When I first moved to Jo’burg I lived with a lovely family in the northern suburbs (a place called Linden). Eventually I moved closer to town (Richmond), a place that was a walkable distance from the university, but Linden was certainly not, and since I was not then (and still am not now) a driver, my grand plan to get from Linden to Wits was to travel by bus.
Which was all very well until a week after my arrival in the city, when the Metrobus drivers went on strike for six weeks.
The joys of Jo’burg.
So, plan B came in the form of a student called Richard who also lived not very far away and drove into uni every day. But since Richard was a hardworking postgrad, he used to arrive on campus at 8 every morning, and stay until 6. And what’s an IFES worker to do at uni for 10 hours?
Set up home in the Student Union cafe.
The Union (or SRC, as it’s called in South Africa) had a few different eateries, but the one I lived in was a place called Cappino. I used to spend all ten hours in there, eating at least two (sometimes three) meals a day (and enjoying many delicious milkshakes and cans of Tab in between). I read books, wrote letters, and was visited by many lovely, lovely students for 1-2-1s (accompanied by inappropriate music videos), and spent so much time there that I got a free pen from the assistant manager for being a ‘valued regular customer’.
These days I spend one day a week in Durham, and today I spent most of that day hanging out in the Durham version of Cappino: the Riverside Cafe. The food and drink is not as nice (and not as cheap, sadly), and the weather is definitely not as sunny; but I still enjoyed lovely 1-2-1s, which were also accompanied by inappropriate music videos – some things are the same no matter which hemisphere you’re in.
In summary: Jozi vs. Durham