“I think South Africa is an amazing country with many different parts. I didn’t expect much; I just wanted to explore it myself. We have already seen the nature and many animals, explored the nightlife and had some amazing food, and we are still exploring.”
Esmee Meijers is a Dutch student who has been living in the Bo-Kaap for six months. She chats to Cliffordene Norton about her first visit to South Africa.
Esmee, you are a student. What are you studying? Why did you choose to study in this field?
I am studying people and business management at the Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Sittard in the Netherlands. I like economics and business subjects, but I also like working with people in a company. The biggest part of my study is about HR, so it is the perfect combination for me.
You are currently doing a six-month internship at the Clothing Bank in Cape Town. Please tell us more: how and why did you apply for this internship?
My school has an intern programme in Cape Town. So, from the moment I knew I wanted to go abroad, I signed up for this programme. My school works with Magister interns and volunteers. This organisation has a big network, and they sent my motivation letter to the Clothing Bank. A week later, I received a message from the Clothing Bank; they liked my letter and gave me the internship.
Is this your first visit to South Africa? What was your first impression of South Africa and, more specifically, Cape Town?
Yes, this is my first visit. I think South Africa is an amazing country with many different parts. I didn’t expect much; I just wanted to explore it myself. We have already seen the nature and many animals, explored the nightlife and had some amazing food, and we are still exploring. The people are really kind; we know we can’t walk alone at night, but yeah, it’s just something you get used to, and you find a way. It is not as dangerous as people say; you just have to be careful and stay away from the bad places.
What is the most interesting dish you’ve eaten since arriving in South Africa?
Well, I am a vegetarian, so I haven’t had a real South African dinner, because I haven’t found anything vegetarian. I like the koeksisters, but I don’t eat many because they are really sweet. I really like dishes with lots of vegetables. I have been to the Oranjezicht Market, and I really love that place. Lots of different food and drinks, and the vibe is amazing.
There are great similarities between Afrikaans and Dutch. Have these similarities made your trip easier?
The similarities have not made a difference for me. It’s funny to hear Afrikaans and try to understand it. Sometimes, I just talk with people in Dutch and Afrikaans to try and see whether we can really understand each other. I have spoken a lot more English during my stay in Cape Town.
Have you learned any interesting Afrikaans phrases or words?
I say “baie lekker” a lot now. But that’s because “lekker” is also a Dutch word, so it is easy to say. I also learned that you say “nie” twice in a denying sentence, and that sounds really funny for a Dutchie.
You will be in South Africa until February 2020. Will this be your first festive season outside the Netherlands? What do you expect from a festive season in South Africa?
It is so different. In the Netherlands, it is winter now; most of the time, we have snow in December or January. I can’t get the real Christmas feeling here, but it is nice to experience it somewhere else. And New Year’s Eve will be a big party with all the students we are here with. I am really looking forward to the holidays. I will not complain about being here in the summer while it is winter in Europe! 🙂
What has been the best part of living in South Africa thus far?
To be able to go to the beach so easily, and to see all the mountains and beautiful nature every day is amazing. I also really like the connection with the people here. Just everything is amazing; I am living on my own for the first time, and everything is going well.
What would you still like to do before your return to the Netherlands?
I really want to see more places in Cape Town’s city centre – the small places you would almost forget. I want to bungee-jump (I will do it when I am on the Garden Route), and I want to see the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Point), because it is a piece of the Dutch history. (There will be a lot more that I don’t know of at the moment.)
- All photos are provided, unless otherwise stated.