullets as much as I did, and actually read all the way to the end this time. ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Update! Finally!

So this time it really has been AGES since I last wrote on my blog! Gosh. I seriously need to take a leaf out of my cousin Gail's book - who updates her blog DAILY. And writes the most awesome-radical-cool stuff ever. She is like so funny, and so hot right now. Hi Gail! ;) Ahem...anyway...I'm sitting with some international students in the Bistro (a gorgeous little coffee shop on campus), with a cappuccino and a white-chocolate and cranberry cookie in hand, ready to write!

As I'm sure you can guess, the past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of activity! I have been super busy, with barely a minute for myself (or my blog fans). My internship at the Statesman Journal is in full swing and proving to be a wonderful experience. In fact, I think my first 'real' story was published today! Hey, that's pretty historic. Up until this point I have just been doing short briefs for the business section in the paper. I still need to get my hands on a Sunday paper so that I can read it and actually see my own little name in the byline - what a great feeling that will be! :) The story I wrote was a feature on a downtown business that celebrated their 100 year anniversary in June - they have been in Salem for the past 100 the same family. Pretty hardcore. The business is a hardware and plumbing store called Saffron Supply. It was a great story to do because I got to meet the owner - a lovely man who must be in his late 60s/ early 70s, and his son, and also the staff (some of whom have been working there for 23 years!), as well as some quirky customers. I even got a tour of the workshop area and learned that they still carry brass fittings (or some such thing) - which I think are no longer made anymore or something. So all in all it was really fun! (Dane, you would have been in your element. haha). ;)

So yes, loving the internship - although it is the main culprit of my busyness! I am there for about 12 hours a week, making my days long and hectic. I also went to an investigative reporting conference last weekend with one of the reporters from the Statesman. It was AWESOME! Completely inspiring and all that great stuff. Hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists, the conference took place on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene - a town roughly the same size as Salem about an hour South (I think). UVO is a much bigger university than Willamette - around 20 or 30 000 - so it was great to see the campus, and explore Eugene a bit. Eugene is definitely a more, how shall I say, 'culturally developed' town than Salem is - lots of funky little shops and restaurants, and definitely more young people, so it's got a cool vibe.

This weekend has been Parent/Family weekend at Willamette, and so there have been all kinds of things on the go. One of these 'things' was the Jazz Night on Friday evening - at which the Willamette Singers performed. Hooray! It was absolutely fantastic! We were dressed to the nines (all the girls wearing the same dress and shoes! yes, you heard right - talk about a co-ordination nightmare. And the guys wearing the same shirts - probably a lot easier to co-ordinate!) and looked pretty darn gorgeous (if I may say so myself...for the ladies: us girls were wearing LBDs and sizzling hot red heels). We sang a great programme and all in all had a super concert! (grrr...blogspot doesn't like the way I'm spelling programme! Since I've started writing for a newspaper, I've had to adopt American spelling - shock! horror! - please don't disown me family! So I'll take what little victories I can get. Programme! Programme! Programme! Programme!) Ha.

Otherwise there is not all that much activity to report on - I really have been that busy with work (for school), work (at my internship) and work (at my on-campus job in the theatre box-office)...all in all a lot of work! And then of course all the partying and general antics that one gets up to as a student. :) The weather has actually been holding out beautifully the past few weeks (for the most part), with this weekend being particularly gorgeous. Chilly air but stunning sunshine and clear blue skies - I'm savouring it as much as possible before the rains come! Apparently they stick around until March...ouch.

I hope that all YOU wonderful and good-looking people are doing well. I miss you all a lot - really and truly! (Well, not those of you who are in the States and I see on a regular basis...obviously I don't miss you guys. duh).

Here's to another week! Who knows what it might hold?
Lots of Love!
Hanna Beeeeeeeeeeee

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Portland baby! And JOHN WULF.

Once again, I am behind with my blogtivity! Darnit! I always have such grand plans to write more frequent blog posts, but  they somehow seem to remain grand plans. Hmmm...So, in my efforts to not have you react with an "ag, (or as my American friend JOHN WULF would say "uck") this is too long to read!", I will try to keep this as BRIEF as possible. The past two weeks have been super busy and filled with all kinds of activities, but alas, I will not give you a complete rundown of EVERYTHING that has been going on - just some highlights.

