Hello from Durban, South Africa!
As you may or may not know or remember, I will be living and working in Durban (KwaZulu-Natal province), South Africa for three months this "summer" - it's in quotes because it's "winter" here in the southern hemisphere - and that's in quotes because the winter here right now is like our early autumn in Michigan! It's fantastic! After the three months, we'll be flying back home through Frankfurt, where I'll be staying (there and around Europe) another four weeks until August 24.
We left the United States from Detroit on Thursday evening, flying to Frankfurt, Germany (about 8 hours). We flew overnight, and then had a twelve-hour stopover in Frankfurt, so we walked around the city a little on Friday. We then flew from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, South Africa overnight on Friday night, arriving early Saturday morning (that one was about ten hours). Our final flight was a short one (only one hour this time!) from Johannesburg to Durban. I had never flown on a Lufthansa or South African Airways flight before, but I was very impressed with both - and the food was good! Not like, "gee, I won't die from the food" but "wow! that sure was some yummy chicken!" And the SAA flight had individual screens for each passenger, even in economy, so that was cool to be able to pick my own movies, pause when I wanted, and so on.
I arrived here Saturday around midday, and the last day and a half have been very eventful and exciting. Yesterday, we moved in to our beautiful apartment and promptly went down the hall to meet the neighbors (neither Adrienne, the girl I'm here with, or I are shy, so it was the natural thing to do!). They took us out to dinner and we met two more of their friends. Today, we went to the casino in town and then swam in the Indian ocean for a couple hours... salt water gets to you after that long! It was very warm, and we loved it. Hopefully we'll have more time to go tomorrow! :-D
Tomorrow we start work. Our primary objective here this summer is to do youth violence research. We will be going to a couple high schools in the city, giving the students a survey to fill out, entering the data in a database, analyzing the data and writing a paper about our studies. We met two of our work mentors yesterday when they picked us up from the airport, and they both seem very nice and super helpful. I am looking forward to working with them these three months! I'm excited to get to work tomorrow, because we've just done so much preparation for it, too. We wrote research papers on the current youth violence literature before we left, and analyzed our hypotheses based on last year's data set. I'm studying how violence exposure is related to school involvement (for example, there is some studies that say that the more you're involved in school, the less violent you will behave if you have been exposed to much violent behavior). Adrienne is studying how the family environment interacts with violent behavior.
If any of you are interested in calling or writing, I will be periodically checking email (we do not have internet access in our apartment). It is cheaper for people in the US to call South Africa than the other way, in case you're wondering :-P
(edited for the internet) Windermere Road
Durban 4001 South Africa
home phone (this will be cheaper to call): +27 (edited for the internet)
cell phone (accepts SMS/text messages): +27 (edited for the internet)
We're currently 6 hours ahead of US eastern time, and aligned with western Europe time. I miss you and hope to hear from you soon! I'll write again talking about food, work, and more fun :-)