Saturday night saw the international students venture into the city of Portland for a night on the town. Can I get a woop woop!! Yes, we were going clubbing! Downtown Portland is really awesome and well laid-out: all the bars and clubs are in the same area (how convenient), so there is a great vibe on the street as people walk from one place to another. We went in a couple of cars and got taken to a club called 'dirty' - and yes, the name really does say it all. But hey, the music was good and I was keen for a dance. I also met up with some friends from church (JOHN WULF included), and went to a bar nearby for a chilled drink. After that, I returned to the club to continue jamming with the Europeans. As the night neared its end, we began to move towards the exit of the club, only to be most rudely interrupted by a freaking DRIVE-BY SHOOTING! Right outside the club! Really? I mean, I felt quite at home, but still, it was rather a shock. I wasn't yet outside the club, but some of the other students were, and so they had to do the whole get down on the pavement thing - so crazy. Many of them had never heard gun shots before, and so at first thought that it was fireworks (seriously). So ja, that was our eventful night in Portland! And apparently that kind of thing seldom happens in Portland (although they say that gang violence is on the increase). Obviously it would happen when all the Europeans are there. Murphy's Law.

It was my roommate Ally's birthday yesterday. Yay! I woke her up in the morning holding two muffins with a lit candle in each muffin (a 1 and an 8 - she turned 18, duh), as well as gifts and the happy birthday song (it seemed appropriate). That was fun. The two of us went out for dinner last night and discovered a GREAT sushi place, that is really close to campus and really cheap too! C'mon! It even has a sushi belt and everything. We are both pretty stoked and plan to return soon. We then took a li'l walk to Safeway and bought an ice-cream cake (or ice-cream pie I think). Ally loves them and I had never tried one before...they are good!

Just after we got back from Safeway there was loud knocking (well, banging really) on our door. Four girls from one of the sorority houses on campus had arrived to present a formal invitation to me to join the Alpha Chi sorority house. I was invited there for a little Meet&Greet on Monday night, got a tour of the house and met a bunch of the girls who lived there. And they have now invited me to join! Sororities and fraternities are quite a big deal here, but I'm not quite sure what this would entail, since I don't think that I would actually move in to the house. Anyway, more on this later... watch this space.

What else? Hung out with friends from church last night, which is always fun. I am making good friends in the church I am going to, and think that that, more than anything else, is probably why I feel so settled here. JOHN WULF and his housemates were a part of the party, and they were my chauffeurs (or chaperones?)  for the night (thanks JOHN! (and Ryan and James) Lol.

Hey, our first performance is on Saturday! (The Willamette Singers that is, and not the band of circus midgets that I recently joined). We are performing in a Choral Leadership Workshop. I was chosen to sing the solo in one of the songs, which means that I will be singing solo parts in two songs (fun!), and playing piano on one of the songs too.

The other really important event of this week was the commencement of my internship at the Statesman Journal - a local newspaper. Apart from the fact that it totals my afternoons, and leaves me an ever-decreasing amount of free time (as it adds up to 12 or more hours per week), I am LOVING it. They have thrown me right into the deep-end and given me stuff to write, as well as a business feature story to cover (as of today). Can I get a woop woop!! for journalism experience and a significantly enhanced CV (otherwise known as a resume - to all my American friends out there, like JOHN WULF).

Ok, I'm going to stop! We all know that this is already long, so I'm not even going to try and qualify it (other than by saying, "What can I say? I have a lot to say!"). hehe. Thanks for reading though! (if indeed you are reading this sentence, which means that you have actually read all the way through).

PLEASE NOTE: JOHN WULF was not harmed during the making of this blog post.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a day in the life of...

Tuesday 21st September 2010:

Yesterday I took a leisurely stroll to Safeway (kind of like a Pick 'n Pay) to pick up a few things. The sun was out and it was a good day to go for a walk. Who knew that you can now buy apple slices in a supermarket?!? These goodies are ready-made (i.e. sliced) individually wrapped and ready to go. In what world, I cry, do we not have time to slice our own apples??!!! In what world are we wasting that amount of plastic in order to package a single apple slice??!!! Ours.

After getting what I needed (which, I might add, took a while to find: I was asked by a shop assistant if I needed help finding something, and I politely replied that I was fine and would manage to find what I was looking for - hoping that I would discover its location on one of the display boards above the aisles. Needless to say, I wandered around for another few minutes before I eventually stumbled upon what I was looking for. You see, the things I was looking for were... well, let's just say Safeway calls them Feminine Products - or something along those lines. The shop assistant who asked me if I needed help was (you guessed it) male. And call me old fashioned, but I didn't REALLY feel like asking him where I could find "feminine products". Anyway, he ended up walking past me (twice) while I was standing in front of all the "feminine products" deciding which ones to buy. Gotta love how life has a knack of doing things like that.

I then grabbed a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks on my way out, and headed back towards campus. I would like at this point to make special reference to Revolution Cafe in Grahamstown, South Africa: There just isn't anywhere else - probably in the whole word, but certainly in South Africa and America (America being Starbucks) - that makes a better Chai Tea Latte than that little restaurant in that little town. I have yet to find a better Chai Tea Latte!

Anyway, I decided to wander into the State Capitol park (right across the road from campus, where the capitol building is located), and found a bench to sit on and have some alone time! It was nice to just chill a bit and think about things (whilst drinking my less than satisfactory Chai Tea Latte). No sooner had ten minutes passed than a guy named Sean, who is in my French class, cycled past and stopped to say hi. An hour and fifteen minutes later, we said goodbyes and parted ways! Turns out we had a lot to talk about! :) But it was definitely one of those unexpected moments or conversations that leave you feeling like a more enriched individual.

After dinner (there's that word again), I went to an address given by a guy named John Perkins who has just written a book called 'Hoodwinked' and also wrote a book called 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman' (which was on the New York Times bestsellers list for seventy weeks!) He is a fascinating man who spoke about what we (as a human species, but specifically as the USA) need to do in order to change the current state of the world, especially in terms of the current environmental damage and social injustice. It was a truly thought-provoking address, and was given by someone who really knows what he is talking about (as an "economic hitman", he used to work for big corporations and seek out countries with coveted resources. These countries would be given "loans" (that went into the pockets of a few) by corporations who knew full-well they would never be able to pay them back. The corporations would then extract the resources that they wanted all along as payment for the loans). Scary stuff.

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the question and answer session, as I was meeting some friends to go downtown for movies! Willamette is located right next to downtown Salem (as in, we are basically IN downtown Salem), which is really awesome as this means that most of the coffee shops, restaurants, shops, bars and businesses are within walking distance. This includes Cinebar - a really nifty movie theatre where you can have a full meal served to you while you watch a movie. In front of each row of seats there is a long table on which you can rest your meal, popcorn, drink, etc. Waiters come in during the movie to check for order slips and then bring you whatever it is that you want (well, if it's on the menu). Myself and a French girl Stephanie decided to order some popcorn together. Little did we know that we would be receiving a whole giant bowl of popcorn! Talk about giving new meaning to a "large popcorn"! We watched 'Inception', which is an absolutely PHENOMENAL movie that everyone should watch. It is brilliant on so many levels and will completely blow your mind.

And there ends a day in the life of Hanna B. I crawled into bed around 1am with the feeling that it had been a GOOD day.

'Til next time...

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Singers' Retreat, an Open Mic, a Football game and Oktoberfest.

As usual, I am horribly behind with my blogging and have far too much to report than is possible to write on one blog post without boring you all to death, tears or some other awful fate. Instead of harping on about any number of things that I could, I will just give a few highlights of the past two weeks or so...

Last weekend I went away with the Willamette Singers on a retreat (and have been teased endlessly about "singers retreat"/ "jazz camp"/ "band camp" by church friends). Needless to say, the retreat was lots of fun. It involved plenty of rehearsal time, as well as time getting to know one another. I am really happy to be a part of this group, as it is comprised of really great guys and gals who are fun to be around, and the group singing is so much fun! I have not done serious group singing since Primary school (many years back!), and so it is really wonderful to be doing it again. The jazz melodies, rhythms and harmonies we work with are awesome...and very intricate! So it is quite a challenge keeping up with all the music. Singers comprises 16 actual singers (4 basses, 4 tenors, 4 altos, 4 sopranos) and then a small rhythm section. At the moment I am playing piano on one of the songs; I'm really glad that I get to keep up my piano playing too!

Another highlight was an Open Mic Night that happened last Thursday (the 16th) on campus, and in which I performed! I sang a Xhosa song called Yakhal Inkomo, and I think people were generally impressed with all the African clicks coming out of a white chick's mouth. :) It was fun to do a bit of performing, and I even got to do it on a piano!

On Saturday I watched my first American football game! This was certainly an experience, and probably not one that I will hurry to repeat. Jokes, that sounds terrible. But in all honesty, it did ignite the fires of patriotism within me as I longed for good South African rugby. Ja, nee... Firstly, American football is slow...tiresomely so: there is a lot of stopping and starting, and not a whole lot of movement. Secondly, there are generally between 65 to 70 people in a team, or in Willamette's case 99 players! Come on! In other words, players are constantly being switched and swapped on and off the field, so that it is near impossible to keep track of who is doing what and in which position...ahem. In addition, this means that throughout the game, the side of the field is lined with footballers, making it (at times) difficult to actually keep your eyes on the real action (for obvious reasons...wink wink, nudge nudge). And finally, the game is VERY long; it seems to go on for hours. This is why, as I was politely informed yesterday by a fanatic football fan at church in his attempts to convince me that I simply need to watch a "real" football game in order to grasp its glory, it is fun (perhaps even necessary or at least recommended) to "tailgate" in between: i.e. barbecue during, in between, and after the football game. This leads me to conclude that in many respects watching American football is all about the experience - one which eludes me for the moment, but watch this space! There is yet hope!

Yesterday consisted of church, Oktoberfest (ironic) and lots of socialising with church peeps. It seems to be fast becoming a Sunday staple to stay out all day with friends from church, and arrive home in the late hours of the night, having done not a drop of work all day. A very out-of-character habit to be adopting, but hey, I'm abroad! ;) Anyway, yesterday was no different. After church I hit Oktoberfest with Moritz (an actual German, who could not stop complaining about the inauthenticity of the whole thing - especially the misspelling of words, which I must admit was a bit of a poor show) and friends from church. It was nice to get out of Salem a bit and explore a different town (Mount Angel in this case). The town is tiny, and pretty much all the streets (of which there are probably only about four) were closed in order to house food and clothing stalls, wine and beer gardens, and other forms of entertainment and general merriment. We had lunch there and wandered around a bit, seeing what was on offer. The remainder of the afternoon was spent chilling at various homes, playing games, watching a movie, and partaking in other enjoyable activities. 

A new week has begun on my AfricanAmerican Adventure, and who knows what it may hold? :) I will probably be starting an internship this week at the Statesman Journal (one of the newspapers here in Salem). The internship is part of my Politics course (making up the bulk of it), and I look forward to getting some good practical writing experience, and discovering (or coming closer to such) whether or not journalism is a potential career path for me! (This will be most helpful in deciding what it is that I actually plan on doing next year. No pressure).

Thanks for tuning in!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Living on the eDgE! And LABOUR DAY weekend.

I am proud to report that I have just arrived back from a somewhat spontaneous trip to Portland! Yes, it seems that when one is abroad the juices of spontaneity will flow. And I'm sure many of you are thinking - "finally"! (Ok, maybe just Amz and Niks...but still). So my partner in crime on this spontaneous expedition was my German friend Moritz. We left after class - around 11ish, and then I managed to get a lift back with someone after lunch, which was REALLY fortuitous, since the original plan included a rushed shopping spree for Moritz and then rushing back to Salem so that I could be back in time to leave for the Willamette Singers retreat (which runs from 17:20 today until 17:00 tomorrow). All around I feel it was a good decision to go to Portland (not one done without a notable amount of agonising over whether or not it was a good idea).

But enough about my little achievement...I have not updated my blog in a while, and so have a few new adventures and stories to share. Last weekend was Labour Day Weekend in the US - meaning that Monday was a public holiday - right on! :) Friday saw the international group being taken to the Oregon State Fair by our peer advisors. This was indeed fun, although I didn't venture onto any of the rides. Just walked around, checking out the scene (read: people) and examining a bunch of farm animals. Ja, for some reason people enjoy looking at pigs, goats, horses, cows, bunnies, sheep... in pens. I know what you're thinking...Hickville, right? There was even some kind of a sheep competition in which contestants lined up with their sheep (who were the real contestants), to show them off, and also did various things around an enclosed area. Weird.

I had my first all-American corn dog though! That was pretty exciting...well, up until I took the first bite and my arteries started screaming. A sausage (the contents of which are probably inappropriate to post on a public website), covered in a dough-like/bread-like/batter-like coating (uh, that would be the 'corn' part). Seriously? Oh well, at least I can say that I tried one, even if I have gone up a few dress sizes in the process. Speaking of going up a few dress sizes, the other discovery that we made were things called Elephant Ears...totally worth the calories (unlike the travesty that is the corn dog). Elephant Ears are basically just a soft, thick dough-like substance covered in cinnamon and sugar (and various other toppings). Kind of a very thick and large pancake, but really delicious and probably way more fattening. Oops, there goes another button.

On Saturday it was all aboard the train to Portland! Train trips are and always will be something fun, adventurous, and generally filled with feel-good feelings (maybe not the Paris underground - so I've been told). Upon arrival in Portland we took a brisk walk to the Saturday Market - so great! Browsed the stalls, chatted to some Americans, and ate of course! (pretty much all I've been doing since I got here. what a surprise). After getting lunch at the Saturday Market (a wrap from a Greek stall, plus more elephant ears!) we headed to the Pioneer Mall. Downtown Portland is really great, and fun to walk around in - cool city vibe, but not too hectic. After attempting some shopping (and I say ATTEMPTING because I was hopelessly unsuccesful in my shopping endeavours, and left Portland with NOTHING to show for it whilst everyone else picked up really cute things...sigh....I'm just not a gifted shopper), we headed to Powell's Book Store. WOW. Probably the size of a small country, Powell's Books is something to behold. Selling new and used books of all shapes, sizes and subjects, it is the kind of place in which I could get happily lost for days. Now there is a place where I would enjoy spending money (not that I did spend any money, but hey, details).

After experiencing the majesty and magnitude that is Powell's we ambled along the streets of Portland, and just happened to stumble upon (read: found on the map and hurried along to it) a Ben & Jerry's! Oh, look! Another place to buy calorie-filled food - hooray! This was quite exciting though, as I don't think I have ever had Ben & Jerry's before. And, wow! Now I can understand why women have secret love affairs with Ben & Jerry. I particularly enjoyed the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Butter Pecan flavours. Our delectable and decadent ice-creams were enjoyed on a patch of grass in a park nearby. And so, with our stomachs full and our wallets empty (well, some wallets), we boarded the train back to Salem after a fun day in the city.

On Sunday I visited a church called Church on the Hill with my friend Moritz. (As an aside, Moritz is a great Christian guy from Germany (also an international student at Willamette), who did a YWAM DTS in Australia in 2005. He met a young American guy on this DTS, and is now staying with this guy's family in Salem for the next year. Small world). I REALLY enjoyed Church on the Hill, and think I may have found a home.  :) There are a lot of young people, everyone is really friendly and open, and there is a real community feel in this church. After worship there is always a coffee and cookies break (hey, look at that, more eating), and there are even tables interspersed among the rows of chairs upon which you can rest your coffee cup and notebook). Neat!

After church Moritz's "mom" invited me over for lunch - yummy Thai food. I spent the afternoon at their house (along with some of their friends from church), just hanging out and chatting. We then went to another young guy's house, where we watched a DVD, ordered pizza and celebrated a farewell with a bunch of the church peeps a little later on. Bottom line is that I have met some really great Christian people, and so will probably continue attending this church with Moritz.

Once again this is turning out to be a really long post that you busy people probably don't have the time to read! Oops! In just over an hour I leave for the Willamette Singers retreat. This promises to be a fun time, as the group is a really great and mixed group of people (we even have the Rugby captain in Singers! Not that rugby is anywhere near as big as football over here, but still, I thought it worth a mention). I will be back tomorrow evening to continue with weekend festivities this side (whatever that entails), and maybe do some homework too. Maybe.

Thanks for tuning in...
P.S. I would like to give a special shout-out to my aunt Helen all the way in Kirstenhof, Cape Town. Helen is celebrating her 50th birthday this weekend! Happy Birthday Helen! Woop! You legend you. Enjoy the party! Will be thinking of you all. Lots of love.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blog Design - so many options!

As you may have noticed, I am experimenting with different designs for my blog (duh).
Comments and suggestions as to which designs you prefer/ think best/ find easiest to read, etc would  be most welcomed! I'm not entirely sure what look I am going for, as I find that the looks I like aren't always the best in terms of reading and accessibility.

Look forward to hearing your insightful and helpful remarks!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hanna's most DARING move of the DAY.

So it was around 19:15, my politics class had just finished, and I still had to grab dinner (I can't believe I just wrote dinner by default instead of supper! The adoption of foreign vocabulary creeps in insidiously). Most students had eaten already (including all those that I actually know or have met already), except of course the football players who had just come in from practice.

Since I really did not feel like eating my evening meal alone, I ventured timidly into the biggest area of the dining hall (after THOROUGHLY - and I mean thoroughly - checking whether or not there were any familiar faces in the smaller sections), only to be greeted by tables upon tables of over-sized males. What did I do? Why, I seated myself next to two of the enormous specimens and relied on the fact that I was a foreigner to not make it seem completely strange (which I have, by the way, been doing often for the past week. Let's face it, taking a photo of a self-service electronic check out thingy in a store is not usually considered a normal, non-criminal activity).

Anyway, I am pleased to report that it worked! PHEW! They were very friendly and even waited for me to finish eating...which took a while since I was chatting away nervously - well, maybe not so nervously if I'm to be really honest (I just like the way it sounded in the sentence).
There ends my most daring moment of the day - I hope it riveted you all as much as it did me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Opening Days!

Opening Days is the name given to the days dedicated to orienting Freshmen before the start of the school year. So on Thursday morning, a serene and unsuspecting Willamette campus was flooded with its 2010 freshmen intake. You can imagine the shock it experienced...and this is saying nothing of the shock that all the international students experienced when a campus that they had formerly shared with mainly football and soccer players who were back early to kick-start training (hardly an inconvenience ), was completely overrun by vast numbers of enthusiastic and nervy first years (and their equally enthusiastic and nervy parents). Horror of horrors!

Many of us internationals (as we are fondly known) are sharing rooms with included. My roommate is a sweet girl from San Francisco, California. Nevertheless, it is a challenge to share a room and to be sharing a bathroom with a whole corridor of girls, after having lived off-campus for nearly two years in a gorgeous home with an enormous bedroom. But, challenge can never be a bad thing! 

The last few days have involved lots of different activities, although they are mainly geared towards the freshmen, so us internationals haven't had to attend everything and most of the activities are optional. I attended the opening convocation (at which a neuro-scientist and author - Jonah Lehrer - gave a truly excellent speech), as well as what is known as the Matriculation Ceremony - which is a welcoming ceremony at which the student body president speaks (an enormous and very huggable football player by the name of Walter)  and everyone gets to shake the hand of the university President. Hooray! After the ceremony there was a ridiculous spread of variously flavoured ice-creams and toppings to be had. We (internationals) then went to a party off-campus - the second one in a row, which is why I gave last night's party a miss!

Saturday saw us hiking in Silver Falls State Park. Well, "hiking"...more like walking 3kms in the forest. Still, it was beautiful, with many waterfalls and pretty trees...and great conversation with different people. A few transfer students have joined our group, one of whom is a girl named Lisa (also from San Francisco) who has actually been living in Cape Town this year doing volunteer work and has a South African boyfriend! So it has been fun and interesting chatting to her about the beautiful city and her experience of South Africa. We were also hosted by Willamette alumni for dinner last night as part of our opening days (and this was done for ALL the different freshmen groups too...Willamette really does go all out!)

I went to church with my friend Scott yesterday (Scott was at Rhodes last year on exchange and is at Willamette - yay!). It was awesome to worship and hear the word. Church was followed by brunch on campus, and then I spent most of the afternoon practicing piano! Something that I need to be doing more of! It was great to sit at a piano for that length of time - I can't remember when last I did that.

Last night was the Decades Dance... a dance on campus that involves everyone dressing up in a costume representing the 60s, 70s or 80s. A bunch of us girls got ready together, and Heidi (an exchange student from Finland) did my hair...she created an epic 'bubble' (Carlton Cousin would have been impressed!), which matched perfectly with my 50s/60s look. The dance was fun, and mostly hip-hop and R&B music was played - my favourite! Sister Mary, we need to jam in the USA! :)

Watched a movie tonight with a bunch of the international students. There is a movie theatre in one of the buildings here (obviously used also for lectures, etc) where students are able to watch movies at their leisure. Wow! Oh ja, and if I thought the food was something to behold, turns out I 'aint seen nothing yet, since the menu they were serving during our orientation week isn't half as good (or varied! the variety is truly staggering!) as what they are serving now that school is starting. AND, get this, breakfast runs from 7am until 10am!!! So you can feel free to have a li'l lie-in.

Classes start tomorrow! Looking forward to settling into more of a routine! This past week has been great, but exhausting at times. It will be nice to have a  bit of normality thrown into the mix.

'Till next time...
P.S. I promise to try and post more regularly so that you don't have to spend hours wading through my entries!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where in the WORLD is Hanna B?

Hanna B is in the United States of America...and yet seems to have fallen off the technological radar somewhat; ironic. Apologies to all those who may have logged onto this blog expecting something more exciting and informative! Things have just been completely hectic this week: a jam-packed schedule, coupled with a hint of jet-lag and more than a hint of a time difference (9 hours to be exact), makes for one very exhausted South African! But I promise to be more committed to my blogtivity as soon as things start to settle into more of a routine. For now, a brief summary of the past couple of days:

So far this week has been all about orienting the international students! There are over sixty of us, making us the largest group that Willamette has ever hosted. It has been completely awesome meeting people from all over the world, and it is really a great group of people. Orientation has involved administrative stuff (yawn), tours of campus and town (fun), a dinner out in the town at a coffee shop called the Ike Box that is also a non-profit organisation and has a stage with loads of concerts and open mic nights (very cool, Hanna is immediately paying attention), and today a trip to...drum-roll please...the  beach! (And the crowd goes wild) Or the Oregon Coast. Despite the fact that there was an icy wind blowing, it was a wonderful day, and the Oregon Coast really is beautiful. In fact, Oregon in general is a stunning state. Lots of trees, rivers, open spaces...and other such good and pleasurable things. I braved the freezing cold water (my dad - who swears by cold showers in winter -  would be so proud), and can now say that I have swum in the Pacific Ocean! Hooray. (After that glorious swim, and truly, it was glorious, I was completely freezing and have never been more grateful for dry underwear and a hot's the simple pleasures).

What else is there to say? Willamette University campus is just as pretty as Oregon and Salem (the town in which it is situated). The lawns are as green as green can be, and beautifully tended, there are lots of trees, and even a creek running through it with big white deck chairs on which to pass the time. The food here is UNBELIEVABLE...SO fresh, such variety, an amazing salad bar (and Hanna goes wild), about 5 different salad dressings - as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a fruit bar at breakfast with a variety of fruit already chopped up, a cappuccino machine, muffins, cookies, pastries, hot breakfasts, breakfast cereals, about 5 different sodas and fruit juices on tap, with their diet counterparts, a cappuccino get the picture. Indeed, the first world is certainly something to behold...the wireless internet access that is free, as well as free access to the gym and printing, are testament to this  (Rhodes students will appreciate exactly what this all means).

I hope this has given you all a bit of an idea of where I'm at and what I'm doing! I will upload photo's as soon as possible, so that you can have more than a bit of an idea of the above.

Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things to do before I leave: 17. Create Blog.

It is days before I leave, and one of the things on my to-do list is to create a blog. Tick! This blogging thing is completely new to me, as techno-peasantish as that may sound, and so things are getting off to a slow start. But I have officially joined the impressive ranks of bloggers worldwide and am feeling somewhat less of a techno-peasant than I did before.

Since there are many other things to do before I leave, recorded neatly on a "to-do" list, (like packing for example) I had better go ahead and do them, and leave my new found blogtivity for another time. Besides, I like to think of this post as a trial run!